Making incremental progress: Impacts of a REDD+ pilot initiative in Nepal
Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) encompasses a range of incentives for developing countries to slow, halt and reverse forest loss and associated forest carbon emissions. Where there is high dependence on biomass energy, cleaner cooking transitions are key to REDD+'s success. Given the poor track record of efforts to promote clean cooking, more evidence is needed on the potential for REDD+ to reduce unsustainable extraction of biomass energy. We present a quasi-experimental impact evaluation of REDD+ in Nepal. Unsurprisingly, we find little evidence of impacts on forest carbon in just two years. We do find that REDD+ reduced forest disturbance as measured by four plot-level indicators (signs of forest fire, soil erosion, encroachment and wildlife) that are predictive of future changes in net carbon emissions and reflective of reduced extraction pressure by households. While our analysis of household survey data does not show that REDD+ reduced harvest of forest products, we find some evidence that it reduced household dependence on firewood for cooking, possibly by increasing use of biogas. Thus, communities in Nepal appear to have improved conditions in their forests without undermining local benefits of those forests. To secure progress towards reduced emissions and improved livelihoods, interventions must be designed to effectively meet household energy needs.
Sharma, BP; Karky, BS; Nepal, M; Pattanayak, SK; Sills, EO; Shyamsundar, P
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