If you have been following us here on Planet Change for a little while then you have probably heard us mention a little something called REDD+. In fact, you may have closely followed my colleague’s fervent love affair with REDD+, traveled with me into the Brazilian Amazon to see how REDD+ might work on the ground, or puzzled over frozen Norway’s dedication to seeing REDD+ transform the tropics.
I hope these stories have helped you learn a little bit about how this new idea could be a game-changer in efforts to conserve the world’s tropical forests and reduce carbon pollution. But I wouldn’t blame you if you are still scratching your head and thinking: “but what the heck is REDD+, really?”
This is a question I deal with a lot. In fact, I’ve been trying to help people around the world get their heads around the answer for the past three years. During that time, I have held trainings with environmental groups in Indonesia, indigenous people in Guatemala, government officials in Peru, ranchers in Brazil, representatives of pygmy communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and many others. These trainings have all aimed to provide a comprehensive introduction to the concept of reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) and the conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (+), which together we call REDD+. Whew! With an acronym so difficult to describe, it’s no wonder the idea takes some time to fully understand!
However, after the three days of study, most of the people I have trained have a solid grasp on the concept. In fact, I am consistently amazed at the insights I hear during these trainings. I know that’s backwards – I’m supposed to be the teacher, right? But, in every training I learn something new about how REDD+ might realistically play out on the ground where the people I’m training live and work.
For example, at a training we held earlier this year with small-holder ranchers in Sao Felix do Xingu, Brazil (roughly pronounced “San Felix doo Shingoo”), the participants mapped out the groups that they felt would need to be involved in a REDD+ program in their municipality. The maps included government representatives, religious organizations, non-government organizations (NGOs), agricultural producer associations, trade unions, indigenous communities, and many other important players. As part of the exercise, the participants also diagramed the relationships between these groups and highlighted strong or weak relationships. The whole activity really drove home the complexity of trying to improve land management in Brazil. Success will mean bringing together diverse groups with often competing interests to design a program that provides the right mix of benefits in order for each group to want to conserve the forest.
Now it’s your turn to join the training initiative!
In the short video at the top of this post, I provide a brief introduction to REDD+. Pay attention because there’s a quiz at the end! So tune in, and test your knowledge of this complex, but exciting, new idea. And, leave a comment on what you thought about the video below.
Rane Cortez is a forest carbon development adviser at The Nature Conservancy.
Photo by: Rane Cortez/The Nature Conservancy (Ranchers in Sao Felix do Xingu create a map of different Brazilian groups that need to participate in a REDD+ pilot program)
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