Moving the REDD Debate from Theory to Practice: Lessons Learned from the Ulu Masen Project

By Clarke, R.A. (2010). Law, Environment & Development Journal (Full Article)

As the dust settles after Copenhagen and the barriers to reaching global consensus on combating climate change are put into stark relief, REDD still has potential to become a UNFCCC success story. In relation to REDD, there is agreement on many core issues and significant momentum remains towards a REDD mechanism firmly engrained in the post-2012 climate change framework. Yet most debate occurs in the abstract with policy and methodological decisions made with minimal conception of how these issues will play out in REDD participant countries. This article aims to break this trend and takes a prominent REDD pilot activity as its reference point. The Ulu Masen Project in Aceh , Indonesia , while only in its infancy, provides valuable lessons on legal frameworks, benefit-sharing and financing. Through analysis of UNFCCC negotiations on REDD and an examination of how relevant issues have been addressed in the Ulu Masen Project, the article aims to contribute to a more grounded, practical debate on a future UNFCCC REDD mechanism.

Case Studies on Measuring and Assessing Forest Degradation Global Mapping and Monitoring the Extent of Forest Alteration: The Intact Forest Landscapes

The paper describes the Intact Forest Landscapes (IFL) Method and presents results of its use for a global baseline assessment of the extent of forest alteration along with several examples of regional-level monitoring. The extent of forest alteration (understood in this context as a reduction in ecological integrity across a forest landscape) was measured at the global, biome and national levels based on the distribution and proportion of IFL areas. A detailed boundary between ‘intact’ and ‘non-intact’ forest landscapes was established and used as a baseline. The IFL method represents a practical, rapid, and cost-effective approach for assessing forest intactness, alteration and degradation at the global and regional scales.

In the context of Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), IFLs are strongly associated with issues of permanence, biodiversity, and indigenous peoples. Countries that wish to make an early commitment under REDD that is capable of being monitored, verified, and reported may therefore find that the IFL Method offers interesting opportunities. The method can be elaborated to also measure the depth or intensity of forest alteration. It thus represents an approach that should be of interest to FAO’s Forest Resources Assessment, for example for monitoring of forest degradation.

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Snake prices and crocodile appetites: Aquatic wildlife supply and demand on Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia

By Sharon E. Brooks, Edward H. Allison, Jennifer A. Gill and John D. Reynolds. Biological Conservation (2010)

Commercial trade is a major driver of over-exploitation of wild species, but the pattern of demand and how it responds to changes in supply is poorly understood. Here we explore the markets for snakes from Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia to evaluate future exploitation scenarios, identify entry points for conservation and, more generally, to illustrate the value of multi-scale analysis of markets to traded wildlife conservation. In Cambodia, the largest driver of snake exploitation is the domestic trade in snakes as crocodile food. We estimate that farmed crocodiles consume between 2.7 and 12.2 million snakes per year. The market price for crocodiles has been in decline since 2003, which, combined with rising prices for their food, has led to a reduced frequency of feeding and closure of small farms. The large farms that generate a disproportionate amount of the demand for snakes continue to operate in anticipation of future market opportunities, and preferences for snakes could help maintain demand if market prices for crocodiles rise to pre 2003 levels. In the absence of a sustained demand from crocodile farms, it is also possible that alternative markets will develop, such as one for human snack food. The demand for snakes, however, also depends on the availability of substitute resources, principally fish. The substitutability and low price elasticity of demand offers a relatively sustainable form of consumerism. Given the nature of these market drivers, addressing consumer preferences and limiting the protection of snakes to their breeding season are likely to be the most effective tools for conservation. This study highlights the importance of understanding the structure of markets and the behaviour of consumer demand prior to implementing regulations on wildlife hunting and trade.

The History of REDD Policy from Kyoto to Copenhagen

Globally, deforestation accounts for up to 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, or about 5.8 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent released into the atmosphere, each year. This is more than global transport and aviation combined. According to the Stern Review, reducing deforestation is the “single largest opportunity for cost-effective and immediate reductions of carbon emissions”. This is where REDD – otherwise known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation – comes in. REDD is the idea of creating an international framework to halt deforestation. In addition, the mechanism could help fight poverty while conserving biodiversity and sustaining vital ecosystem services. Exactly what REDD is defined as, and what the elements of the framework will be, is scheduled to be decided at the forthcoming UNFCCC Conference(s) of the Parties. Herewith is a comprehensive summary of the History of REDD Policy, from it’s roots in the Kyoto Protocol to the final meetings of the AWGs and SBSTA before COP15 begins in Copenhagen in December 2009. (Source:

