A new study with implications for the successful application of REDD+

A recently published paper by CIFOR tested the hypothesis that "on a pantropical scale, rates of deforestation within or around community managed forests are either equal to or less than forests under strict protection".  The research relied on quantitative information from previous studies as well as on a qualitative review of case studies that account for change in forest cover. Forest cover was chosen as the primary indicator because the researchers suggest “the maintenance of forest cover is being widely agreed as a robust indicator of environmental integrity and biodiversity status at local and global levels".

Although high annual deforestation rates were found for both cases, their results show that community managed forests had a lower average rate of deforestation than for protected areas and less variation in rates of forest cover change. The study puts the blame for the higher rate of deforestation of protected areas on competing interests between conservation policies, population growth and developmental policies. This is because developmental policies are often thought to result in agricultural expansion. However in community managed forest, "deforestation pressures" need not result in forest clearing. The report says "For instance, in community management ejidos in Quintana Roo (Mexico), deforestation drivers such as infrastructure development, population growth, agricultural expansion, and development programs do not necessarily result in increased annual deforestation rates mostly because communities have working rules for managing forested areas".

This study and others like it have implications for a successful application of REDD+ "particularly given the millions of ha of tropical forest currently under control of local and indigenous communities".

Read the whole study here.