Monitoring for REDD+: carbon stock change and multiple benefits

Author: Teobaldelli, M., Doswald, N., Dickson, B.
Date Published: October 2010

Forests provide a number of ecosystem services including biodiversity, which could be added multiple benefits to the climate change mitigation potential arising from implementing REDD+. However, there have also been concerns that harms to ecosystems could ensue from its implementation. Monitoring would be one way to support and promote benefits and avoid harms to the ecosystem. However, monitoring changes in carbon stocks for anthropogenic forest-related greenhouse gas emissions and removals estimation will impose considerable demands on REDD+ countries, and additional monitoring would increase the cost and burden on countries. This paper investigates the relationship and potential synergies between monitoring systems for carbon stock changes and multiple benefits from REDD+. Monitoring multiple benefits, such as biodiversity and ecosystem services, has usually been undertaken by selecting a set of indicators. A good framework of indicators provides more robust way to preserve benefits. However, identifying measurable indicators, setting baselines and determining the frequency of measurements for other benefits of REDD+ is challenging and these do not necessarily match those required for carbon.

Taking advantage of current biodiversity or environmental monitoring schemes would be beneficial not only for monitoring these aspects for REDD+ but also for monitoring carbon. Indeed some information collected for biodiversity monitoring purposes could be used to increase the accuracy of carbon monitoring. Moreover, the methods used and the data collected for carbon monitoring can be used to monitor some aspects of ecosystem services. For instance, remote sensing can provide information on different ecosystem indicators either directly or indirectly; whilst ground-based measurements provide opportunities to gather information pertinent to both carbon stocks and multiple benefits.

There are clear synergies and relationships between monitoring systems for carbon stock change and multiple benefits. However, gaps in current monitoring schemes exist and it may be necessary to collect extra information so as to get an adequate picture for the multiple benefits and harms from REDD+. Nevertheless, with careful planning and use of existing monitoring schemes and carbon monitoring data could provide a cost-effective solution.