This paper investigates the role of forest tenure in creating a sustainable and effective mechanism on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). It draws together existing knowledge and experience of forest tenure issues as they play out in real contexts, and evaluates their implications for REDD+. In particular, it challenges the argument that simply harmonising different tenure systems will lead to improved tenure security and ensure that REDD+ does not disenfranchise local communities. By bringing to light the ways in which local tenure could shape the implementation of REDD+, this paper provides insights that can contribute to the design of a sustainable, effective and equitable REDD+ agreement. The findings suggest that a more nuanced and locally specific understanding of tenure security and ownership are required in order to create favourable grounds for REDD+ implementation.

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Author notes

* The research for this paper was generously supported by the Environmental Change Institute and the Oxford Martin School, both University of Oxford. We acknowledge the comments provided by three anonymous referees which have been extremely helpful. Any remaining errors or omissions remain our own.