Using REDD+ to Amplify the Voices of the Forest

REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is often discussed in terms of finance. That is, who is going to provide the financing, where is it going and how will it be spent? At today’s 20th annual Yale Chapter of the International Society of Tropical Foresters (ISTF) conference, Eva Garen of the Environmental Leadership and Training Institute moderated a panel of talented practitioners working on “REDD+-like” projects in Latin America.

Kate Horner of the Environmental Investigation Agency reminded the audience that in 2007 when the Bali Climate Change Conference moved REDD forward to REDD+, it was primarily viewed as a policy approach to forest conservation in contrast to the current focus on finance. Horner discussed Indigenous REDD, an initiative of the Peruvian indigenous organization AIDESEP, which focuses on changing Peru’s governance around land tenure, forests and indigenous rights.

Hannah Stutzman of the Amazon Conservation Association and Pedro Soares of the Institute for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Amazonas, discussed REDD+ projects on the ground. The Amazon Conservation Association project in Peru is a non-traditional REDD+ project that is funded by donors and focuses on strengthening capacity and building trust among traditional communities.

Soares discussed the Surui Forest Carbon Project, a Rainforest Alliance certified project that is expected to protect 3 threatened species, 7 near-threatened species and 161 vulnerable species in the Brazilian Amazon.

Looking into the future of REDD+, it is important to remember that the initiative is not only about finance but also helps amplify the voices of people living in the forest and encourages national and international political and governance systems to better protect and value the forests of the world.