Implications for REDD+ in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Competing Tenures: Implications for REDD+ in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The capacity of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) forests to sequestrate carbon has attracted interest from the international community to protect forests for carbon storage and alleviate rural poverty by establishing REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). Using information gathered from interviews, focus groups, field observations, and policy document analysis, this paper demonstrates that REDD+ is not well adapted to the institutional structures of forest governance in the DRC, including both statutory and customary tenure. The lack of harmonization between these systems has created a situation of competition between state and customary authorities. This has created opportunities for powerful actors to ‘shop’ between the two systems to attempt to legitimize their expanded use and control over forest resources. As the REDD+ process evolves from the preparation to the implementation phase, competing institutional structures may negatively impact the effectiveness of REDD+, as well as the distribution of costs and benefits. While the newly enacted community forest law provides an opportunity to recognize customary rights to forestland, the lack of functional local government at the district and village levels has prompted REDD+ pilot project organizers to establish new village organizations for REDD+. 
Keywords: forest tenure; property rights; authority structures; REDD+; the DRC

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Published 6. November 2018 - 12:04 - Updated 6. November 2018 - 12:04