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International Journal of Forestry Research
Volume 2014, Article ID 563021, 10 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/563021
Research Article

A Step Prior to REDD+ Implementation: A Socioeconomic Study

Department of Wood and Forest Sciences, Laval University, 2405 rue de la Terrasse, Pavillon Abitibi-Price, Quebec, QC, Canada G1V 0A6

Received 20 June 2014; Revised 31 July 2014; Accepted 14 August 2014; Published 1 September 2014

Academic Editor: Sunil Nautiyal

Copyright © 2014 Anne Bernard and Nancy Gélinas. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Phase 2 of the United Nations’ REDD+ climate change mitigation initiative is underway in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Meanwhile, activities are being implemented to assess the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. REDD+ projects need to include a social dimension; thus, the aim of this research was to understand how land-use relationships vary across communities in an area where a REDD+ project is planned. Specifically, we aimed to identify the primary income-generating activities, the variation in access to land, the potential for the development of community projects, and the implementation of alternative income-generating activities. In the summer of 2013, we assessed a REDD+ pilot project in and around the Luki Biosphere Reserve, Bas-Congo Province. We used participatory rural appraisal (PRA) methods in four communities located both inside and outside the reserve. We found that current subsistence income activities led to the destruction of forest habitat due to population pressure and a lack of alternative income-generating activities. Customary land tenures overlay statutory rights, which can often mean that community rights are threatened. To achieve their targets, REDD+ projects should consider the actual land-use patterns of local communities in order to generate sustainable income from the land.