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Incentives to sustain forest ecosystem services: A review and lessons for REDD, Ivan Bond, Maryanne Grieg-Gran, Sheila Wertz-Kanounnikoff, Peter Hazlewood, Sven Wunder, Arild Angelsen. IIED (2009), 62 pages, isbn: 9781843697428

iied incentivesAn assessment of the utility of payments for ecosystem services as a tool for REDD was commissioned by the Norwegian Minister for the Environment and International Development to inform Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (N-CFI). The N-CFI specifically recognises that REDD efforts should contribute to securing indigenous peoples’ rights, improving the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities, and to conserving forest biodiversity. This report represents a summary of ten papers which made up the assessment.

The report looks into how compensation for ecosystem services could contribute to REDD, and reviews 13 Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) projects in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America. PES are designed to provide financial incentives to the land owner to preserve the forest and are thought to be an effective instrument for implementing REDD. Under PES, payments for environmental services are conditional and are only made if the service, such as conserving forest areas, is delivered.Important preconditions for success include supporting improved forest governance, land tenure and rights for forest dependent communities, as well as scaling up current small-scale experience with PES.

One of the recurring concerns with payments for ecosystem services, particularly in the context of the much larger-scale payment schemes that would be required for REDD, is that indigenous and forest-dependent communities will not benefit or, worse, will suffer harm. Prospective areas of concern that payments for REDD might impact include:

  • Weakening of land and resource rights of indigenous and forest dependent communities.
  • Equity in opportunities to participate as sellers of carbon.
  • Equity in payment levels and terms – vulnerable communities may be subjected to exploitative contracts.
  • Local economy impacts, which through effects on food prices and employment can affect both participants and non-participants in PES.

However, this review of PES schemes finds little evidence of long-term adverse effects on equity for the four issues above. If anything, PES schemes have proved to generally yield positive impacts on poor people in the areas where they were implemented.

“The hypothesis that PES tools could lead to inequity and exacerbate poverty is not borne out by the literature review or the four regional case studies. The evidence is that some programmes have made small and modest impacts on livelihoods. Recent work on payments for watershed services also concludes that these mechanisms have not yet directly impacted on poverty reduction to any great extent, although their indirect impacts have significant potential for poverty reduction.” – Extract from Incentives to sustain forest ecosystem services.

Some of the specific findings include:

  • PES schemes have not led to weakening of land tenure and in some cases have strengthened it.
  • In Southeast Asia, where PES mechanisms are just emerging, the approach of strengthening land rights (Sumberjaya) or enforcing traditional rights (Ulu Masen) do have potential livelihood impacts where local people’s rights too often have been ignored.
  • PES mechanisms have a longer history and are being more widely applied in Latin America than elsewhere. Initial assessments showed that the first generation Costa Rica national PES scheme was failing to reach poorer farmers and land users who held no formal land titles and could not afford the associated transaction costs. Subsequent iterations of the programme have developed mechanisms to specifically ensure that they are targeted to poor people and that the barriers to entry are either lowered or removed.
  • Small-scale farmers with informal land tenure have been able to participate in some PES schemes, notably the national payment for watershed services scheme in Mexico. One of the measures used in Mexico (and more recently in Costa Rica) to facilitate participation of small-scale farmers and communitiesis ‘collective contracting’, where several small-scale farmers conduct the contracting process together and in this way reduce individual transaction costs.
  • In spite of seemingly low levels of payment, PES is popular with farmers. There is an eagerness to enter PES schemes (both Costa Rica’s and Mexico’s schemes are over-subscribed) and sometimes a willingness to negotiate permanent payments after a pilot, as in Pimampiro. This enthusiasm is an indication that PES schemes are perceived as advantageous by those involved.
  • There is little evidence of local economy impacts on prices and employment.

Download the Incentives to sustain forest ecosystem services: A review and lessons for REDD report [pdf]…

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Evaluation of the work of the Forest Governance Learning Group 2005 – 2009 Tom Blomly, International Institute for Environment and Development, August 2009

IIEDReportResearchers working with forest community groups and policy makers in ten countries in Africa and Asia have developed a novel way to improve the flow of social and environmental benefits from tropical forests, according to an independent evaluation of an International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) project published today.

In each country, IIED and partners set up FGLG teams to bring together representatives of communities, governments, civil society organisations and businesses to explore the drivers of poor forest governance and to influence national and sub-national policymaking.

“With forests set to take centre stage in a new global deal to tackle climate change, there is a desperate search underway for proven ways to improve governance to ensure that forest resources are managed for the public good… That search should look at what’s been achieved by the Forest Governance Learning Group (FGLG). Its experience shows how to improve governance in ways that lead to tangible changes in policy with positive impacts on people who depend on forests.” – James Mayers, project leader and head of IIED’s Natural Resources Group

Through stimulating, for example, improved parliamentary debate, enhanced civil society action and more informed journalism, the project has achieved various impacts, including increased access rights to collect and manage non-timber forest products in state forest land for Indigenous community groups in Orissa state, India, and more secure livelihoods after action which successfully reversed a government decision to degazette the forest and convert it to sugar plantations for forest-dependent households living around Mabira forest in Uganda.

The independent evaluation, commissioned by IIED, provides an overview of the progress, achievements and impact of the Forest Governance Learning Group initiative to date and concludes with a range of recommendations for consideration with regard to future support.

Download the Evaluation of the work of the Forest Governance Learning Group 2005 – 2009 report [pdf]…

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