Avoided Deforestation in the Democratic Republic of Congo

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Deforestation and forest degradation account for one fifth of greenhouse gas emissions around the world, second only to fossil fuel combustion. While the Kyoto Protocol has no mechanism that aims to stop forest loss, climate negotiators have begun to devise a program – to be built into Kyoto’s successor – that would reward developing countries for “avoiding deforestation” that otherwise would have occurred. Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or REDD, certainly offers a lot of promise: by allowing poor forested countries to earn, and then sell, tradable carbon credits on a global carbon market, the program could generate a substantial amount of revenue. And many observers have argued that these funds could be used to help fight poverty in forest-dwelling communities.

But REDD implementation would not be easy: it would require the technical capacity to measure and monitor forest cover and the governance capacity to both stop forest loss and distribute REDD-derived income. These challenges would be particularly daunting in countries that already struggle to govern effectively. To consider this issue in greater depth, this paper uses the Democratic Republic of Congo as a lens through which to examine the challenges of REDD implementation, especially with regard to how the program might impact the country’s poor forest dwellers. The paper concludes that, in the face of such governance challenges, the DRC should take concrete steps to create a facilitating environment for the program’s implementation. These steps include increasing investment in the forest sector, strengthening land tenure among forest-dwelling people, devolving more control over forests to local actors, and taking measures to increase transparency and combat corruption.





McClanahan, Paige (2008). Avoided Deforestation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/846.

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