Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) to address climate change has historically included little evaluation of how heterogeneous local communities respond to REDD+ interventions and new land-use activities. We assessed differences in the acceptance of new land-use activities as a function of livelihoods of the Hmong and Khmu ethnic groups in northern Lao People’s Democratic Republic, where REDD+ was implemented between 2011 and 2018. Our socioeconomic data, collected by a questionnaire-based survey and focal group discussions, showed that the Hmong more effectively incorporated support from REDD+ than the Khmu because the Hmong owned grazing land. Our findings highlight the importance of understanding the capabilities and characteristics of each ethnic group when implementing new land-use activities (i.e., designing and implementing alternative livelihoods) within a target area to ensure distributional equity in heterogeneous communities. Such a consideration should be included in land-use policy and also be a part of the social safeguards in the land-use sector.
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