Overview of Forest Monitoring and Measurement Systems

Since the Cancun agreements in 2010 (1 / CP 16), countries that wish to participate in mechanisms to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation know that they must have a national forest monitoring system and a baseline of emissions forestry (NREF) or a forest reference level (NRF). Although the UNFCCC has not established the difference between the two, it is generally understood that the NREF only includes activities that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and the NRFs include both activities that reduce emissions and activities that capture carbon.

Mexico, as a country interested in implementing a REDD + mechanism at the national level has prepared its Strategy, which includes the components of Reference Level and Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification, which have experienced a great advance thanks to the funding received from the Government of Norway through the project "Strengthening REDD + and South-South Cooperation".

Chiapas is one of the participating states in the Emissions Reduction Initiative (IRE), for which the State Government signed with CONAFOR the Coordination Agreement for the IRE, according to which CONAFOR commits itself, in relation to the monitoring of emissions and reference level, to deliver to the state the state inputs, databases, and cartography generated for the reference level. The INFyS, the IEFyS and the information may be useful for decision-making in the state, although it does not establish dates or deadlines to make such deliveries. In addition, CONAFOR will generate information that allows the evaluation of the results of the actions undertaken within the framework of the IRE through the SNMF and will support, to the extent of its possibilities, the development of capacities in the state regarding MRV. The state, for its part, undertakes to report the reduced emissions in its jurisdiction within the framework of the IRE.

It should also be noted that the ENAREDD + talks about the implementation of an MRV system nested between the national, state, and local scales, which promotes local and community participation, contemplating lines of action for capacity building, and the development of institutional arrangements for its implementation at multiple scales in a consistent and integrated manner. So far, Mexico's main effort in relation to MRV for REDD + has focused on the development of capacities and products on a national scale, although some experiences have also been developed at the state and local levels.

At the state level, Chiapas has a GT-MRV created in 2014 as a space for social participation, where state and federal government agencies meet with academics and civil society organizations, under the coordination of the Ministry of Environment and Natural History (SEMAHN; Line and Fong, 2016a). This group was formally constituted through a memorandum of understanding in March 2016. Of the19 technical signatories, 9 are women and 10 men, which is indicative of the high level of involvement of women in the subject of the MRV at the state level.

The GT-MRV has been established as a key element for MRV at the state level, highlighting the importance and potential of considering local information in a national monitoring system nested to the national system. It has generated important information to improve the estimates of the factors of emission and activity data related to deforestation and forest degradation at the sub-national level and has created a space for dialogue between the states and the SNMF. This is making it possible to advance the definition of the roles of the different instances and scales of action. As part of the implementation of this Strategy, it is proposed to change the name of the GT-MRV to the State MRV Group (GE-MRV), to avoid confusion with the Working Groups (GT) of the CCICCCH and the CCCCCH.

The activities with potential to reduce emissions from the AFOLU sector in the state of Chiapas have been organized into sectors (forestry, agriculture, and livestock) and, within the forestry sector, three blocks have been differentiated which establish their priority for monitoring in the state:

  • Block I: Deforestation, forest degradation and fire degradation;
  • Block II: Reforestation and restoration; and
  • Block III: Forest management, increase of forest carbon reserves.

The priority activities for monitoring are those of Block I of the forestry sector, which are those considered by the SNMF and have the most associated information.The monitoring of these activities implies, therefore, the alignment with the methodologies and inputs used by the SNMF. Although, on the other hand, the opinions of external experts on these issues will be taken into account.

The state vision for REDD + attaches great importance to the role of biodiversity and ecosystem services, so the state system will include parameters and related variables, as well as others associated with productive activities, trying to disaggregate information by gender, ethnicity, and age when possible.

The information necessary to build the state monitoring system will therefore come from different institutions, agencies and systems, which implies the need to formalize an institutional structure that includes all the key actors for this issue and allows the adequate flow of information. The IRE Convention between CONAFOR and the state government is an example of the kind of instruments that can be used to advance this issue. The system will also consider a phased approach to include data at the selected scales, as they become available.

Another important challenge for the state is having the necessary capabilities and infrastructure for the design and operation of the system. The members of the state WG-MRV have received training on the methodologies used by the SNMF, although the capacities created have focused on the monitoring of deforestation and forest degradation, and training processes must be designed that incorporate all the mitigation activities of the AFOLU sector of interest for the EEREDD +. Likewise, it is important to promote a basic understanding of this component among decision makers and key state actors.

In relation to the local scale, it is also considered necessary to strengthen the capacities of municipal technicians and community brigades, in order to encourage their active participation in the state and national monitoring system and to promote a "bottom-up" construction in monitoring of the forests. In the state there are already experiences of training of community brigades and monitoring of carbon stores in forest systems (Line et al., 2016) and land uses. The information generated by the trained brigades can be very useful to fill gaps in information, generate knowledge about sustainable productive activities and improve the identification of local species, among others (Line et al., 2016), as well as generate carbon inventories from all land uses at the local level (Rojas et al., 2014).

The participation of women in these exercises of training and data collection in the community level has been favored, however, on occasions, traditional gender roles have prevented a greater involvement of women in these activities.

The institutional structure and capacity building will allow the adequate operation of the state monitoring system, which will be aligned with the national system and will have the capacity to incorporate information on other mitigation activities in the AFOLU sector. The GE-MRV, as part of the system, will identify the information generation needs and define the necessary data collection and processing protocols. The system will operate through a virtual platform which will be compatible with other platforms and systems, will incorporate multilevel information and will be freely accessible, giving transparency to the mechanism, generating trust to the financiers and facilitating the verification processes.

Total Forest Carbon
232 M MtC
Reference Levels and Targets
Deforestation Reference Rate
487 km²/yr 2016 - 2020
Potential Annual CO₂ Avoided
Rio Branco Declaration Deforestation Reduction Goal [1]
97 km²/yr 2020
Deforestation Dynamics Monitoring
Deforestation Rates [2]
Rio Branco Declaration based on National FREL