Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) provides financial compensation to land owners who avoid converting standing forests to other land uses. In this paper, we review the main opportunities and challenges for REDD+ implementation, including expectations for REDD+ to deliver on multiple environmental and societal cobenefits. We also highlight a recent case study, the Norway-Indonesia REDD+ agreement and discuss how it might be a harbinger of outcomes in other forest-rich nations seeking REDD+ funds. Looking forward, we critically examine the fundamental assumptions of REDD+ as a solution for the atmospheric buildup of greenhouse gas emissions and tropical deforestation. We conclude that REDD+ is currently the most promising mechanism driving the conservation of tropical forests. Yet, to emerge as a true game changer, REDD+ must still demonstrate that it can access low transaction cost and high-volume carbon markets or funds, while also providing or complimenting a suite of nonmonetary incentives to encourage a developing nation's transition from forest losing to forest gaining, and align with, not undermine, a globally cohesive attempt to mitigate anthropogenic climate change.
© 2012 New York Academy of Sciences.