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Evaluating safeguards in a conservation incentive program : participation, consent, and benefit sharing in indigenous communities of the Ecuadorian Amazon

  • Torsten Krause
  • Wain Collen
  • Kimberly Nicholas
Publishing year: 2013
Language: English
Pages: 1-16
Publication/Series: Ecology & Society
Volume: 18
Issue: 4
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: The Resilience Alliance

Abstract english

Critics suggest that Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) may not generate improvements in well-being for participating stakeholders, and may in fact undermine indigenous rights. To ensure positive social benefits from REDD+ projects, the United Nations REDD Programme has proposed core safeguards, including local stakeholder participation; free, prior, and informed consent; and equitable distribution of benefits. However, there is little

experience to date in implementing and evaluating these safeguards. We apply these core safeguards as a framework to study

how people in indigenous communities in the Ecuadorian Amazon perceive and benefit from Programa Socio Bosque, a

conservation incentive program in Ecuador’s national REDD+ Programme portfolio. We interviewed 101 individuals in five

communities that had participated in the Programa Socio Bosque for at least 18 months. Close to 80% of respondents reported

that the decision to join Socio Bosque was made democratically, that they were familiar with the conservation goals of Socio

Bosque, and that they were aware which area their community had selected for conservation. However, only 17% were familiar

with the overall terms of the conservation agreement, implying that they were either not fully informed of or did not fully

understand what they were consenting to in joining the program. Although the terms of the program require a community

investment plan to be democratically developed by community members, less than half of respondents were aware of the existence

of the investment plan, and fewer than 20% had participated in its development. The majority of respondents (61%) reported

that they did not know the amount of incentives that their community currently receives, and only 44% stated that incentives

were managed democratically in communal assemblies. Moreover, although a slight majority (53%) said they had noticed

benefits to the community from participating in Socio Bosque, the majority (57%) said their family had not received any benefits.

These results demonstrate a need to strengthen inclusive participation, better inform participants about program design, and

improve the management of incentives within communities if incentive-based conservation programs are to achieve their social

development and environmental goals.


  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


  • ISSN: 1708-3087
Torsten Krause
E-mail: torsten [dot] krause [at] lucsus [dot] lu [dot] se

Associate senior lecturer

LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)

+46 73 423 94 15

Josephson 211B

Josephson, Biskopsgatan 5,


P.O. Box 170, SE-222 70 Lund, Sweden
Phone: +46(0)46- 222 80 81
info [at] lucsus [dot] lu [dot] se