USAID Research and Analysis of Carbon Rights and Institutional Mechanisms for REDD+ Benefit Distribution

While a number of researchers and organizations in the US and internationally have highlighted the potential impacts of mitigation efforts on tenure, there remains minimal information and best practice on how to practically address these issues at the field level. Emerging interventions to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and enhance forest carbon stocks (REDD+) pose potential opportunities and risks for the rights of rural populations in developing countries. In many countries, the right of local populations to benefit from REDD+ activities requires further clarification. As a result, there are lessons to be learned from countries that are progressing on REDD+ or have experience with payment for environmental services (PES). PRRGP’s work on REDD+ over the past ten months has examined 1) trends and opportunities for the devolution of rights to local populations; 2) how tenure relates to the right to benefit from REDD+ revenues, and 3) early experiences with and best practices on governance systems for benefit distribution.

Framework papers have been developed on each of these topics, as well as provide insights from country case studies in Indonesia, Nepal, Mozambique, Mexico, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The work has resulted in the development of two tools related to a carbon rights guidebook and an analytical tool for assessing benefit distribution institutions which will be released in the coming months.  

Working papers are available on:

  • Devolution of Forest Rights and Sustainable Forest Management: A Review of Policies and Programs in 16 Developing Countries
  • Devolution of Forest Rights and Sustainable Forest Management: Country Case Studies
  • REDD+ and Carbon Rights: Lessons from the Field
  • REDD+ and Carbon Rights: Case studies from Mexico, Indonesia, Nepal, Tanzania and Mozambique
  • Institutional Mechanisms for REDD+ Framework Paper
  • Institutional Mechanisms for REDD+: Case studies from Mexico, Indonesia, Nepal, Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Issues Brief: Land Tenure and REDD+: Risks to Property Rights and Opportunities for Economic Growth

***Working Papers and presentations on each of the framework papers are accessible here

Feedback on the working papers is welcome and can be delivered to:

LEAF publishes Asian REL Workshop Proceedings

LEAF is a five year program that will continue to engage regional governments, forestry and climate mitigation specialists and universities in a technical capacity building program focused on REDD+ Readiness.   The program also works on policy and market incentives for improved forest management and land use planning, develops innovative pilot interventions, and strengthens regional platforms and mechanisms for sharing lessons learned and scaling up innovation.

View the slideshow and view the proceedings here

Local perspectives on REDD

From the local perspective of stakeholders living in tropical forest margin, the REDD+ debate is an additional complication in an already complex relationship that they have with central governments and forest authorities. Can they make use of the REDD+ interest of their national government to further their livelihoods strategies and development aspirations? Or will the REDD+ implementation measures set them back in their conflicts over resource access? We provide a number of case studies of two high carbon emission provinces in Indonesia, the land with the highest land-based carbon emissions

Download the report here

Green Values Stormwater Management Calculator

This tool allow users to make hydrological and financial comparisons between conventional stormwater management strategies and green interventions.?Users can input site statistics, and a range of green infrastructure interventions to see outcomes in both hydrological (discharge and peak discharge by lot and site levels, total detention size requirements, and average annual discharge) and financial (life cycle costs, first-year site construction and maintenance costs, and benefits over a 100-year life cycle, by lot and in total) terms.?

Factories or Forests? Bringing Ecosystem Service Markets Back to the Land

Investment in environmental markets including the carbon market has risen to 66 billion US-dollars (USD) within a decade. Yet so far these markets have widely disregarded land-use change and forestry projects. The Katoomba Ecosystems Services Incubator was created in 2007 to promote investment in forest-based carbon markets.

David Suzuki Foundation reports the Ontario Greenbelt contributes $2.6 billion to local economy

(Toronto) September 9, 2008
– A new report released today by the David Suzuki Foundation with support from the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation has found that Ontario’s Greenbelt contributes $2.6 billion worth of non-market ecological services to the province each year, an average value of $3,487 per hectare.

“This is an incredible figure,” said Dr. David Suzuki, co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. “It’s a good reminder to decision-makers that if we don’t protect our greenspaces, we’ll end up paying a higher price in the future, not just with our health and the planet’s health, but economically as well. Ontario’s Greenbelt is a world-leading example of how to grow our communities in a balanced way.”

