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Voices of REDD+: in a vast Amazonian district, coalitions and carrots bring hard-won successes

“It’s urgent, it’s needed, and there are feasible solutions that are being tested.”
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Neil Palmer/CIFOR photo
Neil Palmer/CIFOR photo

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LIMA, Peru—In one of the largest municipalities in the world, São Félix do Xingu (SFX) in Brazil’s Pará state, the sheer scale and number of diverse actors is one of the big challenges for those implementing a REDD+ project there.

REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) seeks to provide financial incentives for keeping forests standing—and curbing carbon emissions in the process.

Márcio Stutzman, Amazon conservation manager for The Nature Conservancy’s Brazil program, discussed his experiences working on the Sustainable Landscapes Pilot Program in São Félix do Xingu at “REDD+ Emerging?”, an event organized by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) on the sidelines of the UN climate change meeting in Lima in December.

“Scale is a challenge—it’s a huge location, we’re talking about roughly 10 million hectares, and we’re also trying to integrate different actors that are active on the ground,” he said.

That includes indigenous communities, small landholders, medium and large landholders, and companies—and they haven’t always gotten along. 

“Sometimes it isn’t that easy to reach common ground—especially when those stakeholders have been in conflict for many years in the past,” he said.

He says TNC have learned a number of lessons since the initiative began in 2009.

“Establish a coalition right away, and indicate what the goals are of the program,” he said. “Focus on the carrot and the stick—not only on the carrot or only on the stick. Make sure you bring solutions and not only point out the problems.”

“And build the capacity for the different parties—whether it’s public agencies, companies, producers, each has its own needs in terms of how capacity could be developed.”

And he has a message for those negotiating REDD+ at the international level: Come to an agreement soon.

“It’s urgent, it’s needed, and there are feasible solutions that are being tested,” he said.

“Despite all the challenges we’re facing we believe there are many successes coming out of this program as well as others. So look for on-the-ground solutions, understand what has been done that has worked—and not only look at high-level decisions but look for the simple solutions that are already available in projects such as this one in São Félix do Xingu.”

The TNC initiative in São Félix do Xingu was analyzed by CIFOR as part of its Global Comparative Study on REDD+ and features in the new book, REDD+ Emerging: A case book of subnational initiatives from across the globe.

For more information about the topics of this research, contact William Sunderlin at w.sunderlin@cgiar.org.

CIFOR’s Global Comparative Study on REDD+ is supported in part by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry and by NORAD, AusAID, DFID and the European Commission.

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Topic(s) :   Community forestry Landscapes REDD+ Peruvian Amazon Lessons from the Amazon
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