Monitoring and Reporting

International Law (UNFCCC)

REDD+ under the UNFCCC

Countries are requested to identify drivers of deforestation and forest degradation resulting in emissions and the means to address these; to identify activities that result in reduced emissions and increased removals and stabilization of carbon stocks; and to establish robust and transparent national forest monitoring systems (or subnational monitoring systems as an interim measure). Such monitoring systems should use both remote sensing and ground-based approaches for estimating emissions and removals, forest carbon stocks and forest area changes; provide transparent, consistent, and accurate estimates; be transparent and their results available and suitable for measuring, reporting and verifying emissions and removals; build upon existing systems; enable the assessment of different types of forest, including natural forests (as defined by the country); be flexible and allow for improvement; reflect the phased-approach; and may provide relevant information for national safeguard information systems

In addition, developing countries should provide data and information used to estimate forest-related emissions and removals through a technical annex to biennial update reports to the UNFCCC. This is particularly true if a developing country is seeking to obtain and receive payments for results-based actions.

Kyoto Protocol Land use, Land-use Change and Forestry

Annex I Parties to the Kyoto Protocol are required to submit National Communications, annual National Inventory Reports and Supplementary information under the Kyoto Protocol, and more recently detailed information on the construction of forest management reference levels.  All reports are made publicly available on the UNFCCC website.  In-depth reviews and technical assessments are made of such reports by international expert review teams, and also posted publicly on the UNFCCC website.

Joint Implementation (JI) Kyoto Protocol

Projects must provide, as part of the project design document, a monitoring plan that meets specific requirements, such as the collection and archiving of all relevant data, information on environmental impacts, and quality assurance and control procedures.

Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)

Monitoring is defined in the CDM Glossary of Terms as “collecting and archiving all relevant data necessary for determining the baseline, measuring anthropogenic emissions by sources of GHGs within the project boundary, and leakage, as applicable”. Projects are required to implement a monitoring plan that sets out the methodology to be used by project participants for the monitoring of the amount of reductions or removals achieved. The Monitoring Plan includes a proposed monitoring frequency and quality control/quality assurance procedures for data monitored. The results of any monitoring activities are reported in a Monitoring Report and verified by a Designated Operational Entity (an accredited third party organisation responsible for validation and verification of projects), which periodically verifies the emission reductions once every five years.

Social and Environmental Standards

REDD+ Social and Environmental Standards (REDD+ SES)

The assessment requires the development of a monitoring plan that defines what specific information is required, methods and responsibilities for information collection, and an assessment plan defining the process for preparation, review, approval and dissemination of the assessment report.  The report is reviewed by stakeholders, approved by a country-level multi-stakeholder committee and made publicly available. 


The project must be periodically monitored, and each monitoring period must present a new SocialCarbon Report that includes an update on all indicators. Monitoring should be in accordance with the monitoring periods of the carbon accounting standard being used.

Climate, Community, & Biodiversity (CCB) Standards

The project must have measurement and monitoring plans to quantify and document changes resulting from project activities in: (a) social and economic well-being (indicating which communities, community groups, and other stakeholders will be monitored), (b) project-related carbon pools, project emissions, and non-CO2 GHG emissions if appropriate,  (c) biodiversity, and (d) impacts on High Conservation Values identified in the project area. For all cases, the types of measurements, sampling methods and frequency of measurements must be identified.

The monitoring plan identifies the frequency of monitoring and reporting. The results of such monitoring systems must be made publicly available on the internet and communicated to the communities and other stakeholders.

Donor Financed Initiatives

Germany's REDD+ Early Movers Programme

The design of a monitoring system is the responsibility of the applicant country or jurisdiction. Through REM's eligibility criteria, the applicant has to justify its approach which is then analysed in dialogue with REM and checked according to best practice criteria. 

Forest Carbon Partnership Facility’s Carbon Fund

The ER program monitors emissions by sources and removals by sinks included in the ER Program’s scope using the same methods or demonstrably equivalent methods to those used to set the reference level. Activity data are determined at least twice during the Term of the ERPA; deforestation is determined using IPCC approach 3 (i.e. spatially explicit data) while other sources and sinks may be determined using indirect methods such as survey data, proxies, or statistical data. Emission factors must use IPCC Tier 2 or higher methods (Tier 1 may be considered in exceptional cases), and uncertainties must be documented. 

Consistency is expected with the national forest monitoring system, and community participation in monitoring and reporting is encouraged. Information on the implementation of Safeguard Plans and Benefit Sharing Plans, and the generation and/or enhancement of priority non-carbon benefits, are included in annexes to each monitoring report and is made publicly available.

Developing Country Programmes

Guyana | The Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund and Norway Partnership

The Joint Concept Note between Guyana and Norway recognized a Roadmap that would establish a Guyana Monitoring Reporting and Verification System (MRVS). According to the most recent (2012) MRVS Interim Measures Report, the objective is to “establish a comprehensive, national system to monitor, report and verify forest carbon emissions resulting from deforestation and forest degradation”. MRVS reports are made public and include progress on development of the MRVS system, forest and land cover datasets, monitoring and spatial datasets, image processing, forest change and GIS-based forest change mapping, degradation methodologies under development, interim measures related to MRV, verification measure (including accuracy assessment) and Quality Assurance / Quality Control processes.

