Missing the forest for the trees? Navigating the trade-offs between mitigation and adaptation under REDD

Ingalls, Micah L.; Dwyer, Michael B. (2016). Missing the forest for the trees? Navigating the trade-offs between mitigation and adaptation under REDD. Climatic change, 136(2), pp. 353-366. Springer 10.1007/s10584-016-1612-6

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Forested landscapes play a critical role in mitigating climate change by sequesteringcarbon while at the same time fostering adaption by supporting ecosystem services, therecognition of which is reflected in the recent Paris Agreement on climate change. It has beensuggested, therefore, that the conservation of forested landscapes may provide a potential win-win in the fight against global environmental change. Despite the potential synergies betweenmitigation and adaptation efforts, recent studies have also raised concerns about possible trade-offs. Our research employs the analytic lens of social-ecological resilience to explore theintersection between mitigation and adaptation in the context of a Reduced Emissions fromDeforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) project in Lao PDR. Drawing on ecosystemanalyses, group discussions and interviews with policy makers, practitioners and resource-dependent communities, we identify three potential limitations of REDD for achieving climatesynergies. First, by disrupting existing disturbance regimes, REDD interventions run the riskof reducing diversity and structural heterogeneity and thus may undermine functional redun-dancy core to resilience. Second, REDD-as-practiced has tended to select local, rather thanstructural, drivers of deforestation, focusing disproportionately on curtailing local livelihoodpractices, reducing local resources for adaptation. Third, REDD risks redirecting ecosystemservice benefits away from local communities toward state agencies, incentivizing recentrali-zation and limiting the scope of local governance. We argue that REDD’s potential fordelivering synergies between climate change mitigation and adaptation in Laos is currentlyattenuated by structural factors rooted in development policies and broader political-economictrajectories in ways that may not be legible to, or adequately addressed by, current programmesand policy.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)

UniBE Contributor:

Ingalls, Micah








Stephan Schmidt

Date Deposited:

30 Jun 2020 10:36

Last Modified:

05 Jul 2020 02:43

Publisher DOI:






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