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REDD – who will monitor it, and how much will it cost?

REDD - who will monitor it, and how much will it cost?

One of the many unresolved issues concerning REDD is how will it be monitored? As Global Witness, one of the pioneers of independent forest monitoring says, “A robust monitoring, reporting and verification system will be key to the success of the scheme for REDD.” 

Many of the proposals for how to operate REDD seem to assume that monitoring is a relatively straighforward technical issue to solve – given enough satellite images and radar data. But the reality is likely to be much more complicated than simply obtaining pictures of where trees are standing or not. The consensus is increasingly that better forest governance is going to be critical to effective REDD mechanisms, and as Global Witness also points out, “An essential part of REDD will be monitoring forest governance on the ground.”

Global Witness has now published a short briefing on REDD and Independent Forest Monitoring, which is available here.

GW points out that “Independent Forest Monitoring (IFM) programmes have already been implemented in four countries. By monitoring and reporting system failures throughout the entire forest estate, IFM has succeeded in improving forest sector governance. It has a proven track record of reducing illegal activity in the forest sector, combating corruption, and improving transparency and accountability within both industry and government. This paper outlines the concept and minimum standards for IFM, demonstrates how it can be readily transferred to all aspects of forest management and argues that such monitoring – and related improvements in forest sector governance – are essential pre-requisites if REDD is to have any chance of success. ”

As yet, no-one has conducted any serious assessments as to how much proper forest (governance) monitoring is going to cost, nor how long it will take to set up and make work effectively. We believe the negotiators in Poznan need to take this possibly high ‘transaction cost’ into account when discussing REDD mechanisms; it is likely to be an important factor in determining how competitive REDD is in comparison to other pollution abatement schemes, and also how ‘verifiable’ it ultimately will be.

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