Second East Asia Climate Forum Discusses Green Growth

The Second East Asia Climate Forum convened on 16 June 2010, in Seoul, Republic of Korea, to provide a forum for dialogue on reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in East Asia and for turning the challenges of climate change into sustainable economic opportunities. The Forum was an opportunity for high-level officials from Asian countries, experts from international organizations, think tanks and other stakeholders to discuss various issues related to low-carbon green growth. Sessions at the Forum addressed: green growth in the Republic of Korea; new paradigms for economic and social development; implementing green growth and energy issues; adaptation and water issues; and promoting international cooperation for green growth. During the Forum, the Republic of Korea launched the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) to undertake research on shifting towards low-carbon economies.

His Excellency Sam Noun Khong, Secretary of State at Ministry of Environment of Cambodia, described his government’s green-growth roadmap, financed by Korea in cooperation with the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and involves public consultations to develop a national strategy that includes services for human capital development.


Forestry changes planned for Siem Reap province, Cambodia

(Photo: Forestry Administration Building in Phnom Penh, Cambodia)

Forestry officials plan to carve out three new administrative zones in the northwest in a bid to ramp up efforts against illegal logging, the director of the Forestry Administration said Sunday.

Chheng Kim Son said he has asked the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for permission to split the existing Siem Reap cantonment into three separate jurisdictions covering Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey and Oddar Meanchey provinces. Currently, oversight in the three areas falls under the same umbrella, leaving officials struggling to cover one of the administration’s largest cantonments, Chheng Kim Son said.

“We will change it from one large jurisdiction into three smaller ones,” he said. “[Officials] can move and monitor their jurisdictions faster and more effectively with a smaller area.”

He added that the potential change was part of a broader strategy to implement an ongoing crackdown on illegal logging.

“We will reform our work in order to govern well and make it easier to control illegal logging activities, because in the past, it was very difficult for us to govern” such a large area, he said.

Chheng Kim Son said he was unsure when the change would be enacted, and that he had not received a response to a proposal sent to the ministry. Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun could not be reached for comment Sunday.

If approved, the move would increase the number of forestry cantonments – subdivisions falling under the administration’s four broad
inspectorates – to 17.

Under the spotlight

Chheng Kim Son was thrust to the forefront of the government’s public campaign against illegal logging in April, after Prime Minister Hun Sen sacked his predecessor, Ty Sokun, over concerns that insufficient steps had been taken to eradicate the practice. Since then, it has been unclear what specific changes Chheng Kim Son planned to implement in the role.

On Sunday, some observers working in the affected areas said the decision to split the Siem Reap cantonment into more manageable jurisdictions was a good move.

“[Forestry officials] will be closer to the ground, and they can communicate faster with each other,” said Srey Naren, the coordinator in Oddar Meanchey for local rights group Adhoc.

“When their main office is in Siem Reap province, officials have to spend more money and more time to get from one place to another. When they stay in one smaller jurisdiction, their effectiveness will be better.”

Srey Naren went on to say that several much-publicised crackdowns on illegal logging across the country appear to be having some effect. “Logging is still continuing, but it is less than before along the border” with Thailand, he said.

However, he warned that some local government officials are among those profiting from corrupt logging practices. “Local authorities are deforesting a huge portion of the forest area,” he said.

“We are concerned about this. It is reported in meetings, but so far there has been no action to punish these officials.”

Few prosecutions

Court officials in other parts of the country say they are making efforts to prosecute those implicated in illegal logging.

In Ratanakkiri, the provincial court director said Sunday that he had summoned various forestry officials for questioning with regard to roughly 45 illegal logging cases. Lu Susambath said he plans to ask the officials why no arrests have been made in connection with any of the cases.

“We have only seen wood taken as evidence sent to the courthouses, while no wood vendors or businessmen have been arrested,” said Lu Susambath, who declined to name the officials he had called for questioning.

In Preah Vihear province, court officials reported last week that authorities had enacted 20 illegal logging raids so far this year, but that none of the cases had led to prosecutions.

Court officials in Koh Kong last week said they plan to question two forestry officials who are suspected of involvement in an illegal logging operation.

Observers such as Bunra Seng, the country director of the NGO Conservation International, say the crackdowns still appear to be having some effect, even if few prosecutions have resulted from them.

