REDD in Madagascar
Despite damage from ongoing illegal logging, Madagascar's remaining forests are poised to benefit from the proposed REDD mechanism, a U.N.-backed scheme that would compensate tropical developing countries for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, reports a new paper that analyzes efforts to use carbon finance to protect the Indian Ocean island's remaining forests. The research is published in the open-access Madagascar Conservation & Development.
Madagascar is famous for its biodiversity as well as its large-scale environmental damage. While the country has lately become known for its conservation initiatives, it still suffers a relatively high deforestation rate, making it a strong candidate for REDD, which would pay Madagascar for avoiding deforestation in the future. By some estimates, REDD could generate more than $100 million a year for the country should it significantly cut deforestation rates.
Barry Ferguson of the University of East Anglia reviews Madagascar's five current REDD Pilot Projects in Madagascar: Makira, run by the Makira Carbon Company (MCC) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS); the Ankeniheny to Zahamena Forest Corridor (CAZ), run by Conservation International; the Fandriana to Vondrozo Forest Corridor (COFAV), also run by Conservation International; the Holistic Forest Conservation Programme (PHCF), run by WWF and Good Planet; and FORECA, run by GTZ/Inter-cooperation. He highlights more than dozen other REDD and forest carbon initiatives in development, ranging from projects run by big international NGOs to small community efforts.
Ferguson also notes some of the pitfalls of REDD, including questions of land use rights, meeting the needs of local forest users, and fair distribution of REDD money. Two main suggestions emerge from his review:
* Community Forest Management will be the Basic Building Block for REDD in Madagascar – but it needs a lot more support to make it work.
* Many Malagasy could be considered as 'Indigenous Peoples' and 'Forest Dwellers' and as such they should have legal rights over their lands including forests.
"The emergence of REDD has been seen by the conservation movement in Madagascar as a prime opportunity for providing much needed resources to simultaneously improve the impacts of conservation projects and to enhance local livelihoods," he writes. "At present Madagascar is seriously engaged with the REDD process."