Community forestry and REDD+ in Cameroon: what future?
<p>The Cameroonian Readiness Preparation Proposal recognizes community forests (CFs) as one strategy for implementing REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries). However, there has been little analysis of the extent to which CFs can help achieve REDD+ objectives in Cameroon. We explore options for REDD+ within CFs, as well as challenges and possible ways forward. Cocoa agroforestry in deforested or highly degraded CFs is currently the most competitive option for implementing REDD+ while delivering ecological, economic, and social cobenefits. Reduced-impact logging and conservation or natural regeneration are technically sound options for emissions reductions within CFs, but are unlikely to compete with other more profitable activities at the current low carbon market prices of approximately USD $5/tonne of carbon. However, these options could potentially compete under a social cost of carbon estimated at $43/tonne of carbon. The current CF architecture presents a set of factors that could favor REDD+ implementation, including: good legal and institutional frameworks and practices compatible with REDD+ safeguards, experience and knowledge in related payments for ecosystem services and performance-based finance pilots, and social capital in a community of practice. The CF architecture also features potentially inhibiting factors such as poor governance (notably, elite capture and corruption), unclear carbon rights, and financing challenges. We identify a set of enabling actions for delivery of REDD+ within CFs in Cameroon, which include: clarifying carbon rights; establishing a benefit-sharing mechanism from the national to the local level with clear rules for rewarding emission reductions in CFs; and building monitoring, reporting, and verification infrastructure for REDD+ within CFs. More importantly, adopting an integrated approach in which CFs serve multiple objectives, including ecosystem-based adaptation, REDD+, and the original community forestry objectives could enable drawing from both adaptation and mitigation finance, technical support, and provide long-term sustainable development benefits.</p>