But he also said that authorities need to focus on addressing the fact that a robust consumer demand for illegal timber is helping to drive the covert industry.

“The government has to find a way to reduce or stop market demand” for illegal timber, he said.

“In this case, people find many ways in order to transport the timber because the price is very high.”

Source: Phnom Penh Post (14 June 2010)

The Incidence of Fire in Amazonian Forests with Implications for REDD

By Luiz E. O. C. Aragão and Yosio E. Shimabukuro. (2010). Science.Vol. 328. no. 5983, pp. 1275 - 1278

Reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) may curb carbon emissions, but the consequences for fire hazard are poorly understood. By analyzing satellite-derived deforestation and fire data from the Brazilian Amazon, we show that fire occurrence has increased in 59% of the area that has experienced reduced deforestation rates. Differences in fire frequencies across two land-use gradients reveal that fire-free land-management can substantially reduce fire incidence by as much as 69%. If sustainable fire-free land-management of deforested areas is not adopted in the REDD mechanism, then the carbon savings achieved by avoiding deforestation may be partially negated by increased emissions from fires.

Realising Rights, Protecting Forests: An Alternative Vision for Reducing Deforestation

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The Accra Caucus on Forests and Climate Change is a network of southern and northern NGOs representing around 100 civil society and Indigenous Peoples' organizations from 38 countries, formed at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Accra, Ghana in 2008. The Caucus works to place the rights of indigenous and forest communities at the centre of negotiations on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), and to ensure that efforts to reduce deforestation promote good governance and are not a substitute for emission reductions in industrialised countries. In this report the Caucus proposes an alternative vision for achieving the objective of reducing deforestation, arguing for policies and actions that would tackle the drivers of deforestation, rather than focusing exclusively on carbon. Drawing on case studies from organisations with experience of working with forest communities, the report highlights problems linked to the implementation of REDD and suggests ways in which policies to reduce deforestation can actually work on the ground. Through case studies from selected countries the report highlights three critical components: full and effective participation (Indonesia, Ecuador, Democratic Republic of Congo); secured and equitable land rights (Brazil, Cameroon, Papua New Guinea) and community-based forest management (Tanzania, Nepal).

Vietnam: Why REDD+ Needs Local People

With much of Vietnam’s forest area already actively managed by local people, and given Vietnam’s early engagement in REDD+ readiness initiatives, the country is emerging as a global leader in community-led climate change mitigation in the forest sector. To do so, however, a number of critical issues still need to be addressed. Here we outline why the active engagement of local communities and indigenous peoples is so crucial, and what challenges still need to be overcome. We then summarize the critical actions required to ensure the future success of Vietnam’s REDD+ program.

Forests and climate change after Copenhagen: An Asia-Pacific perspective

The report, titled "Forests and climate change after Copenhagen - An Asia-Pacific perspective," outlines 12 questions addressed by a meeting of the REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries) Learning Network, which took place on 3 February 2010, in Bali, Indonesia. The meeting's questions included, inter alia: progress on REDD given a lack of binding emission reductions targets from COP 15; funding mechanisms for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of carbon stocks (REDD+), including the voluntary market; approaches to ensure engagement of local stakeholders; REDD+ and the potential for forest governance reform; operationalization of REDD+ and REDD+ readiness; and ways for local stakeholders to benefit from carbon markets.

Corruption could undermine REDD

Tenure right and benefit sharing arrangement for REDD: a case study of Carbon Forestry Program in Oddar Meanchey, CambodiaBy (June 03, 2010)

With four billion US dollars pledged last week to kick-start the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), a new report by Global Witness warns that the funds could do little to stem deforestation if governance and accountability are not improved and corruption tackled. The REDD program provides funds to tropical nations to keep forests standing as a means to sequester carbon.

"Protecting forests will be absolutely crucial to mitigating climate change, but past experience tells us that without transparent and effective governance and effective independent monitoring, money will fail to solve the problem," explains Laura Furones of Global Witness in a press release. "REDD carries considerable risks for forests and local communities and will only succeed if civil society is engaged as an independent watchdog."

To deal with problems of governance and corruption, Global Witness recommends creating a systems for independent monitoring in its new briefing Principles for Independent Monitoring of REDD (IM-REDD). The briefing lays out 10 key principles for REDD to succeed, including program independence from national officials and private companies, an official mandate from participating nations for those monitoring progress, unhindered access to forest sites, open access to information, and a right to publish any findings. The report warns that unless these basic steps are implemented into the REDD agreement, corruption and abuse will wreck the program.

