Avoiding re-inventing the wheel in a people-centered approach to REDD+

Conserv Biol. 2014 Oct;28(5):1380-93. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12301. Epub 2014 Apr 24.


One important debate regarding Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) in developing countries concerns the manner in which its implementation might affect local and indigenous communities. New ways to implement this mechanism without harming the interests of local communities are emerging. To inform this debate, we conducted a qualitative research synthesis to identify best practices (BPs) from people-centered approaches to conservation and rural development, developed indicators of BPs, and invited development practitioners and researchers in the field to assess how the identified BPs are being adopted by community-level REDD+ projects in Latin America. BPs included: local participation in all phases of the project; project supported by a decentralized forest governance framework; project objectives matching community livelihood priorities; project addressing community development needs and expectations; project enhancing stakeholder collaboration and consensus building; project applying an adaptive management approach; and project developing national and local capacities. Most of the BPs were part of the evaluated projects. However, limitations of some of the projects related to decentralized forest governance, matching project objectives with community livelihood priorities, and addressing community development needs. Adaptive management and free and prior informed consent have been largely overlooked. These limitations could be addressed by integrating conservation outcomes and alternative livelihoods into longer-term community development goals, testing nested forest governance approaches in which national policies support local institutions for forest management, gaining a better understanding of the factors that will make REDD+ more acceptable to local communities, and applying an adaptive management approach that allows for social learning and capacity building of relevant stakeholders. Our study provides a framework of BPs and indicators that could be used by stakeholders to improve REDD+ project design, monitoring, and evaluation, which may help reconcile national initiatives and local interests without reinventing the wheel.

Keywords: REDD+ implementation; best practices; carbono de bosque; community-based conservation; conservación; conservación basada en la comunidad; conservation; desarrollo rural; forest carbon; implementación de REDD+; rural development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Caribbean Region
  • Conservation of Natural Resources / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Conservation of Natural Resources / methods*
  • Developing Countries*
  • Forests*
  • Latin America
  • Socioeconomic Factors