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When implemented to the highest standards, REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) projects can support countries in realizing their climate goals by creating positive social and biodiversity impacts. Sustainably safeguarding carbon-rich landscapes requires conservation to take a rights-based approach that centers Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities’ (IPLCs’) efforts to preserve their forests. The benefit of REDD+ projects must be felt on the ground by the people who live in the forests.


To support this goal, Wildlife Works has co-created a set of best practices for implementing REDD+ projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in collaboration with the Nature Conservancy, a group of best-in-class DRC project practitioners and members of civil society.


The aim of this report is to enable the government of the DRC, DRC forest communities, and international auditors to more efficiently identify what conditions are needed to unlock community-centered REDD+ performance at scale. 

The DRC is the focal point of this report; however, it makes an excellent case study for REDD+ projects across other carbon-rich countries with large IPLC populations.

This report navigates the complex legal, political, environmental, and social realities of the Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) in the DRC, and provides insights which are applicable to running successful high quality REDD+ projects in other jurisdictions.


It presents guidelines, ethics, and recommendations for REDD+   project developers, and outlines the cornerstones of any successful REDD+ project. 

This includes how to implement: 


  • ​A novel method for baseline allocation that distributes national Forest Reference Emission Levels (FREL) according to future risk of deforestation. This method ensures that national governments can effectively use the VCM to concentrate the financial incentives in forest areas with the highest risk while contributing to their National Determined Contributions. 

  • Rigorous modeling and monitoring of avoided deforestation for any REDD+ project, with clearly defined, locally-based emission reduction targets for communities, and an incentive system to invest in  communities that meet targets. 

  • Thorough and transparent Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) processes which ensure communities are fully informed prior to the initiation of the project and are fully respected as implementation partners. .

  • Effective mechanisms for grievance and recourse for IPLCs. This includes providing explanations of national legislation and international good practice on grievances and recourse.

  • Best practices for revenue sharing, based on a two-decade-long foundation of knowledge gained from lessons learned from prior projects, such as legal requirements from governments and the  critical role of transparency and stakeholder engagement in successfully completing projects.

  • Best-in-class social and biodiversity monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) procedures, including international best practices for measuring and demonstrating the impacts of the REDD+ projects.

Best Practice REDD+ Private Sector Project Implementation Framework for the DRC

These guidelines were written by Wildlife Works in collaboration with a group of best-in-class DRC Project practitioners and members of DRC civil society. The work was funded by The Nature Conservancy. They are designed to not violate the principles and criteria of the leading international standards, while also allowing for adaptation to the fluidity of the burgeoning voluntary carbon market and the evolving standards that serve them.


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