Discussion Paper

REDD+ and Community-Controlled Forests in Low-Income Countries: Any Hope for a Linkage?

Oct 17, 2012 | Randy Bluffstone, Elizabeth J.Z. Robinson, Paul Guthiga

This was created in partnership with Environment for Development .


Deforestation and forest degradation are estimated to account for between 12 percent and 20 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions. These activities, largely in the developing world, released about 5.8 Gt per year in the 1990s, which was more than all forms of transport combined. The idea behind REDD+ is that payments for sequestering carbon can tip the economic balance away from loss of forests and in the process yield climate benefits. Recent analysis has suggested that developing country carbon sequestration can effectively compete with other climate investments as part of a cost-effective climate policy. This paper focuses on opportunities and complications associated with bringing community-controlled forests into REDD+. About 25 percent of developing country forests are community controlled; therefore, it is difficult to envision a successful REDD+ program without coming to terms with community controlled forests. It is widely agreed that REDD+ offers opportunities to bring value to developing country forests, but there are also concerns related to insecure and poorly defined community forest tenure, informed by often long histories of government unwillingness to meaningfully devolve ownership rights to communities. Further, because communities are complicated systems, there is also concern that REDD+ could destabilize existing well-functioning community forestry systems.