Tenure and participation in local REDD+ projects: insights from southern Cameroon

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The new climate change mitigation scheme for developing countries known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) has been proposed as a way of reducing carbon emissions in the forest sector, whilst also protecting and improving the livelihoods and wellbeing of communities. This paper argues that it is important to resolve tenure ambiguity and ensure that communities participate in the REDD+ process by engaging them in project development and implementation. Drawing on data collected in six villages under two REDD+ projects targeted in Cameroon, this paper addresses four questions: (1) What are the tenure conditions at the two study sites? (2) How have the project proponents perceived the tenure and other challenges and how do they plan to address those challenges? (3) What have the proponents done to engage communities in the process of establishing REDD+? (4) Are communities informed about and satisfied with the process of establishing REDD+? The paper shows that while the proponents have worked to resolve tenure issues and engage communities, there is still frustration among project participants because of a lack of progress toward implementing compensation and benefit sharing system. The paper concludes that it is crucial to safeguard the rights, access and participation of local communities, and benefits to them, throughout the design and implementation of REDD+ projects.

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