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 8: REDD: From Safeguards to Social Development?

Anthony Hall

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


INCORPORATING THE SOCIAL DIMENSION Emerging REDD+ policy regimes in Latin America and elsewhere in the developing world form a key instrument in the battle against climate change. Establishing a viable REDD policy platform is one of the few areas in which a measure of consensus has been possible during international negotiations. Although carbon capture has ultimately been the top environmental priority, social ‘co-benefits’ in terms of improved livelihoods, poverty alleviation and protecting rights have gained increasing weight. This is understandable and inevitable in view of the fact that REDD+ policies self-evidently require the active involvement of forest populations for their successful implementation. This has always been true over the years in the context of ‘social forestry’ and enlightened conservation policy aimed at integrating forest users into resource management (Brockington et al., 2008; Fisher et al., 2008; Gibson et al., 2000). For several reasons, incorporation of the ‘social dimension’ is even more critical with REDD+ strategies. First, as Chapters 4 and 5 have shown, in many Latin American countries, and indeed elsewhere, significant sectors of the rural population are engaged in using and protecting forests. This is especially true in nations such as Mexico, Brazil, Bolivia and Ecuador for example, where traditional community and indigenous groups play a key role in natural resource management. Systematically incorporating these multiple stakeholders into national REDD+ strategies is particularly demanding and requires sensitivity to their wide-ranging needs. Second, as argued in Chapter 6, the sheer complexity of this social tapestry in terms of conservation motivations,...

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