Policy in the Forest-Agriculture Mosaic: REDD+

One size doesn’t usually fit all. And the case of reducing deforestation and forest degradation is no different. While agriculture is often viewed as a driver of deforestation, context is key for developing policies to maintain ecosystem benefits within a landscape. A recent paper examines different stages of forest-agriculture interaction, what is deemed the “forest transition” – the process of moving from high forest cover and low deforestation to a stable mix of forest-agriculture uses and eventual reversal of the deforestation process. Considering how policy plays such an important part in forest and agricultural land dynamics, the authors argue that policy should also reflect the stages along the transition.

This study resonates well with integrated approaches to landscape management. For one, the authors acknowledge that we can’t just talk about forest and non-forest, but that there is a whole spectrum of in-betweens. Much of the productive land uses we discuss in landscape approaches – agroforests, silvopastures, forest gardens – fall into this category. And it is essential to factor in these intermediate land uses for such policies as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). Instead of a generic REDD+ policy, they discuss the suite of policies that might be used within a landscape.

At its core, this journal article is about how REDD+ policies need to reflect a particular country or region’s stage along the forest transition continuum. For forest-agriculture mosaics, some of the most effective policies focused on building institutions at the national level, improving monitoring capabilities, defining tenure and rights, supporting improved agricultural technologies, providing market-based incentives for global public goods (e.g. carbon sequestration), and implementing land use planning/zoning. These policy recommendations differ from early stages in forest transitions, in that they focus on restoring environmental services rather than protecting pristine land parcels.

Angelsen, A. and T.K. Rudel. 2013. Designing and Implementing Effective REDD+ Policies: A Forest Transition Approach. Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, 7(1): 91-113. (subscription required for full-text).

Photo credit: Yayan Indriatmoko (CIFOR)
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