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REDD+ pilot, Lacandon Jungle, Chiapas, Mexico


This in an intricate case on land rights and nature conservation. We focus on the recent "carbon credits" deal between the state of California and the state of Chiapas. In 2010 the government of the Mexican state of Chiapas signed an agreement under the Governors’ Climate and Forest Task Force (GCF) in order to sell carbon permits from REDD projects in the Lacandon jungle to the Government of California to offset their emissions. Lacandon jungle is one of the best preserved and a biodiversity rich forest in Mexico with a long history of conflicts over land rights. In the 17th century the original inhabitants were killed or left the area escaping slavery and the jungle was inhabited later by migrants from Guatemala and Yucatan. In 1972, 614,000 hectares of land was donated to 66 Lacandoneses and was declared as The Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve. This was questioned by settlers. Donating the land title was seen as a government strategic move to easily get signed consent for timber logging or tourism activities, and more recently REDD+ and carbon trade credits. This has added to the existing chaos of overlapping land titles of original no-Lacandones communities. In 1994 a new actor appeared, the Zapatista Army of national Liberation (EZLN) movement.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:REDD+ pilot, Lacandon Jungle, Chiapas, Mexico
State or province:Chiapas
Location of conflict:Amador Hernández
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Biopiracy and bio-prospection
Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Agro-fuels and biomass energy plants
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Biological resources
Carbon offsets
Ecosystem Services
Palm oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Each person gets 2,000 pesos or 160 dollars monthly for keeping its forest. The carbon credits are sold by the state of Chiapas to the state of California.

Project area:1,300,000
Level of Investment for the conflictive projectMonthly around 260,000 USD (3,356,000 pesos)
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:1,678,000 (people participating in the project)
Start of the conflict:2010
End of the conflict:2013
Company names or state enterprises:The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR) - Calculation of the project baseline and monitoring system
Conservation International (CI) - Promotion and implementation of sub-national projects in state of Chiapas. Key actor and co-funder of the Climate Change Action Programme for the State of Chiapas (PACCCH)
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) - One of the investors
The Governors' Climate and Forests Task Force (GCF) - Main investor and future buyer of carbon credits from the REDD+ pilot
El Colegio de Posgraduados (COLPOS) - Partner on development of scientific and technical bases for implementation of PACCCH
Universidad Autónoma de México (UNAM) from Mexico - Partner on development of scientific and technical bases for implementation of PACCCH
Pronatura Sur - NGO responsible of training with the local community to implement REDD projects
AMBIO - NGO responsible of training with the local community to implement REDD projects
Relevant government actors:The Government of California; The Government of state of Chiapas, Mexico; The Secretary of Environment and Natural History of Chiapas (SEMAHN);The National Commission for Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO); The National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP)
International and Finance InstitutionsBritish Embassy in Mexico from United Kingdom - Main funder of PACCCH
United States Agency for International Development (USAID) (USAID) from United States of America - Funder of PACCCH
The World Bank (WB) from United States of America - Funding through its GEF Global Environment Fund
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:COCYP Central de Organizaciones Campesinas y Populares –Chiapas; Comité de derechos Humanos Oralia Morales; Comité de derechos humanos de base de Chiapas Digna Ochoa; Otros Mundos Chiapas / Amigos de La tierra México; Reddeldia; Movimiento Mexicano de Alternativas a las Afectaciones y Cambio; Climático MOVIAC-Chiapas; Organización Campesina Emiliano Zapata- Región Carranza; Organización Proletaria Emiliano Zapata –MLN; Laklumal-ixim. Norte- Selva, Chiapas; Red Mexican a de Afectados por la Minería REMA- Chiapas; Movimiento de Afectados por las Presas y en defensa de los ríos; MAPDER –Colectivo Tsunel Bej; Grupo ETC; Global Justice Ecology Project; Indigenous Environmental Network; Carbon Trade Watch; Global Forest Coalition; Timberwatch Coalition; Grassroots International; Grassroots Global Justice Alliance; Movement Generation Justice and Ecology Project
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Threats to use arms
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Fires, Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Deaths
Potential: Malnutrition
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Project cancelled
Proposal and development of alternatives:National and international CSO demanded cancellation of the REDD+ agreement among Chiapas and California.
Local people are rejecting REDD+ in any of its forms.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Even though the REDD+ pilot was suspended, the Action Program on Climate Change in Chiapas (PACCCH) continues to refer to REDD+ as a keystone of the state’s climate change strategy, indicating that the project could be implemented as a part of the ENAREDD+ in other areas, such as the natural protected areas El Triunfo and El Ocote in Sierra Madre region. According to the Mexican government and ONG sector working on a design of ENAREDD+, it would include solid social safeguards that will guarantee the local people rights to request implementing REDD+ under their conditions or to reject its implementation. This has yet to be seen.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Programa de Acción Ante el Cambio Climático del Estado de Chiapas (PACCCH)
[click to view]

REDD+: Crónica de un fracaso anunciado.
[click to view]

REDD: nombres para el despojo
[click to view]

Se deslinda Ecosur de proyecto en Selva Lacandona
[click to view]

Implementarían REDD+ en Sierra Madre de Chiapas
[click to view]

Chiapas State Government Says REDD Is Alive And Well And Far From 'Cancelled'
[click to view]

Protests in Chiapas against REDD: “Stop the land grabs!”
[click to view]

People’s Forum Against REDD+ in Chiapas, Mexico
[click to view]

Vía Campesina declares its opposition to REDD in the Lacandón jungle
[click to view]

México cede sus bosques y selvas a Redd+
[click to view]

Chiapas, Mexico: From Living in the jungle to ‘existing’ in “little houses made of ticky-tacky…”
[click to view]

[click to view]

Suspendido el programa REDD Plus, dice Semahn
[click to view]

Chiapas: REDD Alert - Urgent Action Needed
[click to view]

Suspendido el programa REDD Plus, dice Semahn
[click to view]

Chiapas cancels 'disastrous' forest plan linked to Calif. cap-and-trade program
[click to view]

California REDD: A False Solution
[click to view]

Statement from Chiapas, Mexico: REDD project is a climate mask “to cover up the dispossession of the biodiversity of the peoples”
[click to view]

A Broken Bridge to the Jungle: The California-Chiapas Climate Agreement Opens Old Wounds
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

¿Conservación de la naturaleza o especulación y despojo?
[click to view]

REDD: la codicia por los árboles (The greed for trees) - English subtitle 1/5
[click to view]

A Darker Shade of Green REDD Alert and the Future of Forests
[click to view]

Trailer de 'REDD: la codicia por los árboles. El Caso Chiapas: la Selva Lacandona al mejor postor'
[click to view]

Indigenous people protest against REDD+ in Chiapas
[click to view]

Foro Campesino e Indigena sobre REDD - Lilibeth Aguilar Velazquez
[click to view]

Amador Hernandez, Chiapas: Starved of Medical Services for REDD
[click to view]

Protesta contra REDD+ en Chiapas
[click to view]

REDD : la codicia por los árboles (El Caso Chiapas: la Selva Lacanandona al mejor postor)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Jovanka Spiric, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, vankajo(at)
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1297
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