Land Tenure Journal, No 2 (2011)

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Land tenure and payment for environmental services. Challenges and opportunities for REDD+

Anna Knox, Cynthia Caron, Jonathan Miner, Allyson Goldstein


This article highlights the land tenure implications of payment for environmental services (PES) mechanisms to reduce carbon emissions and enhance carbon sequestration, and offers suggestions for incorporating tenure into PES strategies. The first section begins with an overview of PES in the context of carbon-based approaches, focusing on one mechanism: REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation of Forest Resources). The second section discusses the myriad of tenure challenges associated with effective implementation of carbon-based PES schemes. These challenges are often found in countries where more complex forms of tenure prevail and exist alongside civil law systems; yet, many such countries host some of the world’s largest forest carbon stocks. The third section presents options for addressing tenure challenges, focusing on legal and governance measures but also stressing practical strategies that nurture the effectiveness of normative reforms. We conclude by emphasizing the importance of clarifying and securing resource users’ rights to land and other natural resources to the ultimate success of climate change mitigation goals.

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