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A new report released today highlights how forest dependent communities in Cross River State, southeast Nigeria, are losing rights and livelihoods, as their forests are being locked down by the government, which seeks cash through a United Nations backed ‘carbon trading’ scheme, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+).

The report, ‘Seeing REDD: Communities, Forests and Carbon trading in Nigeria’, by Nigerian organisation, Social Action, was presented today in Lima, Peru at an event at the People’s Summit on Climate Change, which coincides with the 20th Conference of Parties (COP20) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in the Peruvian capital city.

The report shows how the implementation of the REDD+ mechanism is having a devastating effect on the economies of affected communities around the Cross River forests. With neither adequate consultation nor alternative livelihood options, community members, who have depended on the forests for generations, are now being victimised by government agents following a ban imposed on economic and cultural activities in the delineated forests. Thus, REDD+ has restricted access to forests where indigenous communities gather food, medicine and energy. Local nutrition and livelihoods are seriously threatened and the attendant scarcity of food products caused by government’s actions have led to increase in the prices of basic food products. Ironically, higher wood prices, occasioned by REDD+, is encouraging illegal logging in the forests.

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Abstract

A rapidly growing literature interrogates the social and economic impacts of various Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) schemes in Sub-Saharan Africa. Less often, however, have scholars examined the necessary corollary of such initiatives; that is, both new and enhanced law enforcement initiatives to combat the global trade in illegal forest products and secure property rights to conserved forests. Drawing upon recent consultative experiences for relevant multinational agencies in East Africa, we critically analyze the emergent features of this additional ‘dark side’ of REDD+, highlighting in particular both its potential for ‘leakage’ effects on adjacent jurisdictions and deleterious implications for forest-dependent communities. Specifically, we highlight the ways in which such activities threaten to conflate illegal with informal trade in forest products; the ways in which they are potentially ill-suited for addressing the trade in charcoal as opposed to the trade in timber; and the incentives that they may provide for states to further marginalize indigenous forest-dwelling populations in the region. In doing so, we argue that this nascent synthesis of REDD+ and transnational law enforcement threatens to contribute significantly and regressively to the broader securitization of conservation in Sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere.

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This report focuses on carbon trading and is intended to in-fluence current climate politics. In the debate on the Kyoto Protocol few actors have expressed a critical view. It is high time, for the purposes of debate and policy-making, to put the spotlight on the core problem – fossil fuel extraction and consumption. This publication, therefore, takes a broad look at several dimensions of carbon trading. It analyses the problems arising from the emerging global carbon market pertaining to the environment, social justice and human rights, and investigates climate mitigation alternatives. It provides a short history of carbon trading and discusses a number of ‘lessons unlearned’. Nine case studies from different parts of the world provide examples of the outcomes – on the ground – of various carbon ‘off set’ schemes.

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Time to ditch risky REDD for community-based approaches that are effective, ethical and equitable

Note from the NRAN: The No REDD in Africa Network is pleased that La Via Campesina's landmark case study on the N'hambita Project is cited in Friends of the Earth's report "The Great REDD Gamble".

Read more...In this brief report Friends of the Earth looks at three specific case studies, but there are already numerous examples of ‘REDD going wrong’. FOE eventually selected the N’hambita Pilot Project in Mozambique, the Kalimantan Forests and Climate Partnership (KFCP) in Indonesia, and the implementation of REDD+ in Peru, as three case studies that demonstrate a range of issues and problems relating to REDD.

The N’hambita project in Mozambique—quoted as a model project by the UN, and partly funded by the EU—is a clear example of a forest carbon/REDD project that has failed to deliver on most of its social, economic and environmental objectives. It has experienced severe methodological difficulties, including with respect to lack of baselines and poor accounting. Most of the farmers that have been contracted to grow trees do not understand that they (and their descendants should they die) have signed up to a 100-year obligation to look after the trees, even though payments will cease after just seven years. Indeed, when questioned many of them stated they may cut down all but their fruit trees after the seven years, and some even think that the timber is one of the intended benefits of the project. Families have also found it increasingly difficult to secure enough food because of the time spent tending saplings.

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Ten years ago, the EU invested over 1.5 million Euros in the N’hambita carbon project in Mozambique, a model scheme to show how forests could be used to offset industrial emissions. This press release coincides with the release of a report – ‘Carbon Discredited' -  explaining why forest carbon projects fail to provide climate, environment, development  or financial gains. The organisations call on the EU and Member States to stop funding carbon offset projects, including REDD+ projects.

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