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2015-11-13 | project

Group decisions over the allocation of REDD payments: A natural experiment from Tanzania

The goal of this project is to link frameworks of community or group resource management rules and of individual incentives for resource conservation in response to policy to inform and improve the success of REDD implementation in Tanzania.  The project’s direct connection to Tanzania’s policy process through collaboration with TFCG will expand the role of environmental economics capacity within that policy process and promote effective policies to address climate change through REDD.

REDD is currently being piloted in 31 forests in Tanzania with funds being allocated to “compensate” the villages involved.  As REDD is scaled up, how REDD payments are allocated and the implications of different allocation mechanisms will be an important issue for forest management in Tanzania and for the success of REDD because the allocation determines the response of individuals. How individual behaviour reacts to group benefit sharing as part of the REDD pilot scheme in Tanzania will determine the amount of avoided deforestation and degradation the pilots induce. Even direct payments to individuals do not guarantee that the individuals will change behaviour and conserve resources – monitoring and enforcement are required. Implementing REDD will require understanding those communities’ forest management/use decisions and their likely response to REDD policies, particularly as regards whether payments are made for a community level benefit or individual benefit.

Our research is relevant not only to REDD but to other forms of payments for environmental services (PES) where payments are made at the community level and the group determines how these payments are allocated. Therefore, the scale of the research problem that we address is considerable and relevant not only to Tanzania but to most African countries where REDD and other PES approaches are a part of forest management strategies.

The key problem here is that REDD involves constraining individual household behaviour with respect to extraction of resources from forests, yet REDD payments are at the group level.  Little research has been undertaken (i) to understand why village groups, when given the choice, choose to allocate these funds at the village or individual level; and (ii) how the choice of allocation mechanism affects villager behaviour, forest management, and carbon outcomes.