Advisor: Mark Ashton
Forests represent around 15% of the world land coverage and retain nearly 25% of the carbon in the biosphere. However, land conversion to other uses releases CO2 in a proportion of 20% of total global carbon emitted. For that reason, REDD (Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degradation) was proposed to compensate developing countries to preserve their forests. However, REDD initiatives in tropical countries are often threatened by a variety of land use changes and weak regulations that can lead to social conflicts. Therefore, for REDD to be effectively implemented, there are many crucial issues to be identified and addressed before hand at the social, environmental and institutional levels. Under that premise, my objective is to assess potential obstacles from other land uses not commonly considered in REDD and bottlenecks for implementation in two developing countries, Ghana and Peru.
I am proposing to locate the study cases in Ghana and Peru for a number of reasons. They both are developing countries sharing are a number of similarities such as pace of economic growth and illegal logging, among others. On the other hand, there are also differences like land tenure regimes, social organizations, capacity and forestry composition. Those are factors that make them different an interesting to compare for future extrapolations in their respective regions. Another important factor for me to choose Ghana and Peru is that my advisor from FES Class 2006 is currently leading a GEF initiative in Ghana and Peru, places where he had previous working experience that will build up on my proposed work.
For my study, I will carry out informal interviews, participant observations and open-ended questions to REDD projects’ managers, communities and governmental representatives. In Ghana I will analyze how the Forestry Commission approaches land use change under the country’s REDD Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP); I will assess REDD’s potential positive and negative impacts on land use change from a social perspective working with communities in the Bia national park. After that, I will travel to Peru’s tropical forest to work with the Association for the Conservation of the Amazon Basin (ACCA) to identify local and national obstacles/opportunities for the implementation of their REDD project; at the same time I will evaluate how nearby communities relate to the project and the forest to avoid land use change.
Finally, with all the information I will generate a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) that will be the base to propose policy approaches to facilitate REDD implementation and make it more flexible for those two countries needs and particularities.