Payment for Environmental Services
Payments for Environmental Services (PES) are voluntary transactions wherein environmental service buyers compensate environmental service providers.
REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is an international political and economic instrument that uses the avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change. As forests store large amounts of carbon, reducing deforestation and forest degradation directly translates into a reduction of carbon dioxide emission. REDD+ is a relatively new policy under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Besides this intergovernmental REDD+ policy, REDD+ carbon credits are also sold on the voluntary market. For both, a system of carbon credits is used. With this, the REDD+ concept can to a certain extent be considered a specific form of PES.
Several REDD+ pilot initiatives are ongoing within the South West Region, supported by various agencies (KfW, World Bank, PNDP/GEF). Ongoing projects supported within the framework of PSMNR-SWR are Mount Cameroon and Takamanda National Parks and to a certain extend Southern Bakundu Forest Reserve.
MINFOF within the framework of PSMNR-SWR is currently investigating the possibility to develop an integrated approach at landscape/jurisdictional level which intends to conciliate development and conservation objectives. In this approach the carbon offset’s contribution to social and sustainable development should be as important as its climate benefits. The money generated from REDD+ should finance the implementation of locally negotiated Land Use Plans and serves as an incentive to reward efforts made by forest users.
Overall, the South West Region faces many challenges by the upcoming economic developments in the region, which may lead to increased links beyond the region (e.g. due to better roads) and the resulting illegal hunting that comes with it.
However, these developments also offer REDD+ opportunities. Promotion and active support of cocoa small-holder agriculture may lead to decreased deforestation and may provide long-term income for local people. REDD+ could also financially support the development of corridors to ensure connectivity between habitats which are essential for wildlife. These forest corridors could be created through (a mixture of): (1) cocoa plantations, allowing for (canopy) corridors in the agricultural landscape, (2) sustainable logging activities taking wildlife management into account, and (3) the more innovative Logged to Protected Forest (LtPF) approach in which entire timber production concessions are set aside directly finance conservation areas that serve as corridors and/or provide additional income for park management and protection. Detailed monitoring of economic developments and their consequences for forest and wildlife conservation and the carbon stored in those forests is especially needed.
Given the mining sector’s development plans in the South West Region, biodiversity offsets are a potentially large source of funding. Physical proximity between mining concessions on the one hand, and PAs and forest concessions on the other, offers opportunities and could facilitate design and implementation of such financial mechanisms.