Local Community Engagement in an early stage of REDD+ project development: Lessons Learned from Siem Reap Community Forestry REDD+ project in Cambodia

Donal Yeang*, Samnang Khiev**, Channa Net**, Delux Chhun***, Julien Brewster** and Kirtiman Sherchan*
* Fauna & Flora International-Cambodia Programme, #19, Street 360, Phnom Penh, Cambodia 
** Pact Cambodia, Phnom Penh Center, Suite 300, Building A, Phnom Penh, Cambodia 
*** Forestry Administration, # 40, Preah Norodom Blvd., Phnom Penh, Cambodia 
Paper Presented at The Cambodian AgriNatura Research Workshop on:
Integrated Agriculture and Natural Resource Management for Sustainable Development
4 January 2013, Royal University of Agriculture, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD+) is a policy mechanism which aims to reduce carbon dioxide emission from developing countries through forest conservation, sustainable forest management and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. Even though the discussion on the precise design of the future REDD+ mechanism is still ongoing under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), REDD+ demonstration projects are being planned and implemented across the tropics, particularly in countries with high forest cover and high deforestation rates. Implementation challenges include measuring, reporting and verifying (MRV) forest area change, carbon stocks and the social and environmental impacts of REDD+ projects. Community based MRV can help to overcome some of these challenges. The author conducted interviews with local communities and key stakeholders in Siem Reap Community Forestry REDD+ project. The analysis was complemented by participant observation and a review of policy documents and secondary literature. The paper shows that local communities can help to measure forest carbon stock and gather social and environmental data for REDD+ project design and development. The local communities can only perform a basic measurement of biomass stock parameters in the sample plots such as circumference at breast height, standing and down deadwood, tree stump while the knowledge and skill of utilization of a Global Positioning System (GPS) and compass are still limited. The household survey to gather socioeconomic information regarding the use of natural resources of individual household could be conducted by the local community members who can read and write. In conclusion, engaging and empowering local communities in an early REDD+ project development could build a sense of trust and responsibility that local communities have towards the project. In addition, community based MRV could provide a rapid and cost-effective ways to gather relevant information for REDD+ project development.

Biomass Inventory in Bos Thom Community Forest