Forest ecosystems provide a range of provisioning, regulating, cultural, and support services for maintaining healthy environment and sustaining livelihoods of millions of forest-dependent communities. The recent development paradigm and growth model did not adequately take into account the value and contribution of ecosystem services to the wellbeing of societies and their surrounding environment. Rapid economic growth and urbanization, agriculture encroachment of forested land, lack of inadequate land use policy, illegal mining, and increasing demand for forest products have led to severe degradation of forest while also decreasing forest cover area. Forest fires, spread of invasive species, floods, and landslides, often attributed to climate change and variability, have all contributed to deterioration of forest and loss of biodiversity.
Conservation of forest and sustainable forest management are now recognized as important strategies for sustaining growth. Providing better livelihood options to forest-dependent mountain communities through incentives that enhance ecosystem services is now the new paradigm. This result-based management of forest resources is the basis for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+).
A series of international negotiations at the Conference of Parties (COPs) – Bali (Indonesia), Cancun (Mexico), and Warsaw Poland -under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have supported REDD+ as one of the potential measures to address climate change impacts. The ICIMOD regional member countries of Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Myanmar, and Nepal have endorsed REDD+ under the UNFCCC. Many of these countries are now embarking on the REDD readiness phase.
ICIMOD has been one of the pioneers of REDD+ in the region. ICIMOD started to engage in community carbon forestry project since 2003 with the support of the Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS), Government of the Netherlands, working in India and Nepal. It implemented a REDD+ pilot project ’Design and setting up a governance and payment system for Nepal’s community forest management under REDD+’ from 2009-2013 supported by Climate and Forest Initiative of the Government of Norway. ICIMOD also contributed to capacity building of REDD+ stakeholders in Pakistan between 2012 and 2013 in partnership with UNDP/One UN, Inspector General Forest, and WWF Pakistan.
Based on the accumulated experiences from the pilot project in Nepal and a growing interest from the ICIMOD regional member countries , a regional REDD+ Initiative is now functional in Bhutan, India, Myanmar, and Nepal. The initiative supports these countries to build capacity, provide technical backstopping, set up a regional REDD learning platform, and develop methods for measurement, reporting, and verification of forest carbon. With financial support from German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB),and Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In addition, ICIMOD is also supporting the UN-REDD Programme with work on forest economic valuation and developing indicators for monitoring REDD interventions in Nepal.