A methodological characteristic of the REDD+ scheme is that it attempts to reduce deforestation by rewarding communities that change problematic land use practices. This has led to discussions on benefit sharing. This article focuses on incentives for alternative land use practices among village members living in frontier areas, especially in relation to support for sustainable land use and people’s livelihoods, and clarifies the issues that REDD+ projects are likely to face in this context. Although some documents regarding REDD+ projects have mentioned support to encourage such incentives, insufficient consideration has been given to the realities of the changes in frontier communities. REDD+ projects are unlikely to motivate members to embrace alternative land use practices if support or benefit sharing does not match members’ expectations. Here, we examine the changes in household (HH) income and structure, as well as in livelihood activities, experienced by Cambodian frontier villagers living at the site of a planned REDD+ project. During the nine years compared in this study, the frontier villages experienced broad and imbalanced changes in HH income owing to the rapid expansion of the cultivation of cash crops. Our results indicate that benefit sharing or support inevitably becomes more difficult and challenging in frontier areas than in areas where subsistence production systems still predominate, although such frontiers could, in theory, yield maximum returns with regard to forest carbon balance if the REDD+ projects addressed benefit sharing and support and came to fruition.
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