The report, Ontario’s Wealth, Canada’s Future: Appreciating the Value of the Greenbelt’s Eco-Services, quantifies the value of the ecosystem services such as water filtration, flood control, climate stabilization (i.e. carbon storage), waste treatment, wildlife habitat, and clean air.

“This report celebrates the Ontario government’s foresight to protect the Greenbelt and inspires us to embrace its growth,” said Burkhard Mausberg, President of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation. “The Greenbelt distinguishes Ontario, and Canada, as an environmental innovator.”

“It’s less expensive to preserve the natural environment and the benefits it provide us, than to replace it with a man-made infrastructure. The highest economic value the environment affords us is when it is left undisturbed,” said report author Sara Wilson of Natural Capital Research & Consulting.

Covering more than 1.8 million acres, the Greenbelt was established to safeguard key environmentally sensitive land, watersheds, and farmlands that provide essential ecosystem services and quality of life for this densely populated area of Canada. This protected region includes green space, farmland, communities, forests, wetlands, and watersheds, including habitat for more than one-third of Ontario’s species at risk.

Ontario’s Wealth, Canada’s Future can be downloaded from and


The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation is a not-for-profit organization created to help foster our Greenbelt’s living countryside by nurturing and supporting activities that preserve its environmental and agricultural integrity.

The David Suzuki Foundation uses science and education to promote solutions that conserve nature and help achieve sustainability within a generation.

Media contact:
Sara Wilson, Principal
Natural Capital Research & Consulting
Cell: (604) 865-1911, sarajwilson -at-

Burkhard Mausberg, President
Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation
Tel: (416) 960-0001 ext. 300, bmausberg -at-

Rachel Plotkin, Biodiversity Policy Analyst
David Suzuki Foundation
Cell: 613-796-7999, rplotkin -at-

Hidden wealth revealed in Ontario's Greenbelt: The Lake Simcoe Watershed

Toronto, June 26, 2008
– The ecological benefits provided by the Lake Simcoe ecosystem, a vital part of the world’s largest and most diverse Greenbelt, are estimated at close to $1 billion a year, according to a study released today. Lake Simcoe Basin’s Natural Capital: The Value of the Watershed’s Ecosystem Services, examines the goods and services provided by the watershed’s ecosystem. These include carbon storage, water quality, supply and filtration, flood control, waste treatment and clean air—all of which are top-of-mind concerns for Ontarians.

Other activities relying on the health of this watershed are tourism and recreation, clean drinking water and local agriculture, including the Holland Marsh. At a minimum, the total value of these services to Ontario is $975 million annually; over $2,780.00 for each of the 350,000 plus residents in the area. “If the integrity of the watershed is not protected, what’s at stake is the additional cost of replacing the free benefits of these natural features,” said Mike Walters of the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority.

The study follows hot on the heels of the Lake Simcoe Protection Act (Bill 99/2008) introduced by the provincial government on June 17. Currently, parts of the Lake Simcoe shoreline and watershed are located inside the provincially designated Greenbelt. The Greenbelt Act and Plan in concert with the proposed Lake Simcoe Protection Act and Plan provide mutually reinforcing support: together they can help protect the entire watershed.

The analysis, undertaken by consultant, Sara Wilson, supported by the David Suzuki Foundation and Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority with funding from the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, found that services provided by the watershed’s forests and wetlands are the most highly valued assets with an estimated annual worth of $319 and $435 million respectively.

“By articulating environmental services in dollars and cents we begin to level the playing field between the economy and the environment, comparing “apples to apples” in order to make educated and balanced decisions,” said Burkhard Mausberg, President of the Greenbelt Foundation. “We all know nature is “good” but how much do we think it is “worth”?

Healthy growth means protecting key natural features given the value of the services they provide. The benefits of integrating the value of nature into decision-making are clear: sustainable urban growth, balanced communities and increased health and quality of life for Ontarians.

