Designing a Collaborative REDD Project: A Case Study from the Oddar Meanchey Province, Cambodia

Poffenberger, M., De Gryze, S., Durschinger, L.
January, 2009

THE ROYAL GOVERNMENT OF CAMBODIA and the Forestry Administration, along with Community Forestry International and Terra Global Capital, have designed the first Cambodian REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) carbon offset credit project. The project involves thirteen community forestry (CF) groups, comprised of fifty-eight villages, which protect 67,783 hectares of forestland in the northwestern province of Oddar Meanchey. This initiative will be one of the first to use a new methodology for submission under the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS), combined with the Climate Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) standards. It is expected to sequester 7.1 million metric tons of CO2 over thirty years, while reducing poverty among approximately ten thousand participating households, thereby demonstrating how developing countries can generate income from the carbon markets for the rural poor and positively impact climate change.

Why was Oddar Meanchey selected? Oddar Meanchey Province provides an ideal site for developing a REDD project. The province’s forests have been under intense pressure from commercial and illegal loggers, forest fire, economic land concessions and encroachment, losing 2.1 percent of its forests each year from 2002 to 2006. A growing number of communities in the province have been protecting the remaining natural forests as CF areas, including some of the largest community forests in the country. REDD project sites include larger tracts of healthy closed-canopy forests, as well as degraded forests suitable for restoration.

What are the expected benefits? This project supports sustainable forest management and livelihood development in Oddar Meanchey Province by providing financing through carbon credits generated through forest protection. The REDD strategy not only assists rural people to gain legal tenure rights over local forests, it also creates a thirty-year income stream that will significantly enhance household livelihoods and natural resource management capacity. The project seeks to retain and increase carbon stocks in these areas, enhancing the hydrology in the upland watersheds of the Tonle Sap Basin, as well as conserving endangered biodiversity. Carbon financing will be used to support rural communities in developing a range of livelihood activities, including nontimber forest product enterprises, community-based ecotourism infrastructure, and water resource development. Participating forest communities will work with the Forestry Administration and commune, district, and provincial government to formulate long-term plans for sustainable natural resource management to foster economic growth.

What is the commitment of the government of Cambodia? In May 2008, the project was officially endorsed by Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen through Sar Chor Nor No. 699. The guiding principles ensure that carbon revenues are used to (1) improve forest quality, (2) provide maximum benefits to local communities that participate in project activities, and (3) identify new REDD projects in Cambodia. The Sar Chor Nor No. 699 confirms the high-level commitment of the Royal Government of Cambodia to make the project a success and use its revenues effectively. The success of the Oddar Meanchey project will open the door for long-term financing for Cambodia’s national community forestry program, which could eventually encompass and protect over two million hectares of forest, and conform to the government’s stated goals under the Rectangular Development Strategy.

What do avoided deforestation projects consist of? This initiative is based on a new framework called REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), which received international support at the thirteenth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (DecisionCP.13) COP 13 in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2007. Under REDD, developed countries provide payments to compensate developing nations for forests that are sustainably managed. Currently, these payments are available through Voluntary Emissions Reduction markets. After 2012, a post-Kyoto agreement may see payments available through the official CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) market as well. REDD is a new approach to climate mitigation which gives greater recognition to the importance of protecting and sustainably managing tropical forest resources in developing countries. It is estimated that 17 percent of global CO2 emissions originate from the loss of forests associated with land use and land cover changes.