Brazil | The Amazon Fund

Monitoring is completed through a combination of activities by SFB/MMA (Brazilian Forest Service) and INPE (Brazilian National Institute of Space Research), through its Brazilian Amazon Forest Monitoring Program (PRODES). Data collected by INPE on deforestation rates in the Brazilian Amazon is made freely available alongside maps and other relevant information deforestation through their website. The Ministry of Environment is responsible for preparing an annual “technical note” defining reduced emissions based on the data produced by the National Institute for Spatial Research and to determine the limits for raising new funds based on these results. 

Voluntary Carbon Standards

Verified Carbon Standard

A monitoring plan and reporting framework are included in each approved methodology.  Such plans can vary in both intervals required for monitoring and the parameters monitored. For example, some methodologies require annual monitoring of some parameters, while others only require monitoring every 10 years. Most include description of procedures used to estimate GHG emissions and removals, spatial data, plot data, allometric equations used, sampling procedure (if applicable), quality assurance and control measures, etc. Projects must complete a VCS Monitoring Report to undergo verification and request issuance of Verified Carbon Units (VCUs).

Verified Carbon Standard | Jurisdictional and Nested REDD+ (VCS JNR)

A jurisdictional proponent must submit a VCS JNR Monitoring Report for verification at least every 5 years. Nested subnational jurisdictions and projects may monitor and report at different intervals than the higher-level jurisdiction, but must also monitor and synchronize their reporting with the higher-level jurisdiction at least every 5 years. At validation, the jurisdictional proponent must select which level (lower or higher) will consistently be used for reconciling any discrepancies between lower and higher level monitoring results.

Climate Action Reserve: Mexico Forest Protocol

The protocol defines monitoring and reporting requirements. Monitoring activities consist primarily of updating a project’s forest carbon inventory and analysing the inventory for compliance with environmental safeguards and policies on reversals. The inventory must be reported annually, using a custom and standardised data management tool developed by the Climate Action Reserve.  The tool provides a user-friend template for data entry, has embedded analytics which facilitates project monitoring, reporting, and verification.  Projects are issued credits based on data from annual monitoring reports and only require verification if inventory reports exceed tolerance thresholds for normal annual forest change.  Site verification is required at the project initiation and at regular 5-year intervals.

The Gold Standard Land Use and Forests Framework

The Gold Standard’s approach to Monitoring and Reporting is quite detailed. Project owners are required to report on carbon as well as social, environmental and economic outcomes that can be measured and verified against the requirements of the Standard. These are reported on annually in the ‘Sustainability Monitoring Plan’. Additionally, project developers are required to report on all project activities, compliance and any feedback or grievances in the ‘Annual Report’ which is to be submitted on an annual basis after the initial certification has been completed. Monitoring certifications should occur at least every five years.

Plan Vivo Standard

The Plan Vivo standard requires projects to be able to demonstrate positive livelihood and socioeconomic impacts and to show that generated ecosystem services are real and additional. In order to measure and demonstrate impacts against the baseline scenario, projects are required to develop a monitoring plan for measuring and monitoring socio-economic and ecosystem services impacts. In order to do so ecosystem service benefits will need to be quantified and a socioeconomic baseline scenario will need to have been defined.

The monitoring plan must be developed in a participatory manner and should include details on (a) performance indicators and targets and how they demonstrate if ecosystem services are being delivered, (b) advances against the socio-economic baseline scenario, (c) how communities will participate in monitoring and how results of the monitoring will be shared and discussed with participant communities. Potential impacts or ‘knock on effects’ on communities living in surrounding areas should also be taken into consideration. For projects that generate Plan Vivo Certificates for climate services (carbon credits), monitoring results should be included in the annual report submitted each year to the Plan Vivo Foundation.

Developed Country Programmes

California | U.S. Forestry Offset Projects (AB 32)

The Regulations define monitoring and reporting requirements, and the protocol further elaborates on requirements, based on the project type. Monitoring activities consist primarily of updating a project’s forest carbon inventory. ARB requires a complete inventory of carbon stocks to be reported each year. This complete inventory must be maintained and updated throughout the project life. Annual monitoring reports may be used as the basis for desk review verifications. However, verifiers must conduct site visits and more in-depth reviews of project data at least every six years. Monitoring is required for a period of 100 years following the final issuance of any ARB or registry offset credits to an offset project to guarantee permanence requirements.

Australian Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI)

Monitoring and reporting of emissions reductions or carbon sequestration is defined by the applicable methodology. CFI project proponents can choose when to submit a project report and receive carbon credits, although project reports must be submitted at least once every five years and not within 12 months of a previous report. A report must also be submitted at the end of the crediting period. Sequestration projects must be monitored for reversals throughout the 100 year permanence obligation period.