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Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Avoiding dangerous climate change requires a multifaceted ap- proach. Terrestrial ecosystems (agriculture, forestry and land use) are a major source of carbon emissions and are a critical element within the portfolio of mitigation options. Currently a proposed global framework for reducing emissions from defor- estation and forest degradation which includes conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of carbon stocks, (REDD+) presents a cost effective method and reliable way of limiting emissions. REDD+ promises to reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by seven gigatonnes, for an estimated US$15–25 billion between 2010 and 2015.

The Democractic Republic of Congo has a forest surface of about 1.45 million km2, including 850,000 km2 of dense humid forests (which represents about half of African dense humid forests). Car- bon stocks in forest biomass are the second largest in the tropical world, making the DRC a perfect candidate for REDD+ and, de- pending on estimates, range from 20 to 37 billion tonnes of carbon.

There is therefore great potential for REDD+ to generate a signifi- cant stream of income for the forest and land use sector in coun- try. The forests are a source of livelihoods for millions of forest and rural dwellers and REDD+, if designed and implemented ef- fectively, efficiently and equitably could bring about related social, economic and environmentally desirable outcomes and benefits.

Despite the huge challenges some of which are highlighted in this rapid assessment report, there has been concerted national activ- ity and effort focused on the development of a REDD readiness

roadmap and plan since early 2009. This has included more than 15 months of consultation and analysis to grasp the weaknesses and challenges and position them within the international con- text of risks and opportunities for REDD+. The DRC is committed at the national level to capatalize on this asset and plan, imple- ment and benefit from REDD in partnership with civil society and relevant stakeholders. REDD success relies on the credibility of political commitment and the implementation strategy. The key issues relate to governance, civil society engagement, benefits distribution, ongoing reforms of the forest and economic sectors, and a monitoring, reporting and verification system that will not only deliver carbon credits but also the co-benefits that REDD+ can generate – such as the conservation of great apes habitats.

DRC has just developed a substantive and detailed REDD+ readiness plan which includes building capacity, institutions and awareness about REDD+. The components include understand- ing the drivers of deforestation and addressing these, placing the national REDD+ national strategy into the decentralization logic and monitoring efforts at the local level, addressing tradeoffs and alternatives for forest products and mobilizing international funding sources to support an ambitious program by securing credibility, effectiveness and good governance conditions. The aspirations lie to moving the country along a path toward deep transformation where the full potential of the forest sector is real- ized for livelihoods and the economy, ecosystem services, biodi- versity and climate change mitigation.

(Source: UN-REDD Programme) 41

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