Challenges of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) on the African continent

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has asked policy-makers and researchers to explore ways in which African countries can enhance their role in climate change mitigation by receiving a larger share of carbon projects. Consequently, the need for a Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) mechanism in developing countries has become an increasingly important part of the convention’s agenda. Since the inception of the REDD concept at the 2007 13th UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP 13) in Bali, the concept has moved from a highly specific mechanism to tackle deforestation and degradation towards a broader inclusion of efforts to conserve and manage forests to enhance carbon stocks. The international move towards conservation and management of forests to enhance carbon stocks as a broader concept has seen the emergence of REDD+. The REDD+ concept as defined in the UNFCCC Dec 1/COP 13 Bali Action Plan and subsequent COP decisions relates not only to reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, but to the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks, particularly in developing countries. The REDD+ mechanism offers developing countries: an opportunity to offset their carbon emission levels, financial benefits through trading of REDD+ offset credits, improved livelihood of local people adjacent to forests, and contributions towards biodiversity conservation. Despite these potential benefits, there are challenges associated with the development and implementation of REDD+ mechanisms on the African continent.