Over 16% of global greenhouse gas emissions are derived from deforestation and land use change – more than the combined emissions of the transportation sector. Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) is a climate change mitigation strategy which recognizes forest conservation as one of the most cost effective methods of avoiding catastrophic climate change, and seeks to incentivize conservation by compensating land owners and land users for good forest management.

To date, most of the activity and investment around REDD+ has occurred at the project level, with private sector actors providing finance and technical services for project activities in discrete project areas, creating carbon credits that are sold on the voluntary market. As of June 2013, REDD+ projects registered under the VCS issued over 5 MtCO2e of emissions reductions credits.

However, there is widespread recognition that plays a hands-on role in tackling deforestation with policy, regulation of land use, and programs that encourage good management. As such, jurisdictional and nested REDD+ frameworks have emerged for integrating project-level REDD+ with national programming, and standards originally for the voluntary market such as the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCBA) standard have begun to harmonize with National REDD+ programmes. These standards have had over a decade to incorporate lessons learned from project developers, scientists and forest-dependent communities. These standards are now recognized as robust tools, broadly applicable to different models of REDD+ projects, existing to ensure transparency, credibility and co-benefits within projects.

Challenges remain for REDD+ in the next decade. Technologies needed to monitor forest degradation are prohibitively expensive. Political will is also needed; from industrialized governments to finance REDD+, and from developing countries to adopt forward-thinking policies which address the drivers of deforestation.

As new compliance markets emerge in places such as Australia, South Korea and California, there is an expectation that these jurisdictions will recognize REDD+ credits originating in key forested countries such as Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Gains are also being made at the level of the UNFCCC, with the recent Warsaw Agreement signed at COP 19 providing a path forward for multilateral and bilateral financing mechanisms as well as safeguards for the rights of forest dependent communities.

Effective REDD+ development at the project level will create replicable models which can be scaled up and incorporated into larger-scale schemes, making REDD+ a cornerstone of conservation and the fight against climate change.

If you are currently developing or evaluating REDD+ opportunities and in need of technical assistance please see our REDD+ Services and contact us anytime.