Linkages with other sectoral policies

Deforestation and forest degradation cannot be framed as simply forestry problems given that other sectors, such as commercial timber exploitation, industrial agricultural development, shifting cultivation and infrastructure expansion, all play a role too. Competing or contradictory laws in other sectors can hinder the success of REDD+ programmes. And as improved forest and land use also involves social, environmental and economic aspects, such as rural poverty, land tenure, environmental services and financial and market issues, REDD+ requires a cross-sectoral response to achieve transformational change (Brockhaus et al. 2014[1]).

Coordination among different policy actors participating in decision-making processes is crucial. For REDD+ institutional arrangements to respond to the wider scope of the problems to be solved, there needs to be representation and interaction of actors across sector boundaries and diverse knowledge and values. REDD+ programmes should also be linked with other sectors (forestry, environmental and financial) and land use policies to ensure their success.

Yet, representation of state actors from different policy sectors alone does not necessarily ensure improved policy coordination. Embedded political interests, power relations and historical institutional path dependencies could undermine the effectiveness of institutional arrangements in policy outcomes. There needs to be support for those who are affected by REDD+ to ensure that their voices can be heard in decision-making processes (Fujisaki et al. 2016[2]).

In Brazil, development paradigms from the mid-1970s were increasingly centred on the promotion of private enterprises through generous credit and fiscal incentives, with particular attention on the ranching, timber and mining sectors, which increased pressures on forests. While there have been measures to reduce deforestation, forest conversion continues to be facilitated by contradictory policies, particularly within the infrastructure, agribusiness and mining sectors. More work needs to be done across the various industries with ties to deforestation to ensure there is greater intersectoral policy coordination on forestry laws (May et al. 2016[1]).

Extractive industries and associated infrastructure are among the chief causes of reduction of intact forest landscapes globally, ranking the fourth driver of deforestation after industrial logging, agricultural expansion and wildfires. Extractive industries mostly do not explicitly mention REDD+ in their sustainability reports or initiatives, but they often have relevant environmental and social policies in place that offer practical linkage to REDD+ objectives.

A study found that there are opportunities for extractive industries to contribute to REDD+ objectives, using insights gained from developing REDD+ standards for extractives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The DRC’s national REDD+ Strategy Framework that was adopted in 2014 specifies measures to mitigate negative impacts and optimize benefits from private sector investments in general and the oil and mining sector, namely:

  • The development and implementation of ambitious land governance to optimize land use and natural resources;
  • The revision of the legal framework for extractive sectors;
  • Strengthening law enforcement regarding social and environmental safeguards;
  • Supporting research on the impacts of extractive industries on forests (both large-scale and small-scale) together with mitigation and compensation measures;
  • Supporting mitigation and rehabilitation plans of sites with the participation of civil society and local communities to limit damages to forests.

The DRC’s draft REDD+ Standards for extractive industries aim to guide all extractive activities in forest zones with the purpose of avoiding, mitigating or compensating for their impacts on forest cover. The Standards are founded on basic principles of REDD+, including permanence of the achieved reductions, additionality of these reductions compared to reference expectations, safeguard measures regarding livelihood options for local populations and avoidance of any leakage effects from displacement of activities to other forest areas. The draft Standards state a clear goal of zero net-deforestation and contains explicit requirements of incorporating direct and indirect deforestation and forest degradation within environmental management systems.

Successful REDD+ interventions for the extractives sector need to overcome a number of prevailing risks in order to achieve effective, efficient and equitable REDD+ outcomes, such as limitations and difficulties with inter-sectoral planning, and vested interests in oil and mineral exploitation. Overall, the Draft REDD+ Standards for extractive industries are an example of how developing REDD+ policy can influence the extractives sector and broaden the perspective on how the sector can contribute to achieving REDD+ objectives (Hund et al. 2017[4]).

Forestry sector policies

Policy mixes have become a field of growing interest among the international community

Policy instruments tend to be analysed in isolation, but in reality, a mix of policies or interventions are applied. Their join effect may be quite different to each of their effects in isolation.

The implementation of REDD+ will necessarily involve a mix of various policy instruments aimed at tackling the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation.

Some of these policy mixes include:

  • Incentive-based policy instruments to encourage forest conservation, such as PES or subsidies (often called “carrots”);
  • Disincentive policies to discourage deforestation and forest degradation, such as stronger enforcement and penalties (often call “sticks”);
  • Policies to change enabling institutional conditions (e.g., the restructuring of ministerial responsibilities or decentralization of authorities), that prepare the ground for incentives and disincentives to work better. 

While an incentive-disincentive policy mix is necessary, multiple policy objectives cannot simply be achieved by a single policy instrument. This is particularly true when deforestation and forest degradation are caused by multiple reinforcing factors.

Evaluations of these policy mixes will need to consider elements of economic efficiency, environmental effectiveness and social well-being  related to incomes.

Trade-offs will depend on deforestation patterns and pressures, conservation opportunity and enforcement and compliance costs. The effectiveness of law enforcement is key to any policy’s efficiency.

In terms of combatting deforestation, Brazil’s success is unsurpassed and is attributed largely to a mix of policies.


In 2012, deforestation in Brazil was 13,750 square kilometers lower than the historical average and roughly 700 square kilometers below the ambitious national policy target for the 2011–2015 period.

