REDD+ (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and the enhancement of carbon stocks) emerges as promising incentive mechanism for tropical forest protection. However, besides a few demonstration projects, requirements for its successful implementation are so far only discussed theoretically at the international policy level. While REDD+ is expected to yield poverty reduction and biodiversity co-benefits besides emission reductions, its policy design options pose several risks to socio-economic effectiveness and environmental integrity. We use an expert survey – ranging from international policy makers to local REDD+ project stakeholders - to rank the perceived significance and likelihood of these risks for national REDD implementation. Additionally, the survey asks for the perceived effectiveness of different policy design options to minimize the risks. A cluster analysis of the survey results assesses the perceived policy design options to achieve socio-economic effectiveness and environmental integrity according to regional, topical or stakeholder groupings. The results shed light on the most importantly perceived risks to national REDD+ implementation. They furthermore display the disparity in the perception of appropriate policy measures for risk mitigation among stakeholder groups. Understanding these differences will not only help to improve national forest protection measures, but also provide insights for the international REDD+ policy process in a Post-2012 climate regime.