Sharing his findings from a SANDEE-ICIMOD study on "Do REDD+ payments motivate community forest users in Nepal to enhance carbon and improve local livelihoods?", Dr. Sharma explained that these pioneering findings simultaneously captured the impact of REDD+ on forest carbon, ecological indicators and household forest dependence. Findings indicate that only leaf litter, a small component contributing to forest carbon, increased in communities where REDD+ was piloted, compared to non-project groups. However, ecological indicators related to forest fire incidence, timber extraction, wildlife presence, etc. showed signs of improvement.
Though, two years is a very short period for carbon enhancement, the study findings were received by the forest policymakers, civil society members and forest stakeholders with great interest. This is because, under the present forest management system, the carbon potential of community forests might be limited and Nepal might need to emphasize non-carbon benefits in international REDD+ negotiations. The other interesting finding was that there was no decline in household use of firewood, fodder-grass and leaf-litter, the most widely extracted forest products, in the project community versus the non-project communities. This has important implications, since REDD+ did "no harm" in terms of restricting community's access to these resources. The most interesting finding was that people in REDD+ project areas owned more bio-gas plants after the project compared to non-REDD+ communities. There was a corresponding decline in the use of firewood. This indicates that incentivizing people to shift to bio-gas, a cleaner and convenient fuel, can be the most effective strategy for REDD+ implementation in countries like Nepal.
The study is based on analyzing the ‘Difference-in-Difference', a standard impact evaluation method used to assess change as a result of a program intervention. In this case, the research sought to understand differences before and after a REDD+ pilot intervention by comparing REDD+ project communities with comparable non-project communities.
SANDEE's mission is to strengthen the capacity of individuals and institutions to undertake research on the inter-linkages among economic development, poverty, and environmental changeand to disseminate practical information that can be applied to development policies.
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