"It is now widely accepted that for forest reform to be effective, it must be independently monitored," said Ms. Furones. "This report takes the lessons from over 10 years' work in the field on forest governance. It outlines what needs to happen when promises leave the conference halls and hit the ground. Effective monitoring will be critical for the scheme's credibility."

Deforestation in the tropics contributes between 12-17 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. Stopping deforestation is considered by many policy makers to be the quickest and cheapest way to mitigate global climate change. A well-implemented REDD program could also protect biodiversity, sustain forests for indigenous groups, and preserve numerous ecosystem services from pollination to clean water to erosion. However, the negotiations are complex and some environmentalists fear that REDD will be usurped by industrial and government interests at the expense of forest preservation or that the program undercut the rights of indigenous people.

REDD threatens rights of 350 million local people

Last week the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) program received a jump start with a four billion US dollar pledge from a number of industrialized nations. Under REDD tropical forest nation will be paid to keep forests standing, however the program—as it currently stands—has provoked concern over the rights of the some 350 million people living in or adjacent to forests.

The Accra Caucus on Forests and Climate Change, a coalition of some 100 organizations from 38 countries, has released a report outlining an alternative vision of REDD that would uphold the rights of local and indigenous people while protecting forests.

"When forest-dependent communities gain control over forest resources, they are best at protecting them against destruction by others. Providing REDD funding to industrial logging or strict nature conservation programs that do not respect local peoples’ rights and usages of the forest could be counter-productive, and fuel conflict and poverty," explains Nat Dyer of the Rainforest Foundation UK, which is a member of the coalition making up the Accra Caucus on Forests and Climate Change.

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Seima REDD Demonstration Project in Cambodia

The Seima Protection Forest (SPF) demonstration project, the first REDD-based wildlife protection, is the second REDD project which was officially declared by the Council of Ministers in Cambodia. The REDD pilot project was launched in mid 2008 with the collaboration between Forestry Administration (FA) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The project aims to expand and improve law enforcement activities, to register existing communities land claim, and to provide incentive for communities to protect forests. According to the feasibility study by Winrock International, the project was highly feasible and that even under a conservative scenario would avoid millions of tons of carbon emissions. It is estimated that 1.5 tone of CO2 will be sequestrated over the 5 years period 2008-2012 if 50 % of deforestation is decreased in the project area. Even at a low carbon price of US$5 per ton in the voluntary market, it is conservatively estimated US$5.4 million of revenues. However, the project design document (PDD) is under preparation and it is hoped to finish later this year after some further survey, analysis and consultation with the stakeholders.The project is expected to submit for verification by the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) in 2010.

REDD+: Property Rights and Liability

By CHARLES PALMER. (2010). Science. 28;328(5982):1105.

IN THEIR POLICY FORUM “DOES REDD+ threaten to recentralize forest governance?” (16 April, p. 312), J. Phelps et al. note that a national approach to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) could reverse the gains made from decentralization. However, a national approach is still some way off—instead, the current, rapid roll-out of REDD+ pilot projects (1) is likely to dominate the policy agenda in the next few years. For many REDD+ host countries, a “nested” approach may emerge, which incorporates both project- and national-level approaches (2). Rather than see a national approach as a threat, it should be viewed as an opportunity to strengthen, innovate, and extend decentralized approaches to governance.

Financing REDD in developing countries: a supply and demand analysis


Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) in developing countries has been at the centre of negotiations on a renewed international climate regime. Developing countries have made it clear that their ability to engage in REDD activities would depend on obtaining sufficient and stable funding. Two alternative REDD financing options are examined to find possible ways forward: financing through a future compliance market and financing through a non-offset fund. First, global demand for hypothetical REDD credits is estimated. The demand for REDD credits would be highest with a base year of 1990, using gross–net accounting. The key factors determining demand in this scenario are the emission reduction targets and the allowable cap. A proportion of emission reduction targets available for offsets lower than 15% would fail to generate a sufficient demand for REDD. Also examined is the option of financing REDD through a fund. Indirectly linking the replenishment of a REDD fund to the market is a promising mechanism, but its feasibility depends on political will. The example of overseas development assistance for global health indicates the conditions for possible REDD financing. The best financial approach for REDD would be a flexible REDD mechanism with two tracks: a market track serving as a mitigation option for developed countries, and a fund track serving as a mitigation option for developing countries.