Forest conservation (REDD+)

Understanding how REDD+ projects Reduce Emission from Deforestation and forest Degradation

REDD+ projects use carbon finance to fund community activities that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation plus enhance sustainable forest management. As of today, REDD+ projects are one of the best ways to direct private sector funding to the forest communities that are stewards of our remaining tropical rainforests.

Supporting REDD+ projects is critical, every tonne of carbon lost to deforestation today could take years, even decades, to remove from the atmosphere and we are running out of time. Tropical rainforests are not only carbon rich, but also incredibly biodiverse and home to the majority of Earth’s plant and animal species.

The REDD+ framework was created by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to reduce deforestation in developing countries. Originally intended to accelerate national government action on deforestation, it accepts voluntary subnational implementation in the interim. Acknowledging the vital role forests play in achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, the REDD+ framework is recognized in Article 5 of the Paris Agreement.


To learn more about the complexities of REDD+ projects, watch the below webinar with two of our nature-based solutions experts and hear about:

  • Avoiding planned and unplanned deforestation
  • Establishing baseline and project scenarios
  • Measuring verified emission reductions
  • Managing leakage and buffer pools

What makes a high-quality REDD+ project?

As discussed in the webinar above with members our nature-based solutions technical team, high quality REDD+ forest conservation carbon projects should demonstrate the following characteristics:

  1. Additionality: the project should be achieving emissions reductions that would not have occurred in the absence of the project due to planned or unplanned deforestation.
  2. Baseline: the project should have a robust and transparent baseline of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation to accurately measure the emissions reductions of the project activities.
  3. Leakage: the project should monitor and account for unintended increases in emissions outside of the project area such as illegal logging shifting to the area just outside the project zone.
  4. Third-party verification: the project should have a transparent and robust monitoring, reporting, and verification system to ensure that the emissions reductions are accurately measured.
  5. Permanence: the project should manage a buffer pool of credits set aside to cover any unforeseen loss events and engage the community, so they are committed to the long-term stewardship of the forest carbon stocks.
  6. Co-benefits: the project should respect indigenous peoples' land rights, include the local communities in decision making, conserve precious biodiversity, and improved livelihoods based on sustainable income alternatives that do not rely on deforestation or forest degradation.

Carbon finance, through the sales of verified emission reductions, is used to fund community-led activities that address the specific drivers of deforestation in the local area and create alternative livelihoods. Common carbon financed REDD+ activities include:

  • Farmer training on sustainable land management and biodiversity conservation
  • Non-timber forest product cooperatives like fruits, nuts, honey and cocoa
  • Unarmed forest patrols to prevent illegal logging or poaching
  • Wildfire prevention and firefighting brigades
  • Support in legal recognition of land rights
  • School facilities and supplies
  • Clean water and sanitation
  • Technology access
  • Medical clinics

Project Drawdown on Forest Protection

"In their biomass and soil, forests are powerful carbon storehouses. Protection prevents emissions from deforestation, shields stored carbon, and enables ongoing carbon sequestration.

Mature, healthy forests have spent decades or centuries accumulating carbon through photosynthesis and storing it in soils and biomass. Today forests are rapidly being cleared and degraded, releasing this stored carbon loss and reducing forests’ ability to provide habitat, control erosion, build soil, regulate water quality and supply, and remove air pollution.

Since humans began farming, the number of trees on Earth has fallen by 46 percent. Emissions from tropical deforestation and forest degradation alone today are estimated at 5.1–8.4 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year—a staggering 14–21 percent of anthropogenic emissions (International Sustainability Unit, 2015). Forest protection could reduce these emissions by 5.56–8.83 gigatons by 2050."

Project Drawdown is the world’s leading resource for climate solutions |

The SDG impacts of forest conservation (REDD+) projects

In addition to delivering emissions reductions, which help to combat climate change (SDG 13) REDD+ projects are the only carbon project type today that can support all 17 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These include:

  1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
  11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development

Learn more about the impact of our projects

REDD+ Carbon Offset Project Methodologies 

All the carbon finance projects we support are independently validated and verified in line with recognized global standards, including the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), the Gold Standard, the American Carbon Registry (ACR) and the Climate Action Reserve (CAR).

Here are some examples of REDD+ carbon project methodologies used in the Voluntary Carbon Market.

VCS – Verified Carbon Standard:

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