Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Resource Conservation (International Conservation and Development)

Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Jill M. Belsky

Commitee Members

Laurie Yung, Kimber H. McKay


Carbon Payments, Community Forestry, Ecosystem Services, Nepal, REDD+


University of Montana


In response to global concern for the consequences of climate change, the United Nations’ Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) program was developed to support greenhouse gas emission reduction and carbon sequestration in developing countries. While still being developed around the world, in Nepal a REDD+ pilot project is being conducted with the involvement of the Nepali government’s Department of Forestry (DoF) and its community forestry program. The pilot project is called “REDD+ in Community Managed Forests in Nepal” (RCMFN). The commitment of Nepal’s government to carry out this project makes it an ideal location to study carbon payment implementation. My study sought to understand the opportunities and constraints of REDD+ payment program participation by community forest user groups (CFUGs) enrolled in the pilot project. CFUGs are the main management group in Nepal’s community forestry program. Research was conducted in two watersheds where RCMFN operates: Kayar Khola and Charniwati. Field research was undertaken January-August 2012 and involved largely qualitative methods including in-depth interviews with government and non-government staff working on REDD+ programs and with executives (presidents and secretaries) of twenty six CFUGs (35% of total in the two watersheds). Focus groups were held with CFUG members in each watershed to learn about their concerns (two focus groups in four CFUGs from each watershed). Results identified three sets of issues. The first involves constraints relating to the structure and requirements of global carbon standards and markets for community forest user group (CFUG) participation in REDD+ The main concerns were uncertainty regarding the program’s future and the requirement that funds are controlled by the DoF. The second set of issues focus on the role of NGOs and government partners as a link between CFUGs and global carbon markets. Here ongoing conflict between priorities of the DoF (to improve forests) and CFUGs (to improve both forests and local socioeconomic conditions) has led to mistrust between the two groups and concern over control and allocation of any payments coming from REDD+. Communication between the RCMFN and full CFUG membership also creates challenges for CFUG knowledge and support of REDD+. The third set of issues relate to the capacity of CFUGs to conduct the technical tasks required by REDD+ (e.g. carbon measurement, analysis, verification) as well their ability to do so in an efficient and equitable manner. Despite these many concerns CFUG executives and members remain positive that with training and education they will be able to conduct their own measurements and increase their capacity for managing funds ultimately benefitting from opportunities from REDD+ as well as community forestry. However, to realize these opportunities, ongoing conflict between the DoF and CFUGs over payment control still need to be addressed.



© Copyright 2013 Alexander Cuthbert Smith