Benefit sharing is key for the success of REDD in Tanzania
REDD offers potentially huge financial benefits for Tanzania. According to a draft national strategy for this forest carbon trading system, based on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, the country could earn $630 million a year. Yet researchers from Environment for Development Tanzania argue that unless policy makers understand how the distribution of the REDD+ payments will create the incentives needed to change how people use forests, REDD is unlikely to be any more successful than earlier efforts to preserve forests.
Over the past thirty years, a series of policies including social forestry projects, ecotourism, and participatory forest management, have aimed to address rural people’s dependence on forest resources while protecting those forests from deforestation and degradation. Each has aimed to involve villagers in the protection of local forests and to enable villagers to capture some value from the protected forests. But meeting both objectives has proven elusive.
REDD – Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation – is a new form of payment for environmental services that enables countries that reduce emissions by preserving forests to be paid for doing so.
A draft National REDD Strategy has been developed for Tanzania by the government led National REDD Task Force. The strategy states that if all the deforestation and degradation were to be stemmed completely, and forest biomass allowed to grow at 1.25 tons/ha/year, the country could potentially earn $630 million, assuming the selling price of carbon is $ 5 per tCO2.
Yet many rural households depend on forests for products such as fuelwood and timber, and for income generating activities. Efforts to reduce the loss of forest biomass could therefore harm these households. Professors Elizabeth Robinson, Jo Albers, and Dr Razack Lokina from Environment for Development Tanzania have for the past five years been undertaking research into how changes in forest governance affect rural households’ livelihoods and forest ecosystem services. Their research has focused on participatory forest management in a number of Tanzania’s regions, including Morogoro and Tanga, and has included over one thousand individual household interviews and focus group meetings in more than fifty villages. The researchers argue that how the benefits of REDD are shared is likely to affect the extent to which rural households will cooperate with REDD rules and therefore the likely success of REDD. For example, direct payments from REDD funds could provide compensation for reduced forest access, but Professor Robinson argues that unless policy makers understand how the distribution of REDD payments will change the incentives of individuals and groups to use forests, REDD is unlikely to be any more successful in reducing deforestation and degradation than earlier forest protection efforts.
Professor Albers further suggests that policy makers and NGOs often underestimate the importance of enforcement as part of a REDD strategy; and miss so-called leakage of degradation when villagers react to forest access restrictions caused by REDD by starting to use nearby less-protected forests. The researchers predict that such leakage is a particular problem for remote villages that have poor access to wage labor and fuel markets.
If REDD is envisaged as an integral part of sustainable forest management, appropriate incentives could be created by, for example, improving villages’ rights to own and manage forests and therefore enforce against “outsiders”; expanding non-wood energy supplies; or increasing access to and demand for more fuel efficient stoves.
Dr Lokina emphasises that currently is not clear that REDD will be implemented in a way that will be different nor indeed be any more successful than these other policies in creating the appropriate incentives for individuals, villages, and forest managers, to change how they use forests.
For more information, please contact the researchers from Environment for Development Tanzania: Professor Elizabeth Robinson, +44 7500 656 286 (Mobile), email@example.com Dr Razack Lokina, +255 784 574369 (Mobile), +255 22 2410252 (work), firstname.lastname@example.org
Robinson, Elizabeth J. Z. and Lokina, Razack B. “Efficiency, enforcement, and revenue trade-offs in participatory forest management: An example from Tanzania”, Environment and Development Economics, Available on CJO 2011 doi:10.1017/S1355770X11000209.
Robinson, Elizabeth J. Z. and Lokina, Razack B. 2011. “A spatial-temporal analysis of the impact of access restrictions on forest landscapes and household welfare in Tanzania,” Forest Policy and Economics, 13(1): 79-85.
Robinson, Elizabeth J. Z., Mahapatra, Ajay K., and Albers, Heidi J. 2010. “Protecting poor countries’ forests: Enforcement in theory and practice”, Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research 2(1) 25-38.
Lokina, Razack B. and Robinson, Elizabeth J. Z. 2008. Determinants of Successful Participatory Forest Management in Tanzania: Policy Brief, presented at the Environment for Development Tanzania Policy Workshop, December.
Robinson, Elizabeth J. Z.; Albers, Heidi J.; and Williams, Jeffrey C. 2008. “Spatial and temporal modelling of community non-timber forest extraction”, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 56: 234-245.
Albers, Heidi J. and Robinson, Elizabeth J. Z. The trees and the bees: Using enforcement and income projects to protect forests and rural livelihoods through spatial joint production, Agricultural and Resource Economics Review (forthcoming).