The present study investigates the forest governance structure for REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) implementation in a protected forest of Bangladesh, namely Rema-Kalenga Wildlife Sanctuary (RKWS). The study analyses the key aspects of forest governance, focusing on drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, governance deficit, institutions and social networks, co-benefits, and opportunities and challenges of REDD+ in RKWS. Focus group discussions and key informant interviews were used for primary data collection from different forest stakeholders, including forest-dependent communities, Forest Department (FD) and co-management project staffs. The survey revealed that REDD+ not only on technical issues but even more on how the evolving mechanism is governed on various levels, ranging from local to international. Although a majority (69.5%) of the respondents were motivated to engage in REDD+, indigenous communities were less interested in fear of loss of access to and use of land and forest resources, ownership and rights, and traditional customs and knowledge. There remained a degree of ambiguity of FD, community and co-management projects in field operations, which conflicted with the notions of cooperation, transparency, and accountability of the overall initiatives. Moreover, there is a strong local power structure that has major control over the community, locality and even over a local administration that is a crucial issue to the RKWS authority. However, REDD+ will open up the opportunity to manage the RKWS’s forest resources in a sustainable way, increase the level of protection, and expand the area protected, hence REDD+ must align with the interests of all stakeholders to fulfil its goal. Further research is necessary to inform the governance of REDD+ in Bangladesh to better understand the interplay, interactions and linkages between existing institutions, actors and policy processes.
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