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2015-11-16 | EfD Discussion Paper

Allocating Community-Level Payments for Ecosystem Services: Initial Experiences from a REDD Pilot in Tanzania

Robinson, Elizabeth J Z, Heidi J. Albers, Razack Lokina and Charles Meshack. 2015. “Allocating Community-Level Payments for Ecosystem Services: Initial Experiences from a REDD Pilot in Tanzania.” EfD Discussion Paper Series 15-27.
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Payments for ecosystem services (PES) typically reward landowners for managing their land to provide ecosystem services that would not otherwise be provided. REDD— Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation—is a form of PES aimed at decreasing carbon emissions from forest conversion and extraction in lower-income countries. A key challenge for REDD occurs when it is implemented at the community rather than the individual landowner level. Whilst achieving this community-level reduction relies on individuals changing their interaction with the forest, incentives are not aligned explicitly at the individual level. Rather, payments are made to the community as a single entity in exchange for verified reduced forest loss, as per a PES scheme. In this paper, we explore how community level REDD has been implemented in one multiple-village pilot in Tanzania. Our findings suggest that considerable attention has been paid to monitoring, reporting, verification, and equity. Though no explicit mechanism ensures individual compliance with the group PES, the development of village level institutions, “social fencing,” and a shared future through equal REDD payments factor into community decisions that influence the level of community compliance that the program will eventually achieve. However, few villages allocate funds for explicit enforcement efforts to protect the forest from illegal activities undertaken by outsiders.