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Ten of the worst REDD-type projects

A recently released booklet, “No REDD Papers, Volume 1” (pdf file 2.5 MB), includes a list of 10 of the worst REDD-type projects affecting indigenous peoples. The booklet was produced by Carbon Trade Watch, Global Justice Ecology Project, Indigenous Environmental Network, Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative and Timberwatch Coalition.

The booklet also includes critiques of carbon trading, explanations of how REDD threatens Indigenous Peoples, local communities and forests. It looks at the potential beneficiaries of REDD and explains why REDD is not a solution. A fascinating article by Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network explains why REDD cannot be fixed by attempts to detach it from the carbon markets, by attempts to ensure that the money “goes to the right place”, or by attempts to include free, prior and informed consent.

No REDD Papers, Volume I is a must read for all who seek to know the truth about this mercantilist tool called REDD. It is also highly recommended for those who believe that policies to fight the current climate chaos must see the people and Mother Earth, and not merely see trees as commodities for cash and carbon speculation.”
Nnimmo Bassey, winner of the Right Livelihood award in 2010, Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth, Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Chair of Friends of the Earth International.

Here’s the list of the ten worst REDD-type projects, from No REDD Papers, Volume I:

Ten of the worst REDD-type projects[1] Affecting Indigenous Peoples & Local Communities

Latin America

1. Chevron uses armed guards for a REDD-type project in Brazil. The Nature Conservancy, General Motors, American Electric Power, Society for Wildlife Research and Environmental Education, and Chevron (previously known as Texaco), infamous for destruction caused in Ecuadorian Amazon, have implemented the Guaraqueçaba Climate Action Project in the ancestral territory of Guarani People with uniformed armed guards called “Força Verde” or “Green Force” who intimidate and persecute local communities; jailing and shooting at people who go into forest as well as forcibly entering and searching private homes without due authorization[2] “…[T]he project has caused devastating impacts on the local communities…”[3]

2. An Indigenous leader was criminalized for defending his people and territory from an Australian carbon cowboy who duped the Matsés People of the Peruvian Amazon into signing a REDD-type contract for perpetuity and written in English, which grants the carbon trader total control over the Matsés People’s land, way of life, intellectual property, forests and carbon. The contract also stipulates that anyone who denounces this scam will be sued.[4] The carbon trader has brought charges against Indigenous Matsés Leader Daniel Jimenez. National and international Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations, AIDESEP (National Organization of the Amazonian Indigenous Peoples of Peru) and COICA (Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin), demanded the expulsion of the carbon trader from Peru.[5] The carbon trader has censored and attacked the freedom of expression and freedom of press of a journalist who covered the story for REDD Monitor.[6]

3. Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation are threatened by REDD-type plantation projects related to the Inter-Oceanic Highway and logging concessions to be implemented near their territories in the Peruvian Amazon. Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation avoid contact with other people and societies and live in remote regions. They are highly vulnerable for a number of reasons including their lack of defenses against common diseases. Contact with others such as REDD-type project implementers in the Madre de Dios region of the Peruvian Amazon could be disastrous for the Yora People and the Amahuaca People who live in voluntary isolation.[7]

4. In Bolivia, BP, whose oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was the biggest environmental disaster in the history of the United States, participates in the biggest REDD-type project in the world in the Chiquitano People’s territory, which helps it to greenwash its destruction of biodiversity and communities’ livelihoods.[8] Yet another example of the extractive industries like Dow, Rio Tinto, Shell, Statoil, BP Amoco, American Electric Power—AEP and BHB Billiton which have historically caused pollution and deforestation and are promoting REDD as a profitable opportunity to “offset” their ongoing pillaging of the planet. As noted in the New York Times, “… programs to pay for forest preservation could merely serve as a cash cow for the very people who are destroying them.”[9]

5. In numerous places in the world, REDD-type projects and policies are being implemented in violation of the right of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). In Ecuador, the government continues to develop a REDD program despite the fact that the most representative organization of Indigenous Peoples, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, (CONAIE), has explicitly rejected the implementation of all REDD+ policies and projects in the country.[10]


6. Despite Amnesty International’s recommendation to “stop immediately the practice of forced evictions,”[11] as Kenya’s Mau Forest is made “ready” for a UNEP-funded REDD+ project, members of the Ogiek People continue to suffer violent evictions, and Ogiek activists are attacked for protesting land grabs.[12] Minority Rights Group International includes the Ogiek People in their list of “Peoples Under Threat” from genocide, mass killings or violent repression[13] and this latest wave of evictions could threaten the cultural survival of the Ogiek People.

