Rio+20 Business Focus: Cutting carbon – not trees – in Cambodia

Politicians make the policy. But it’s often left to business to implement it. For this reason RTCC is featuring submissions from business across the globe in the lead up to Rio+20.

The aim is to demonstrate how Sustainable Development is becoming a reality on every continent, country and city.

Today Amanda Bradley from development NGO Pact uses the example of the Oddar Meanchey province in Cambodia to explain the role communities play in climate mitigation.

“When trees are lost it makes the earth warmer and there are more disasters like big storms, so that creates problems for everyone”, explains Din Heng, the elected Community Forestry leader for the remote Dung Beng village in Cambodia.

More than 10,000 households are members of the CF groups and participate in the REDD project. Approximately 30 percent of the province’s population live below the poverty line, so REDD revenues will be important in improving livelihoods. (Photo by A Bradley)

For years, he and other community members have witnessed firsthand unwelcome changes in the local climate such as increased flooding and drought.

But recently they are beginning to understand the broader connections between forests and climate change, as well as the community’s important role in contributing to mitigation.

Grouping together

The Oddar Meanchey project aims to ensure that women’s important role in forest use and management is recognized and rewarded. (Photo: A. Bradley)

The REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) mechanism recognizes and aims to compensate the role of developing countries in protecting their existing forests. It is on this basis that the Oddar Meanchey Community Forestry REDD project was initiated in 2008.

The Oddar Meanchey REDD+ pilot project brings together 13 community forestry management groups in partnership with the Cambodian Forestry Administration, civil society organizations and private actors in sustainable forest management.

Since the formal establishment of Oddar Meanchey province in 1999, multiple factors including population increase, resettlement, logging and economic land concessions have contributed to an escalating rate of deforestation and forest degradation within this remote territory.

The Oddar Meanchey REDD project addresses these multiple drivers of deforestation and forest degradation through a range of activities including reinforcing land tenure, land-use planning, forest protection, awareness raising, agricultural intensification and assisted natural regeneration of degraded land.

Multiple benefits

Using an accredited methodology under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), the Oddar Meanchey project aims to mitigate climate change, improve local livelihoods and protect forests and biodiversity.

Over the 30-year span of the project, approximately 8.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide will be sequestered.

This generates revenues through sales of carbon credits on the voluntary market – revenues which will be used to support forest protection and community development.

Buddhist monks play a leading role in one of the largest CF areas in the project. Monks participate in all forest management activities including patrols, fire control measures, and biomass assessment. (Photo by A. Bradley)

The project also provides critical biodiversity benefits since the project’s forests are home to a wide range of threatened and endangered flora and fauna species, including banteng, green peafowl, and leopard.

The Oddar Meanchey project is a model of community-based REDD+ whereby communities play a leading role and have secure rights to forest land and carbon benefits.

The project demonstrates strong multi-stakeholder partnership between government, civil society, and the private sector.

“The communities here don’t protect the forest only for their own benefit. Actually the communities that protect the forest are participating in protecting the climate both here and in the world,” according to the CF network leader, Sa Thlay.

With recognition of this important role for local communities, the best practice developed in Oddar Meanchey may have broader implications for how REDD+ unfolds across the globe.

Amanda Bradley is CFP Director at Pact Cambodia.

This article is part of a series commissioned by the Rio Conventions for their RioPlus Business project.

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