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The community resource management area mechanism: a strategy to manage African forest resources for REDD+

Rebecca A Asare, Andrew Kyei, John J Mason
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences 2013, 368 (1625): 20120311
23878338
Climate change poses a significant threat to Africa, and deforestation rates have increased in recent years. Mitigation initiatives such as REDD+ are widely considered as potentially efficient ways to generate emission reductions (or removals), conserve or sustainably manage forests, and bring benefits to communities, but effective implementation models are lacking. This paper presents the case of Ghana's Community Resource Management Area (CREMA) mechanism, an innovative natural resource governance and landscape-level planning tool that authorizes communities to manage their natural resources for economic and livelihood benefits. This paper argues that while the CREMA was originally developed to facilitate community-based wildlife management and habitat protection, it offers a promising community-based structure and process for managing African forest resources for REDD+. At a theoretical level, it conforms to the ecological, socio-cultural and economic factors that drive resource-users' decision process and practices. And from a practical mitigation standpoint, the CREMA has the potential to help solve many of the key challenges for REDD+ in Africa, including definition of boundaries, smallholder aggregation, free prior and informed consent, ensuring permanence, preventing leakage, clarifying land tenure and carbon rights, as well as enabling equitable benefit-sharing arrangements. Ultimately, CREMA's potential as a forest management and climate change mitigation strategy that generates livelihood benefits for smallholder farmers and forest users will depend upon the willingness of African governments to support the mechanism and give it full legislative backing, and the motivation of communities to adopt the CREMA and integrate democratic decision-making and planning with their traditional values and natural resource management systems.

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