Cultural, social and livelihood characteristics: Identifying socioeconomic and environmental priorities

Successful REDD+ programmes will be carefully tailored to maximize community buy-in and support

REDD+ project proponents should consider the culture, social and livelihood characteristics and priorities of communities involved, and tailor their approaches to promoting REDD+ benefits. As beneficiaries and proponents often face trade-offs between socioeconomic and environmental outcomes, identifying the key benefits to prioritize based on the community’s characteristics can help increase the likelihood that beneficiaries will perceive compensation as equitable, be motivated to participate in the scheme, and support the delivery of desired outcomes.

Studies of Vietnam’s PFES programme in communities have revealed that levels of trust in the authorities and local interpretations of equity have a significant influence over expressed preferences regarding how PFES benefits should be distributed. In contexts where there is little trust, villagers perceive direct cash payments divided equally between all participants to be most equitable, even though the payments are likely to be minimal. In contrast, where there is trust, villagers are more likely to express preferences for co-benefits such as local infrastructure and social services (Pham et al. 2014[1]). Different community contexts can lead to different preferences among villagers, so REDD+ projects should be adjusted accordingly to maximize programme buy-in.

A study in Nepal highlights the importance of recognizing and identifying communities that will need more programme support than others to succeed. In Nepal, placing forests under community control has led to reduced deforestation and poverty while simultaneously contributing to positive environmental and socioeconomic outcomes (Oldekop et al. 2019[2]). While the community forestry system has allowed users to generally experience positive outcomes, such as greater control of their forest resources, improved livelihoods and enhanced climate resilience, the impacts are weaker in areas with higher poverty rates. Poorer communities face greater trade-offs between socioeconomic and environmental outcomes and struggle to avoid forest degradation and deforestation when economic and livelihood needs become pressing. These communities may require additional support to minimize the trade-offs they face supporting forest protection (Haupt et al. 2021[3]).

A study comparing private, public and community-based forest management regimes in Kalimantan, Indonesia highlights the importance of adopting different approaches in promoting REDD+, depending on the forest regime. The study compared those living in different forest management regimes and found differences in perceived REDD+ benefits. Respondents in private and government regimes perceived higher economic benefits than those in a community regime, while respondents in the community regime perceived higher environmental benefits than the other regimes. As different communities will vary in the types of benefits they prioritize and seek out, REDD+ project proponents should tailor their approaches to promoting REDD+ benefits by carefully considering the forest regime involved (Rakatama et al. 2020[4]). Ensuring that a programme is aligned with a community’s priorities increases the likelihood that beneficiaries will perceive compensation as equitable and be more motivated to participate in the programme.

[1]Pham, T.T., Moeliono, M., Brockhaus, M., Le, D.N., Wong, G., Le, T.M., 2014. Local preferences and strategies for effective, efficient, and equitable distribution of PES revenues in Vietnam: lessons for REDD+.Human Ecology 42(6): 885-899.

[2]Oldekop, J.A., Sims, K.R.E., Karna, B.K., Whittingham, M.J., Agrawal, A., 2019. Reductions in deforestation and poverty from decentralized forest management in Nepal. Nat Sustain 2, 421–428.

[3]Haupt, F., Manirajah, M., Conway, D., Duchelle, A., Matson, E., Peteru, S., Pham, T.T., 2021. Taking stock of national climate action for forests: 2021 NYDF Assessment report

[4]Rakatama, A., Iftekhar, M.S., Pandit, R., 2020. Perceived benefits and costs of REDD+ projects under different forest management regimes in Indonesia. Climate and Development 12, 481–493.