“There is an increasing sense of urgency around valuing ecosystem goods and services,” said Rachel Plotkin of the David Suzuki Foundation. “This study is an important contribution to measuring the value of these services. This information can be used to improve land use and growth management decisions.”

Ontario’s Greenbelt is putting its natural capital into action, leading to better, safer, more renewable ways to grow, power, eat, work and live. It is 1.8 million acres of protected land that wraps around the Golden Horseshoe and runs north to the tip of the Bruce Peninsula. It encompasses the Niagara Escarpment, the Oak Ridges Moraine, Rouge Park, some 7,000 farms and hundreds of rural towns and villages. The Greenbelt is vital to the quality of life of Ontarians.

– 30 –

Click here for an online copy of the report, Lake Simcoe Basin’s Natural Capital: The Value of the Watershed’s Ecosystem Services which includes an Executive Summary. It is also available online at and

To request a hardcopy please contact the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation.

For further information please contact:

Burkhard Mausberg, Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation at (416) 960-0001, email: bmausberg -at-

Rachel Plotkin, David Suzuki Foundation at (613) 594-9026, email: rplotkin -at-

Mike Walters, Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority at (905) 895-1281 ext. 234, email: mike.walters -at-

Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority's mission is to provide leadership in the restoration and protection of the environmental health and quality of Lake Simcoe and its watershed with our Community, Municipal and other Government partners.

Since 1990, the David Suzuki Foundation has worked to find ways for society to live in balance with the natural world that sustains us. Focusing on four program areas – oceans and sustainable fishing, climate change and clean energy, sustainability, and the Nature Challenge – the Foundation uses science and education to promote solutions that conserve nature and help achieve sustainability within a generation.

The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation began its work in June 2005 as an independent, charitable foundation with a mandate to promote and sustain our Greenbelt as a beneficial, valuable, and permanent feature, enhancing the quality of life for all residents of Ontario.

Mangroves in the Gulf of California Increase Fishery Yields

This report shows that in the Gulf of California, fisheries landings are positively related to the local abundance of mangroves and, in particular, to the productive area in the mangrove-water fringe that is used as nursery and/or feeding grounds by many commercial species.

Mangroves are disappearing rapidly worldwide despite their well documented biodiversity and the ecosystem services they provide. Failure to link ecological processes and their societal benefits has favored highly destructive agquaculture and tourism developments that threaten mangroves and result in costly “externalities.” Specifically, the potentially irreparable damage to fisheries because of mangrove loss has been belittled and is greatly underestimated.

Mangrove-related fish and crab species account for 32% of the small-scale fisheries landings in the region. The annual economic median value of these fisheries is US $37,500 per hectare previously calculated worldwide for all mangrove services together. The ten-year discounted value of one hectare of fringe is > 300 times the official cost set by Mexican government. The destruction of mangroves has a strong economic impact on local fishing communities and on food production in the region. Our valuation of the services provided by mangroves may prove useful in making appropriate decisions for a more efficient and sustainable use of wetlands.

From Exclusion to Ownership

This report finds that the transition did continue in the 2002–2008 period. The area of state ownership
declined, and there were corresponding increases in the area of forests designated for use by communities and indigenous peoples, the area owned by communities and indigenous peoples, and the area owned by individuals and firms.
Though the tenure transition continues, progress is mixed. Among the main problems are that: governments
retain a firm grip on the majority of forests and the forest tenure transition is slow; statutory reforms do not always result in more secure tenure; action on human, civil, political, and gender rights is also necessary to improve well-being, and progress on this front is slow; the area of industrial concessions still greatly exceeds the area of forest designated for use by, or owned by, communities and indigenous peoples; industrial claims on forest lands are increasing sharply, for biofuels production among other reasons;
and some governments are performing poorly in carrying out the reform process.
However, there is good news: many new national reforms have been announced in 2002–2008 recognizing
forest land access and ownership of local people; research results add to the evidence that strengthened forest tenure for communities and individuals can improve well-being, enable exclusion of outside claimants, and improve forest management and conservation; world attention to climate change offers the possibility of increasing the bargaining power of forest peoples; and there is evidence of growth in the movement to strengthen local forest tenure.
The report closes with recommendations on how the forest tenure reform process can be carried forward.

