Land Conservation and Forest Restoration, Miscellaneous

Costa Rica and the World Bank sign novel REDD+ agreement

by Florencia Franzini

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Members of the Costa Rican government, including president Laura Chinchilla, and representatives from the World Bank sign a landmark REDD+ agreement. Photo Credit: the World Bank.

On September 10, 2013, Costa Rica and the World Bank, acting for the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, signed a letter of intent stating the terms of negotiation for its Emissions Reduction Payment Agreement. The ERPA would allow for the FCPF to purchase carbon emissions, or “carbon credits,” for up to a value of $63 million – making Costa Rica the first nation to access large-scale payments for conserving and regenerating its forests and scaling up agro-forestry systems for sustainable landscapes and livelihoods.

The carbon credits purchase program aims to conserve and regenerate forest and sustainably develop 340,000 hectares (840,200 acres) of privately owned land. Aside from the large scale, this program stands out due to the fact that 10% of the targeted land belongs to indigenous peoples. Costa Rica will allow these landowners to participate in the Payments for Environmental Services program, put into effect by the National Forestry Fund and the Minister of Environment and Energy in 1997 to compensate landowners for planting and protecting trees on their land, and for enriching biodiversity conservation of the local ecosystem.

This proposed Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) concept is one of the first programs that has been undertaken on a national scale, and is by far one of the largest programs of its kind. Costa Rica has long been a pioneer in the preservation of its ecological habitats and in its aim to promote sustainability and green growth, so it comes as no surprise that they should be willing to take part in this innovative project. Costa Rica also hopes the REDD+ scheme will help contribute to the country’s bold carbon neutrality goal by 2021. Estimate show that about 80% of the projected carbon emissions reduction will be coming from this project alone.

The World Bank supports the REDD+ scheme due to the fact that efforts will contribute to the management of forest and agricultural landscapes through a ecologically integrated approach, but they are also looking at this program to provide an increase in sustainable wood production, to promote the use of certified wood products, and to create new employment opportunities for small scale farmers.