in Cameroon, Republic of Congo

“The REDD+ mechanism will not be enough to curb deforestation in Central Africa”: CIFOR

“Enforcing sustainable logging and assigning a monetary value to the carbon stored in forest concessions managed under the REDD+ mechanism will not be enough to curb deforestation in Central Africa.”

That’s from CIFOR’s Forest News Blog, in a post about a recent study carried out by the Center for International Forestry Research and CIRAD, a French agricultural and development research organisation. The researchers looked at two countries: Cameroon and the Republic of Congo.

They were not looking at whether REDD could compete with the expansion of agricultural concessions. Instead, they were looking at whether “sustainably managed” logging concessions that trades REDD carbon credits could compete with agricultural concessions. Here’s translation of the conclusion from the Executive Summary of the report:

Operating a hectare of forest appears to be a much less profitable than most cash crops (except cocoa in Cameroon), especially as it “freezes” a very large forest area, since the operation occurs on only 1/30th of the total area of ​​the concession each year. REDD+ pilot studies carried out by FORAFAMA project in concessions in Cameroon and the Congo indicate that reducing greenhouse gas emissions can at best generate a profit of 5,500 FCFA/ha/year, a net present value around 60,000 FCFA per hectare. If we add to that the profit derived from sustainable exploitation of timber, forest concession remains a much less attractive option from a financial point of view than most cash crops. The REDD+ mechanism is not today an approach that enables forest concessions to withstand better this type of agricultural pressure.

One of the authors of the report is Guillaume Lescuyer, a CIRAD scientist working with CIFOR. On the CIFOR Forests News Blog, he comments that,

“Unfortunately, with the current prices on the carbon markets, REDD+ does not bring significant additional benefits. It is more promising to look at agroforestry or artisanal logging to be combined with industrial logging to enhance the financial values of concessions.”

The report calculates the net present value of various land uses in Cameroon:

Land use Net present value (US$)
per hectare
Rubber (industrial plantation) 8,045
Rubber (smallholder) 3,759
Oil palm (industrial plantation) 2,999
Oil palm (smallholder) 5,699
Cocoa (smallholder) 427
Timber (from “sustainably managed” concession) 1,408
REDD 113

Lescuyer notes that,

“For REDD+ to be able to come to the rescue of the forests in the region, there is a need for the value for carbon on the global market to increase dramatically.”

The chances of that happening any time soon seem slim, to say the least.


In June 2014, at a meeting of the World Bank’s FCPF Carbon Fund, participants noted “their current willingness to pay up to US$5/t CO2e”. While this is not a final decision that the price of carbon under the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility will be US$5, it is a clear statement that countries paying for REDD won’t pay more than US$5 per tonne.

The Carbon Fund’s 12th meeting takes place next week. The price of carbon is not on the agenda, although Cameroon will be making an “Early Ideas” presentation on its Emission Reductions Program Idea Note. The presentation makes no mention of the price of carbon.

PHOTO credit: Rubber plantation in southern Cameroon, CIRAD.

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