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Development of integrated MRV systems for REDD+ in the SADC region

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Jan 8, 2013
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Title: Development of integrated MRV systems for REDD+ in the SADC region
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conversation and Nuclear Safety
Country: Southern African Development Community (SADC): Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe
Lead executing agency: SADC Secretariat
Overall term: 2011 to 2015

Approximately 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions result from deforestation and forest degradation. To counteract this, the concept of ‘Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+)’ was introduced as part of the Bali Action Plan, and is now being developed further in the context of international climate negotiations.

The SADC region contains almost 375 million hectares of forest. Between 2005 and 2012, the forest cover declined by up to 0.46% per annum due to agricultural expansion and energy production. It is estimated that half of Africa’s biomass carbon losses derive from deforestation in the SADC region. In response to this, in 2011 a SADC support programme on REDD+ was developed.

However, all countries must fulfil a number of requirements before they can participate in a future REDD+ mechanism. This includes the development of monitoring systems – so called MRV systems – to measure, report and verify changes in forest cover and related carbon emissions. Currently, most of the SADC countries have only limited resources for maintaining such a system.


  • REDD+ MRV systems that comply with the guidelines of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have been installed in three test areas.
  • According to each country’s needs, a capacity development strategy for REDD+ MRV in the SADC countries has been developed.
  • A regional knowledge management system for REDD+ MRV has been developed as well as a set of regional standards.


Three pilot areas have been defined involving four countries, with one area spanning a border. REDD+ MRV systems are being set up for these pilot areas. Information on changes in the forest cover over the last few years is to be gathered by assessing remote sensing data. Forest inventories will be maintained to determine the current density in forest cover and the composition of species. This information will allow experts to determine the amount of carbon stored in the forest areas. After the survey of the first pilot site is completed, an independent auditor will assess whether the guidelines of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for REDD+ MRV systems are met.

The project promotes the development of REDD+ MRV competences in the SADC region, and encourages regional cooperation and exchange between the SADC member states. As such, it contributes to the implementation of the regional SADC REDD Programme 2012-2015.

Particular emphasis is placed by the project on the use of open source applications, for instance in the field of geographic information systems. This will allow the monitoring systems to be used transparently and cost-effectively in the future.

Results achieved so far

Using approved criteria, the four pilot countries have been chosen, each having a different ecosystem representative of the SADC region. Botswana is developing a test site for Baikea woodland and Mozambique a site for Mopane forest; Malawi and Zambia meanwhile are establishing a cross-border pilot site for Miombo woodland.

Technical working groups have been planned to focus on specific topics. The key areas are:

  • Exchanges of experience and knowledge between pilot and non-pilot countries, and within the region
  • Development of harmonised/standardised methods of carbon measurement
  • Capacity building in the field of REDD+ MRV for both pilot and non-pilot countries


Further information


Extpub | by Dr. Radut