Forests and Climate Change

Forests and Climate Change

The Social Dimensions of REDD in Latin America

Anthony Hall

Controlling deforestation, which is responsible for about one-fifth of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, has become a major tool in the battle against global warming. An important new international initiative – Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) – provides economic incentives to forest users to encourage preservation of trees. Nearly all Latin American countries are introducing national REDD strategies and pilot schemes.

Chapter 6: Catering for Diversity: Economic and Social Complexity

Anthony Hall

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental geography, environmental sociology, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy


HORSES FOR COURSES: DEALING WITH DIVERSITY Tropical deforestation is driven by a myriad of factors, both underlying and proximate. Underlying, macro-level forces include agricultural and regional development policy or demographic pressures, while proximate causes relate to local decisions and actions on land use. Forest loss will be influenced by economic, institutional, technological, demographic and cultural as well as socio-political pressures (Geist and Lambin, 2002).1 Yet in spite of its inherent complexity, there is a temptation to seek single-cause explanations for forest destruction. This is often in order to score political points in the competition for official resources. Wealthy groups blame small farmers, while the environmental lobby and liberal observers point the finger at landowning and commercial elites as the major culprits, particularly in Latin America with its highly skewed land distribution. Whatever the merits of each set of arguments, it is clear that in order to devise coherent and effective forest protection policies, it is essential to understand the various factors that influence land-use decisions, how they relate to each other and how they fit into the wider economy. REDD+ is seen as a practical and cost-effective way of persuading forest users to reduce deforestation rates by offering them economic incentives. Latin America has heartily embraced REDD+, as illustrated by the panorama of experiences and emerging national strategies reviewed in the previous two chapters. The bulk of REDD+ projects are concentrated in the tropical rainforests of Amazonia and Central America, but others are being developed in more temperate Andean...

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