7. Over 22,000 people were violently evicted from the Mubende and Kiboga districts in Uganda to make way for the UK-based New Forests Company to plant trees, to earn carbon credits and ultimately to sell the timber.[14] According to the New York Times, “New Forests Company, grows forests in African countries with the purpose of selling credits from the carbon dioxide its trees soak up to polluters abroad.”[15] The New York Times also reports “… [V]illagers described gun-toting soldiers and an 8-year-old child burning to death when his home was set ablaze by security officers.[16] New Forests Company is 20% owned by the HSBC bank and investors in the project include the World Bank. Evicted successful farmers are reduced to becoming poorly paid plantation peons on the land they were evicted from. “Homeless and hopeless, Mr. Tushabe said he took a job with the company that pushed him out. He was promised more than $100 each month, he said, but received only about $30.”[17]


8. Two of the biggest greenhouse polluters on the planet, oil giants Gazprom and Shell, which is infamous for the genocide of the Ogoni People and environmental destruction in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, bankroll the Rimba Raya REDD project in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.[18] The project is also supported by the Clinton Foundation and approved by the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VSC) and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA). Nnimmo Bassey, the Director of Environmental Rights Action (FoE Nigeria) and Chair of Friends of the Earth International, says, “We have suffered Shell’s destruction of communities and biodiversity as well as oil spills and gas flaring for decades. Now we can add financing REDD for greenwash and profits to the long list of Shell’s atrocities.”[19]


9. In Papua New Guinea, “carbon cowboys” are running amok, conning and coercing communities into signing away their land rights with fake contracts.[20] The land and power of attorney of 45,000 indigenous in East Pangia was handed over to a carbon trader.[21] “Carbon finance and REDD have triggered a ‘gold rush’ mentality.”[22] Scandals, scams and fraud abound.[23]

State to state: California, USA and Chiapas, Mexico

10. The State of California is promoting subnational carbon market REDD in Chiapas, Mexico, Acre, Brazil, Aceh, Indonesia and Cross River, Nigeria.[24] In Chiapas, Mexico, Tzeltal People of the community of Amador Hernandez denounce the California REDD project as a climate mask “to cover up the dispossession of the biodiversity of the peoples.”[25] The community has denounced what they perceived as a land grab. A year before, the villagers said, all government medical services, including vaccinations, had been cut off; several elderly people and children died due to lack of medical attention. This neglect, they believed, was due to their refusal to capitulate to the demands of REDD. “They’re attacking our health as a way of getting access to our land,” Martinez said.[26] The community has asked the governor of Chiapas to “suspend the state REDD+ project in the Lacandon Community Zone, as it constitutes a counterinsurgency plan that promotes conflicts between neighboring communities.”[27]


[1] ^^ REDD-type projects are not necessarily official REDD projects but they are relevant to understanding potential impacts of REDD insofar as they involve forest carbon credits.

[2] ^^ PBS/Frontline World, Carbon Watch, Centre for Investigative Journalism,
REDD Monitor, “Injustice on the carbon frontier in Guaraqueçaba, Brazil,”
Mother Jones, “GM’s Money Trees,”
National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC, Fall 2011, “Conversations with the Earth,”

[3] ^^ World Rainforest Movement, “Forest carbon project in Paraná, Brazil: Reduction of deforestation and persecution of local communities,”

[4] ^^ AIDESEP (National Organization of the Amazonian Indigenous Peoples of Peru), “Declaración de Iquitos,”

[5] ^^ REDD Papers—Volume I (2011), “Colonizing territories with REDD: An Australian ‘Carbon Cowboy’ and the Matsés People in the Peruvian Amazon”;
REDD Monitor, “AIDESEP and COICA condemn and reject ‘carbon cowboy’ and demand his expulsion from Peru,”

[6] ^^ REDD Monitor (2011), “A ‘carbon cowboy,’ internet censorship and REDD-Monitor,” and “‘Carbon cowboy’ [CENSORED] denounces indigenous chief in Peru,”

[7] ^^ NO REDD: A Reader (2010), “Enclosure of forests and peoples: REDD and the Inter-Oceanic Highway in Peru,”

[8] ^^ Cardona, T. et. al., “Extractive Industries and REDD,” in No REDD:A Reader (2010).

