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Forests 2012, 3(2), 244-264; doi:10.3390/f3020244
Article

Challenges of Opportunity Cost Analysis in Planning REDD+: A Honduran Case Study of Social and Cultural Values Associated with Indigenous Forest Uses

1,* , 1
 and
2
Received: 19 January 2012 / Revised: 24 April 2012 / Accepted: 15 May 2012 / Published: 24 May 2012
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Abstract

The REDD Programme is predicated on the assumption that developed countries will provide sufficient funds to offset opportunity costs associated with avoiding deforestation. The role of non-market values in indigenous land management may challenge the efficacy of compensation schemes targeted at meeting opportunity costs as calculated in traditional opportunity cost analysis (OCA). Furthermore it is unclear how these economic incentives might affect social and cultural values linked to land-use norms, livelihoods, and local governance. This study explores the economic, social and cultural values of forest uses for a Miskito community in the Rio Plátano Biosphere Reserve in Honduras. Data were collected using household surveys, farm visits, and community workshops. OCA indicates potential for successful REDD+ payment schemes; however it is an inadequate method to account for subsistence and cultural opportunity costs associated with avoided deforestation. Compensation to change land-use practices may undermine governance institutions necessary to address deforestation in the region. Our results indicate that small-scale agriculture and other forest-based subsistence activities are important cultural practices for maintaining Miskito identity and forest management institutions. Recommendations are offered for using OCA to develop REDD+ projects that recognize the linkages between social and cultural values and forest management by focusing on approaches that consider a full range of economic, social and cultural opportunity costs.
Keywords: REDD+; opportunity cost; indigenous; subsistence agriculture REDD+; opportunity cost; indigenous; subsistence agriculture
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Plumb, S.T.; Nielsen, E.A.; Kim, Y.-S. Challenges of Opportunity Cost Analysis in Planning REDD+: A Honduran Case Study of Social and Cultural Values Associated with Indigenous Forest Uses. Forests 2012, 3, 244-264.

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