Rio+20 Business Focus: Making REDD+ a reality in Nepal (June 7)

Politicians make the policy. But it’s often left to business to implement it. For this reason RioPlus Business is featuring submissions from business across the globe in the lead up to Rio+20.

The aim is to demonstrate how Sustainable Development is becoming a reality on every continent, country and city.

Today Seema Karki from the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) based in Kathmandu, Nepal explains how Himalayan communities have benefited from payments for preserving forests under the REDD+ scheme.

Nepal is one of the first countries in the world to include community forest management in the national forestry policy.

This confers authority to local communities to manage forest resources as forest user groups of an autonomous institution.

With support from Norad, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in partnership with Federation of Community Forestry Users’ Nepal (FECOFUN) and Asia Network for Sustainable Agriculture and Bio-resources (ANSAB), is piloting a REDD+ project in community forests in three watersheds of Nepal covering over 10,000 Hectare since 2009.

REDD+ is an effort to create financial values for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives to developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands

This action research based REDD+ pilot project aims to set up a (national) demonstrational governance and payment system for emission reduction through sustainable forest management from which local communities and indigenous people benefit.

It facilitates strengthening the civil societies’ capacity to ensure their significant contribution in national REDD policy process.

Map Showing Forest Fire around Community Forests in Chitwan (1 Feb 2012 to 9 April 2012)

Forest Fire around Community Forests in Chitwan (1 Feb 2012 to 9 April 2012)

Contribution by local communities and civil societies into policy process, first requires local information system relating to communities abilities to measure carbon, their understanding – the role of climate change mitigation and adaptation and role of forest in sequestering atmospheric carbon as well as communicating to multi-stakeholders.

Thus the project developed carbon monitoring guidelines and trained local communities its application in forest measurement.

Map showing Forest Fire in Community Forests of Dolakha (1 Feb 2012 to 9 April 2012)

Forest Fire in Community Forests of Dolakha (1 Feb 2012 to 9 April 2012)

It tested REDD+ payment in community forestry for the annual incremental carbon by setting up a pilot Forest Carbon Trust Fund (FCTF) which is operated by multi-stakeholders advisory board.

The FCTF duly integrates equity related concerns (Factbox 2) while making payment to local communities whereby rights of poor, women and indigenous peoples are safeguarded in REDD+.

Map showing Forest Fire in Community Forests of Dolakha (1 Feb 2012 to 9 April 2012)

Forest Fire in Community Forests of Gorkha (1 Feb 2012 to 9 April 2012)

This project has illustrated, that when social safeguards are ensured, REDD can dovetail carbon and livelihood benefits.

Multi-stakeholder monitoring committee in each watershed ensures proper utilization of REDD payment under the following activities relating to:

- Reduce deforestation, forest degradation and promote forest conservation by promoting through alternative energy technologies as well as sustainable management of forest that enhance carbon stock
- Improve livelihood and awareness raising activities
- Monitoring forest carbon, auditing trust fund and verify forest carbon data

However, expensive Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) mechanism in cases of carbon trading in future, sustainability of the FCTF after the project period (mid 2013) and non-permanence activities such as forest fire are key challenges in the pilot sites.

To combat forest fire, communities have established forest fire lines. Local communities in three watersheds claim of no forest fire this year.

The attached maps showing community forests of Chitwan, Dolakha and Gorkha respectively validate the voices by communities.

Incremental forest carbon stock and no recorded forest fires in the piloted sites are clear indication that incentivized REDD mechanism accelerates climate change mitigation and adaptation at local level by securing their livelihood options.

This article is part of a series commissioned by the Rio Conventions for their RioPlus Business project.

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