[9] ^^ New York Times, Elisabeth Rosenthal (2009), “In Brazil, Paying Farmers to Let the Trees Stand”, August 21.

[10] ^^ CONAIE, “Open Letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon demanding cancelation of all REDD projects,” REDD Papers—Volume I, original in Spanish,

[11] ^^ Amnesty International, Kenya: Nowhere to Go: Forced Evictions in Mau Forest, “Incidents of forced evictions have been reported in different areas of the Mau Forest since 2004, affecting thousands of families,”, p.1-2.

[12] ^^ See: International Working Group on Indigenous Affairs (2011), “Kenya’s ‘Forest People’ in Bitter Fight for their Ancestral Homes,” April 15. Minority Rights Group International (2011),
“Minority Rights Group Condemns Targeted Attacks on Ogiek Activists,” March 7. First Peoples International (2011),
“In new Kenya, old guard ‘land-grabbers’ attack key leaders -Ogiek land activists survive assaults.” Interim Coordinating Secretariat, Office of the Prime Minister on behalf of the Government of Kenya,
“Rehabilitation of the Mau Forest Ecosystem.” Los Angeles Times (2010),
“Kenyan tribe slowly driven off its ancestral lands.” Survival International (2010),
“Kenyan tribe’s houses torched in Mau Forest eviction,” April 8.
REDD Monitor (2009), “Ogiek threatened with eviction from Mau Forest.”

[13] ^^ The Standard,

[14] ^^ The Guardian (2011), “Ugandan farmer: ‘My land gave me everything. Now I’m one of the poorest’,”
Wall Street Journal (2011), “African Land Acquisitions Comes Under Scrutiny,”

[15] ^^ New York Times (2011), “In Uganda, Losing Land to Planted Trees—Slide Show,”

[16] ^^ New York Times, “In Scramble for Land, Group Says, Company Pushed Ugandans Out,”

[17] ^^ Ibid.

[18] ^^ REDD Monitor (2010), “Shell REDD project slammed by Indigenous Environmental Network and Friends of the Earth Nigeria,”

[19] ^^ Ibid.

[20] ^^ Gridneff, I. (2011), “Carbon conmen selling the sky,” The Sydney Morning Herald.

[21] ^^ “A Breath of Fresh Air,” video by Jeremy Dawes,

[22] ^^ Sydney Morning Herald,

[23] ^^ REDD Monitor, “REDD Projects in Papua New Guinea ‘Legally untenable’,”

[24] ^^ REDD Monitor, “Just what REDD Needed. Carbon Offsets and another Abbreviation. Welcome to R-20,”

[25] ^^ REDD Monitor (2011) Statement from Chiapas, Mexico: REDD project is a climate mask “to cover up the dispossession of the biodiversity of the peoples,”

[26] ^^ Ibid.

[27] ^^ Climate Connections (2011), “Environmental, Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights Groups Reject International Offsets in California’s Global Warming Solutions Act,”

Leave a Reply

  1. I am shocked the Shift2neutral/Brett Goldsworthy scams in Philippines and other countrys are not highlighed…

  2. Perhaps we should collect submissions for the worst REDD projects.

    Personally, I was disappointed not to see Asia Pulp and Paper’s REDD scam on the Kampar Peninsular.

    And any list of the worst REDD projects must be incomplete without at least a passing mention of the complete mess that Bharrat Jagdeo and his cronies are making in Guyana.

    And then there’s the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, which isn’t really a project and so should perhaps fall into a different category…

    Any more suggestions?