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Costs, cobenefits, and community responses to REDD+: a case study from Nepal

Bishnu P. Sharma, Tribhuvan University
Priya Shyamsundar, South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE); The Nature Conservancy
Mani Nepal, South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE)
Subhrendu K. Pattanayak, South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE); Duke University
Bhaskar S. Karky, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development


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We examine the role of subnational institutions in carbon sequestration and assess whether community forest user groups can meet both existing forest needs and international carbon demand. By conducting a qualitative evaluation of a pilot program in Nepal that made carbon payments to forest user groups, we examine if community forestry institutions can be effective, efficient, and equitable in implementing Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)+. Our evaluation relies on focus group discussions, meetings, and community and program documents of forestry user groups that participated in the REDD+ pilot and matched groups that did not. Compared to control groups, REDD+ user groups appear to be more effective in carbon sequestration, perhaps because of increased prevention of forest fires and grazing, nursery establishment, and other forest management. REDD+ user groups report a larger number of forest conservation, forest utilization, and community development activities relative to control groups. Participating communities bear transaction costs of US$4.5/hectare and implementation costs of US$2.5/hectare on average (or NPR 50,000 (US$600) per year). The mean REDD+ rent per ton of additional carbon sequestered was US$1.3. Targeting of benefits improves partly because some marginalized groups, particularly women, participate more in the planning and management. In terms of equity, microcredit and capacity development activities were skewed to the poorest households, whereas alternate fuel and carbon monitoring were more advantageous to middle or high income households. Overall, our analyses suggest that REDD+ activities can be successfully executed, if communities receive technical and capacity building support for institutional strengthening, in addition to carbon payments.

Key words

cobenefit; effectiveness; efficiency; equity; REDD+

Copyright © 2017 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087