Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and enhancing forest carbon stocks (REDD+) is a performance-based payment mechanism currently being debated in international and national environmental policy and planning forums. As the mechanism is based on conditionality, payments must reflect land stewards' level of compliance with carbon-efficient management practices. However, lack of clarity in land governance and carbon rights could undermine REDD+ implementation. Strategies are needed to avoid perverse incentives resulting from the commoditization of forest carbon stocks and, importantly, to identify and secure the rights of legitimate recipients of future REDD+ payments. We propose a landscape-level approach to address potential conflicts related to carbon tenure and REDD+ benefit sharing. We explore various land-tenure scenarios and their implications for carbon ownership in the context of a research site in northern Laos. Our case study shows that a combination of relevant scientific tools, knowledge, and participatory approaches can help avoid the marginalization of rural communities during the REDD+ process. The findings demonstrate that participatory land-use planning is an important step in ensuring that local communities are engaged in negotiating REDD+ schemes and that such negotiations are transparent. Local participation and agreements on land-use plans could provide a sound basis for developing efficient measurement, reporting, and verification systems for REDD+.