This success has been attributed largely to command-and-control measures such as:

  • Blacklisting regions or districts with high annual forest loss
  • Real-time deforestation monitoring so criminals can be caught quickly
  • Effective law enforcement

However, to balance costs, benefits and social equity, governments are starting to realize the importance of introducing incentives into the enforcement policy mix. These can include compensating farmers for conserving natural vegetation on their properties as well as performance-based payments for environmental service conservation (PES).

Designing effective policy mixes can be challenging in practice and comes with trade-offs.

A 2015 study has found that it will be challenging to align incentives with disincentives in order to make conservation socially acceptable and cost-effective.

On a purely monetary basis of government spending, the most cost-effective mix is dominated by command-and-control measures, with more than 30 hectares of forest conserved per BRL 1,000 (i.e. 1,000 Brazilian reals, about USD 345) invested in the policy.

This type of policy could achieve conservation gains at enforcement costs of only BRL 0.03 (less than one US cent) per hectare of forest conserved. However, the opportunity costs borne by land users in this scenario would be large. For the reduction in deforestation that occurred between 2004 and 2012, it could have exceeded BRL 2 billion (about USD 700 million) annually.

Carrots without sticks, meanwhile, reduce cost-effectiveness by more than 98% the study found, although carrots helped to ensure a more equal sharing of costs and benefits, thus making conservation politically more palatable.

“The rationale is that you compensate land users for at least some of the losses that occur when they increase their compliance with the law. But of course, that comes at a significant cost to the state, which has to provide a larger budget,” said Jan Börner, lead author of the study.

Adapted from: Mind the ‘stick’: How ‘carrots’ can make conservation fairer in Brazil’s Amazon

In 1976, Brazil’s National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) began work in the state of Acre establishing the first contact between the state and Indigenous Peoples to demarcate indigenous lands. The demarcation of “indigenous territories” (IT) as a legal land category was significant in that it granted Indigenous Peoples their land rights. In addition, Brazil’s 1988 Constitution reinforced the rights of Indigenous Peoples, and importantly, removed the mandate that Indigenous Peoples should assimilate into Brazilian society. Demarcation, in conjunction with constitutional legislation recognizing and reinforcing the rights of Indigenous Peoples, contributed to land tenure. Since 1976, 717 indigenous territories have been delineated nationwide (DiGiano et al. 2018[5]).

In the Brazilian Amazon, where government initiatives and international pressure helped reduce emissions from deforestation, emissions from forest fires and edge effects increased between 2005 and 2015. Effective policies to curb deforestation do not directly address forest degradation; addressing human-induced degradation requires going beyond identifying and quantifying the different types of disturbance to creating new strategies. Some of the new policies that could be established – and eventually incorporated into national policies and international agreements – include ones aimed at avoiding and offsetting related emissions, including the sustainable use of forest resources, restoring old-growth forests and protecting of secondary-growth forest (Junior et al. 2021[6]).

In Ghana, reforms to the system of Social Responsibility Agreements that entitle local communities to payments from logging companies have increased transparency and improved disbursements to communities, thereby improving the collection and use of forest revenues (Hoare et al. 2020[7]). Other positive outcomes include improved transparency in forest-sector revenues, more equitable processes for negotiating Social Responsibility Agreements, better monitoring of their implementation by the government, and an overall positive impact on the management of the forestry sector in the country.

[1] Brockhaus, M., Di Gregorio, M., Mardiah, S., 2014. Governing the design of national REDD+: An analysis of the power of agency. Forest Policy and Economics 49, 23–33.

[2] Fujisaki, T., Hyakumura, K., Scheyvens, H., Cadman, T., 2016. Does REDD+ Ensure Sectoral Coordination and Stakeholder Participation? A Comparative Analysis of REDD+ National Governance Structures in Countries of Asia-Pacific Region. Forests 7, 195.

[3] May, P.H., Gebara, M.F., de Barcellos, L.M., Millikan, B., 2016. The context of REDD+ in Brazil: drivers, agents, and institutions – 3rd edition. Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

[4] Hund, K., Schure, J., van der Goes, A., 2017. Extractive industries in forest landscapes: options for synergy with REDD+ and development of standards in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Resources Policy 54, 97–108.

[5] DiGiano, M., Mendoza, E., Ochoa, M., Ardila, J., Oliveira de Lima, F., Nepstad, D., 2018. The Twenty-Year-Old Partnership Between Indigenous Peoples and the Government of Acre, Brazil.

[6] Silva Junior, C.H.L., Carvalho, N.S., Pessôa, A.C.M., Reis, J.B.C., Pontes-Lopes, A., Doblas, J., Heinrich, V., Campanharo, W., Alencar, A., Silva, C., Lapola, D.M., Armenteras, D., Matricardi, E.A.T., Berenguer, E., Cassol, H., Numata, I., House, J., Ferreira, J., Barlow, J., Gatti, L., Brando, P., Fearnside, P.M., Saatchi, S., Silva, S., Sitch, S., Aguiar, A.P., Silva, C.A., Vancutsem, C., Achard, F., Beuchle, R., Shimabukuro, Y.E., Anderson, L.O., Aragão, L.E.O.C., 2021. Amazonian forest degradation must be incorporated into the COP26 agenda. Nat. Geosci. 14, 634–635.

[7] Hoare, A., Young, D., Uehara, T., Seidu, M.K., Birikorang, G., Wete Soh, L., Kamga, J.K., Royal Institute of International Affairs, 2020. Forest sector accountability in Cameroon and Ghana: Exploring the Impact of Transparency and Participation