Legitimacy key to success of global forests scheme in Latin America

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Though home to 23 percent of the world's forests, the governments of Latin America must ensure that legal frameworks which limit corruption are in place to give REDD+ a chance for success.

MELBOURNE, Australia (30 May, 2011)_Ensuring legal frameworks are in place and that transparency and limiting corruption are high on the list of issues will determine the success of a scheme that compensates developing countries for keeping their forests, said forestry researchers.

Anne Larson and Elena Petkova, from the Center for Forestry Research (CIFOR) said although Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), is a potentially significant financial mechanism for giving incentive to shift from deforestation and to forest conservation and sustainability, there were particular challenges in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region.

The region has about 23% of the world’s forests, but is also home to many legal systems ill-equipped to combat illegal logging, high numbers of rural poor, and forestry industries that account for twice as much GDP as the global average.

Latin America is also responsible for 4.3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, almost half of which, according to some studies in the region, result from deforestation.

REDD+ is a mechanism that will provide funding to a wide range of projects designed to limit carbon emissions.

But the CIFOR researchers said REDD+ is a financial instrument, not a one designed to govern the way in which the funds would be spent.

“Striking a balance between local legitimacy and carbon emissions reductions may prove difficult and complex and will undoubtedly involve trade-offs,” they said.

“For example, in the short run carbon emissions reductions may be higher if this is the top priority – but this may mean rewarding companies and other actors responsible for high rates of deforestation, human rights violations or other ‘bad’ track records.”

“In the long run, however, conflict and opposition will inevitably increase costs.”

“Illegal logging and corruption also pose direct risks for REDD+, as REDD+ is associated with potentially large sums of money.”

“Corrupt practices, such as the diversion of funds in the transfer and payment of REDD+ compensation, will undermine the ability of governments to effectively curb deforestation and forest degradation.”

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For more information:

An Introduction to Forest Governance, People and REDD+ in Latin America: Obstacles and Opportunities by Anne M. Larson and Elena Petkova

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