'When and Where Is a PWS Investment Justified in Biophysical Terms

This document attempts to simplify the information available on hydrological services of forests and other natural systems. It summarizes for practitioners what has been published as potential land use practices and helps to focus hydrological data gathering and research efforts.

Conservation Concessions in the Maya Biosphere Reserve

In Guatemala, Conservation International and the
Guatemalan NGO ProPeten tried to negotiate a
conservation concession with local communities in
the Maya Biosphere. According to the terms of the
agreement, the communities would forgo their logging
rights in exchange for annual lease payments.
Although no agreement was ever established, this
experience still offers valuable insight into
conservation concessions.

Brazil: Redistributing federal taxes for stewardship of protected areas

“ICMS ecolí³gico” is a tax-revenue
proportioning scheme in Brazil designed to
effectively protect land for the purpose of
improving water quality and biodiversity.
The project seeks to compensate counties and municipalities for their active stewardship in abstaining from unsustainable exploitation of protected areas. Historically, local communities had been reluctant to set aside these lands or effectively comply with restrictions on their use because it limited possibilities for revenue generation and economic growth.

Sustainable Resource Management in Malawi

The Lake Chilwa Wetland Project in Malawi attempts to prevent the overexploitation of Lake Chilwa’s
natural wealth and biodiversity. The project
developed community groups and institutions to sustainably manage the resources. As markets already existed locally for the lake’s natural products, the purpose was to insure the continuation of the resource extraction while maintaining the integrity of the ecosystem.

Chico Mendes Law – PES in Brazil

In Brazil, rubber tappers are subsidized to promote the preservation of biodiversity in the Amazon basin. The subsidy is intended to discourage alternative industries, such as logging and cattle ranching, which threaten the sustainability of the rainforest.

Sasumua Water Treatment Plant – Kenya

The Sasumua Water Treatment Plant is an
innovate payment for ecosystem services
project still in development, which seeks to
provide water quality services by paying
upstream farmers and pastoralists to change
their cultivation practices. Though not yet fully
operational, the Sasumua case highlights many
strengths of PES, as well as many of the
factors strongly influencing its success.

The Kunene Region Torra Conservancy

The Torra Conservancy, a community initiated conservation and
rural economic development project, was established in 1998 to
protect the local ecosystem and encourage development of
income-generating activities for the local community.

Watamu Turle Watch Nest Protection Programme

The Nest Protection Programme in Watamu Beach, Kenya
was established in 1997. The program was created in
response to the decimation of the reproductive capacity of the
local turtle population, due primarily to turtle egg poaching
from the Watamu nesting site. It was estimated that prior to
the implementation of the program, 100% of all turtle eggs
were harvested annually. This case study looks at the ways that social and environmental problems are addressed through this program.

Working for Water: PES in South Africa

In South Africa, Working for Water provides one of the
longest-standing and most successful examples of
payments for ecosystem services (PES). Initiated in
1995 just one year after the end of apartheid, the
program organizes poor South Africans in local
communities to eradicate invasive alien plants (IAPs)
through country’s Department of Water Affairs and

Net Pay: Economic Analysis of Mangrove Restoration

A presentation given at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies International Society of Tropcial Forestry conference, March 2, 2007. The presentation discusses methods of economic valuation for the ecosystem services of mangrove restoration. It also deals with efforts in Kenya to restore mangrove forests and to ensure that the local people involved in the restoration process benefit economically from it.

'Investing in the Future: An Assessment of Private Sector Demand for Engaging in Markets & Payments

This report, based predominantly on Forest Trends research in 2005, describes the current status of private sector interest in, and engagement with, payments for ecosystem services. It offers a point of view on current private sector demand and willingness to pay for ecosystem services in the present and projecting into the future.
Specifically, the findings are based on Forest Trends’ research conducted in 2005 by Ivo Mulder, Kerry ten Kate, and Sara Scherr, as well as 2005 research by Sissel Waage and 2006 analyses by Jackie Prince Roberts. The primary research focused primarily on documenting non-carbon cases of private sector engagement with PES.