This study examined the combined impacts of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) activities in Houaykhing village cluster (ca. 31,000 ha) in northern Lao People’s Democratic Republic in 2011–2018. We quantitatively evaluated the effectiveness of REDD+ activities in this area by comparing the estimated reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for Houaykhing village cluster with those of neighboring village clusters. We also assessed the positive and negative impacts of REDD+ activities, recently introduced livelihood improvement policies (e.g. promotion of livestock raising as alternative livelihoods) and social factors (e.g. satisfaction with daily life and frequency of group activity among villagers) on households belonging to the two main ethnic groups, the Khmu and the Hmong. This study showed that although REDD+ activities had a positive impact on GHG emissions, differences in uptake of livestock raising and grazing land expansion between the Khmu and the Hmong led to a growing income gap between the two groups and to increased differences in satisfaction with daily and village life. These results highlight the need to ensure contextual and procedural equity and emphasize the importance of considering both natural and human resources when planning and implementing REDD+ activities, especially when targeting small rural areas that are home to multiple ethnic groups.
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