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More arguments against REDD …

External Reference/Copyright
Issue date: 
12 Jul 2011
Publisher Name: 
TFT Forests
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Countries where the majority of tropical forests are located and targeted by the REDD scheme [Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation] are in a condition described as “fragile”. These states have a combination of the following characteristics; a failed rule of law, weak judiciary, limited government reach, a dysfunctional economy and are vulnerable to conflicts.

This academic article by Alain Karsenty and Symphorien Ongolo examines the capacity of fragile countries to implement measures under the REDD scheme (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) which would in a lasting way contribute to the reduction in deforestation or forest degradation.

The authors argue that the framework is not taking into account the conditions that need to already be in place for the scheme to work. Fragile countries seldom have or want these conditions in place but may appear willing to embrace REDD on account of immediate financial rewards offered.


The authors feel that there are many “inherent weaknesses” in the system to succeed, as it exists at present, in particular REDD is ignoring the political or economical conditions of the states participating in the scheme, often governed by regimes with their own private agendas and afflicted with widespread corruption and ignoring the fundamental differing aims between the “principal” (countries paying for emission reductions) and the agents (countries benefiting from payments).

REDD assumes the states are in a position to take rational decisions and implement the measures towards the alternative chosen, e.g. towards policies to halt deforestation. However, these fragile states are generally unable to implement policies regarding harvest limits, silvicultural prescriptions, or maintain protected areas and are also usually unable to respect their commitments under international conventions.

Competing and lucrative alternate land use options are another issue not fully addressed by the scheme. The high cost of implementation and its financial competitive disadvantage compared to alternate uses is a big barrier. In light of the potential of very high revenues from oil and mineral resources, or the high potential revenues from forest conversion into lucrative agricultural crops, the authors say that “the choice of conservation may be financially prohibitive.”

In conclusion

The REDD scheme as it stands is unlikely to be successful in fragile states, which are where most tropical forests are located and which comprise of the majority of states currently targeted by this scheme.

It is already no match against the risk from large-scale conversions for agriculture. The additional challenge posed by vested interests and weak governance tip the odds against the success of REDD further.

As evidence mounts against the current REDD proposition, it becomes ever clearer that money should be invested differently.

At TFT, we continue to advocate working with companies to help them implement their ‘No Deforestation’ commitments, making sure the commodities in their supply chains do not lead to forest destruction. .

The article is accessible here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1389934111000748


Extpub | by Dr. Radut