Here are five lessons learned from two previous REDD+ initiatives in Peru.

Indigenous community of Ucayali, Peru. Alex Talaverano

Various studies around the world include Peru in the list of countries most vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change. Since about half of the country’s atmospheric emissions come from changes in land use, one of the most powerful measures to prevent greenhouse gas emissions at the national level is to reduce deforestation and forest degradation.

According to the CIFOR ID-RECCO database, there are 32 initiatives in the country under the international plan to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). Many of these are, or hope to be, funded through the sale of carbon credits to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in voluntary carbon markets. In these initiatives, indigenous communities and local residents whose livelihoods depend on forest use and transformation are implemented.

Since 2010, the Global Comparative Study on REDD + (GCS REDD +), a part of CIFOR-ICRAF at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), has evaluated two of these initiatives in Peru, the first in the Madre de Dios region and the second in Ucayali. To determine the impacts, the study compared communities implementing the REDD+ initiative with communities without the initiative. In a recent Infobrief, the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of both study areas are presented.

Below, we highlight five lessons learned from our research that can help improve future climate change mitigation efforts.

Lesson 1: Clear efforts are needed to achieve REDD+ goals.

A comparison of communities with and without REDD+ initiatives shows that impacts from both initiatives are not sufficient to significantly reduce deforestation. Likewise, it was found that none of the projects (either positively or negatively) had an impact on the income of the participating households. Despite this, most households perceive neutral or positive impacts on their well-being and natural resource management.

Lesson 2: Financing of REDD+ initiatives must be improved.

The slow and limited availability of finance in both initiatives moderated their impact. In order to improve the economic and environmental impacts of REDD+ or similar initiatives, there must be multiple and permanent sources of financing to ensure the sustainability of the intervention. In both the Ucayali and Madre de Dios initiatives, the sale of carbon credits was a complex undertaking, and many of the credits sold were negotiated at prices lower than expected by project implementers. There are currently good prospects around the world for voluntary carbon markets, which could translate into higher revenues from the sale of carbon credits, and thus have a more positive impact on the incomes of participating households.

Lesson 3: Security of land ownership rights is needed

In order to ensure forest protection, it is important that the area of ​​the intervention of the project is well defined and that property rights in the use and management of the forest are confirmed. Our studies show that in both areas there are still problems related to encroachment and use by foreign actors who carry out illegal activities incompatible with forest protection.

Lesson 4: REDD+ initiatives should focus on areas with high levels of deforestation

The limited impact on deforestation of the assessed REDD+ initiatives is related to the fact that elements related to high-level impacts are not included in their design. We found that the projects involved large tracts of forest that were not at high risk of deforestation given their remoteness and difficult access. In this sense, including deforestation risk as a criterion for selecting intervention sites for REDD+ would greatly contribute to increasing its effectiveness.

Lesson 5: Transparency and accountability are key to participant safety.

Our results indicate that REDD+ has created negative impacts on the perceived security of some participating households due to two main reasons: firstly, excessive expectations about the social and economic impacts of the project on beneficiaries and secondly, the lack of transparency in the management of the funds received. To avoid these negative impacts, REDD+ initiatives need to undertake formal accountability practices. Similarly, mechanisms should be included to make financial management transparent from the sale of carbon credits. Finally, it is necessary to plan the initiatives in a participatory way.

Incorporating these lessons into current and future REDD+ initiatives to increase the effectiveness and equity of climate change mitigation measures within the framework of Peru’s contribution to the mitigation objectives of the Paris Agreement in the forestry sector.

This work is part of the CIFOR Global Comparative Study on REDD+ (, funded by the Norwegian Development Cooperation Agency (NORAD) International Climate Initiative (IKI) and the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature, Conservation, Infrastructure and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) and CGIAR Research Program in Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (CRP-FTA) Donor Funding for CGIAR.

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