Eric Marx looks at Democratic Republic of the Congo, where REDD+ projects have been criticised for failing to uphold the rights of forest communities, raising concerns about the success of the program globally
Land rights is emerging as a big issue in the UN’s REDD+ programme to reduce deforestation, with concern focused on a tract of 9.8 million forested hectares in the Mai-Ndombe province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Mai-Ndombe contains an exceptionally high concentration of advanced REDD+ projects, as well as enormous amounts of tropical forest carbon. At least 20 projects are under way or planned, covering 12.3 million hectares, with an investment of more than $90m.
Under REDD, which stands for “reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation”, a company can earn carbon credits if it can generate an activity that reduces emissions or sequesters carbon – by, for example, reducing shifting slash-and-burn agriculture, energy wood production (charring) or small-scale and artisanal logging.