This research project will map the channels through which REDD+ could impact upon different forest tax systems in sub-Saharan Africa, and develop proposals to increase the probability that these impacts will be positive. There is considerable overlap between forest tax and Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) objectives: both aim to manage forests sustainably (e.g. avoid excessive deforestation generally, and overexploitation of particular species); both seek to minimise ‘illegal forest activities’ that would undermine this goal; both require effective monitoring and enforcement mechanisms to achieve these goals. They may also have other complementary goals: REDD+ may seek to facilitate ‘sustainable livelihoods’ amongst forest communities, for example, while forest tax revenue sharing mechanisms may have similar objectives.
Given these overlaps, the implementation of REDD+ may offer a significant opportunity to leverage positive change in forest tax systems. This will only occur, however, if the overlaps and tensions between the two systems are properly understood, and each is designed to complement the activities of the other. As a first stage in this process, primary research will be undertaken in three countries – Cameroon, Ghana and Sierra Leone – which differ across a number of dimensions. It is hoped that these differences will help enhance the relevance of the findings for other sub-Saharan African countries, and also lay the foundations for a longer-term programme of research in this area.