Local participation has been found to have important implications for aspects of REDD+, such as monitoring activities. National systems should be built, at least partly, on community-based monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) protocols that maximise local people’s involvement in forest monitoring and the assessment of social impacts. There is of course great potential for technological and organisational innovation when a diverse group of local and international for-profit and not-for-profit actors come together to design and implement a project.
Our research lays out four crucial conditions under which to involve communities in MRV.
- Relevance to the local people in the community: Put simply, if something about the project is not seen as relevant to their daily lives, local people might not be willing to commit to such a project. Just because a rural community in the country lives near a forest does not mean they have strong links to that forest or have the intention to protect it.
- Skills: Measuring and reporting carbon data require technical capacity and literacy. Beyond formal education, this also includes traditional ecological knowledge (which is learned within a community), and the skills required to use technology for reporting (skills that can be obtained through training). Also, is it always clear to local people what it is they are measuring?
- Reporting systems: Instead of re-inventing the wheel, we look at what exists already. We try to compare and learn from existing reporting systems to develop a robust participatory reporting system and to learn how information can flow from local to sub-national/national levels.
- Quality validation: The data sets that have been collected must be accurate. Local people could assist to validate and assess the reported data, which should represent the field reality.
It is important to remember that MRV is not just about measuring carbon. It is also to help explain why conditions are changing related to different land uses. This is why on-the-ground trust-building is so important.