The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation program, or REDD+, has been the international community’s first real attempt to create a global forest governance system which would impact countries on national, regional and even local scales. This paper provides an in-depth analysis on the impact of REDD+ on forest-dependent communities. The dimensions which are included in this review are institutions and governance, livelihoods, socio-cultural aspects, and the environment. Many studies confirm that forest-dependent communities are not sufficiently involved in current REDD+ projects. Furthermore, current and potential impacts of REDD+ on communities often disrupt local peoples’ livelihoods and strategies, institutions and socio-cultural systems in various ways, such as unequal benefit sharing, food insecurity, introduction of new powerful stakeholders, illegal land acquisition, unfair free prior and informed consent, and the introduction of monoculture plantations. REDD+ is also perceived as a neoliberal mechanism which renegotiates peoples’ relationship with the natural environment by monetizing nature. The paper concludes with a framework which addresses the potential drivers and threats of REDD+ concerning forest-dependent communities based on the literature review. This framework suggests a holistic approach to REDD+ implementation, which incorporates forest-dependent communities’ often complex relationship with the natural environment, such as incorporation of traditional forest management systems and provision of viable alternatives to loss of agricultural land.
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