Overview

Deforestation is one of leading contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions, and finding sustainable solutions to this issue is vitally important.

However, recent attempts to address deforestation through carbon offsetting schemes such as REDD (reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) can create perverse incentives for governments to ignore or deny the land and resource rights of indigenous peoples and poor forest dwellers.

THE ISSUE

The world's rainforests play a vital role in supporting the lives and livelihoods of local communities. They are also essential in preventing catastrophic climate change. Globally, deforestation contributes to around 10% of man-made carbon emissions, and the highest rates of deforestation are found in the tropics.

The concept of REDD – the aim of which is to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation – was first discussed at the international level in 2005. It has become one of the most controversial issues in the debate around climate change mitigation.

OUR WORK

Over the years RFUK has spoken out repatedly in favour of an evidence-based approach to reducing deforestation that ensures respect for the rights of forest communities. Focusing primarily on the Congo Basin, we continually engage with policy-makers by sharing our decades of experience in rainforest protection.

Some of our achievements include:

  • In 2017, our analysis of safeguard documents and benefit-sharing plans for DRC’s flagship 12 million hectare Mai Ndombe REDD+ programme alerted the Congolese government, World Bank and other major investors to serious flaws in the programme. This resulted in a delayed approval of the programme, pending improvements.
  • In July 2017, we alerted the international community to the potential environmental impacts of allowing new logging concessions in DRC, drawing particular attention to the vulnerability of the country’s carbon-rich peat swamps. The need to protect the forested peat swamps was then raised at the United Nations COP23 climate summit with ongoing international dialogue on the issue.
  • Our research challenged the flawed analysis underlying the economics of REDD and highlighted the true cost of implementing REDD projects as a means of tackling climate change.
  • RFUK was instrumental in establishing the Accra Caucus – a leading network of around 100 southern and northern civil society and Indigenous Peoples’ organizations from 38 countries working on forest and climate change issues. The Caucus worked to place the rights of indigenous and forest communities at the centre of international negotiations on REDD.
  • We successfully advocated for DRC’s new community forest legislation in 2014 and 2016 – a potential basis for forest communities to directly engage in emissions reductions efforts.
  • In 2016, our MappingForRights programme was awarded the prestigious UNFCCC Momentum for Change award for innovative and scalable solutions to climate change.

FEATURED PUBLICATION

ABOUT THIS PUBLICATION

Forest tenure and resource mapping by local communities in Mai Ndombe is providing a highly detailed and comprehensive picture of customary claims and usages that are likely to extend across the entire province. The results, which authorised users can view on MappingForRights, have major implications for DRC’s flagship jurisdictional REDD+ programme, especially in terms of land rights, land management, and distribution of benefits from anticipated emissions reductions activities.

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