Governance of Forests: Multiple Outcomes in the Bolivian Lowlands – Reconciling Livelihoods, Biodiversity Conservation and Carbon Sequestration

How can new institutional arrangements help reconcile livelihood-relevant factors of local populations with the UN program for Reducing Emissions for Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)?

Project Summary

Community forests are important in developing countries, where they have been expanding considerably. Implementation of the UN program for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) in local complex socio-ecological environments is facing serious challenges. The current focus on forest carbon tends to overlook the compatibility of such programs with other livelihood-relevant factors, such as non-timber products, agriculture and livestock.

The main focus of the proposed research concerns the question of how the institutional arrangements of local forest stakeholders shape multiple forest outcomes and trade-offs between livelihoods, biodiversity conservation and carbon sequestration. The interdisciplinary team will use techniques from the natural and social sciences. Fieldwork will be carried out in two Bolivian forest landscapes (dry savannahs and subtropical forest). The main findings will substantially advance existing theoretical work on the linkage between natural and human systems and identify some livelihood and institutional alternatives to deforestation and forest degradation.

Academic Output

Working Paper

Governance of Forest Multiple Outcomes in the Bolivian Lowlands: Reconciling Livelihoods, Biodiversity Conservation, and Carbon Sequestration

A critical aspect of implementing the un program for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation plus (Redd+) is the need to reconcile the requirements of local livelihoods, biodiversity conservation, and carbon sequestration in the context of community-based forestry. twelve case studies guided by an interdisciplinary framework drawing on sociology, agronomy, forestry, and remote sensing made it possible to compare the trade-offs between these three values in diverse local forest governance regimes under present conditions and to develop a future scenario for Redd+ implementation. the studies found the following: (1) high carbon emission of current agriculture systems and very low yield per hectare result in a low opportunity cost for agriculture implemented in old-growth forest; (2) in certain areas, for example in forestry-oriented settlements, financially compensated reduction of carbon emissions does not, as generally suggested, adequately mitigate deforestation and forest degradation (because of higher risks of leakage and a lack of local alternatives for investing set-off labour); and (3) Redd+ implementation can become part of sustainable forest management if the labour required for more sustainable forest governance is compensated, making it possible to raise professional capacities, self-governance, knowledge sharing, and the importance of non-timber forest products without compromising biodiversity conservation or income and food security resulting from agriculture and forestry. a shift in the focus of Redd+ implementation from the output (carbon sequestration) to input management (for sustainable forestry governance) is, therefore, an important lesson learnt that should be taken up by policymakers.

Executive Summary

See above for a summary.


Communal Folder “Alto Colorado”, Bolivia (in Spanish)

Research Team

Stephan Rist
University of Berne

Patrick Bottazzi
University of Michigan

Jean Paul Benavides
Principal Member
Centro de Estudios de la Realidad Economica y Social

Hy Dao
Principal Member
University of Geneva

Juan Carlos Mariscal
Principal Member
Université d’Agroécologie de Cochabamba

Stefan Schwarzer
Principal Member
United Nations Environment Programme

Marcelo Clavijo Serrudo
Principal Member
Université d’Agroécologie de Cochabamba

Patricia Uberhuaga
Principal Member
Centro de Estudios de la Realidad Economica y Social






Host Institution