Sumernet

Research on integrating community-based participatory carbon measurement and monitoring with satellite remote sensing and GIS in a measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) system for REDD+

The goal of this project is to research, develop and test methods to integrate community-based participatory carbon measurement and monitoring of above-ground biotic carbon with remote sensing, GIS and web-enabled reporting tools as a Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) Systems for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation – Plus (REDD+) and agroforestry carbon sequestration activities. The project will test the approach with local communities in project sites in Lao PDR, Vietnam and Thailand.  An “MRV Guidebook for Integrating Participatory Community Carbon Measurement and Monitoring with Satellite Remote Sensing and GIS” will be developed as an output from this project. The project aims to support the integration of community participation in future national level REDD+ and carbon sequestration projects implemented in each country.

Partnering institutions  

1.  Vietnam Forestry University (VFU), Hanoi, Vietnam;
2.  Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), Hanoi, Vietnam;
3.  Hue University, Hue, Vietnam;
4.  Faculty of Forestry (FoF), National University of Laos (NUOL), Vientiane Lao PDR; 5.  Mahasarakham University (MSU-Thai), Mahasarakham, Thailand;
6.  National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT), Bangkok, Thailand;
7.  Global Observatory for Ecosystem Services (GOES), Department of Forestry, Michigan State University (MSU-US), East Lansing, U.S.A.  

Countries covered   

1.  Vietnam : Na Muc Village, Van Minh Commune and Tu Dooc Village Lang San Commune, Na Ri District, Bac Kan Province
2.  Lao PDR : Ban Kouy, Ban Napor and Ban Vangma Villages, Sangthone District, Vientaine Prefecture
3.  Thailand:  "Kok Pakkud-Pongdang" (โคกผักกูด โป่งแดง). There is 5 Tambon (subdistrict) from 3 district surround this forest. That are Nong Ruea (หนองเรือ) and Khwao Rai(เขวาไร่) situated in Na Chueak District. The Tambon Non Daeng (โนนแดง) and Don Ngua (ดอนงัว) are in Borabue District and Tambon Na Kha (นาข่า) in Wapi Pathum District, Mahasarakham Province

Vision and mission    

Forests and trees in agroforestry systems play a critical role in mitigating climate change though the sequestration and storage of carbon in woody perennial biomass and soils. Unfortunately, deforestation and forest degradation account for approximately 18 percent of annual global carbon dioxide emissions (Angelsen et al. 2009), much of this in tropical forests where biomass per unit area is much higher than in temperate forests.  

Climate mitigation opportunities in biotic systems that actively sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide include afforestation/reforestation (A/R), agroforestry, natural and assisted-natural regeneration (e.g. abandoned fallow), and improved forest management practices (e.g. reduced impact logging and longer rotation periods). Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation or REDD also mitigates climate change by changing the amount of carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere from the existing forest carbon stocks. REDD-Plus (REDD+) twins emission reductions (from changing the rate of deforestation and forest degradation over time) with carbon sequestration activities that include social and ecological co-benefits (Anglesen et al. 2009).

Significant international efforts in biotic climate mitigation have been generated through the UNFCCC Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) A/R projects and REDD+ discussions, the World Bank BioCarbon Fund and Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCFP), the UN-REDD program, and most recently the Climate Investment Fund’s Forest Investment Program (CIF-FIP). Furthermore, one outcome of the most recent UNFCCC Conference of the Parties in Cancun, Mexico (COP 16 - 2010) was an increased commitment to fund REDD+ readiness and climate action activities.

Concern over the impacts on and role of local communities in REDD+ and carbon sequestration projects is being voiced. Governments are aware that consultation and inclusion of indigenous people and local communities is essential for sustainable land and forest management (Peskett et al. 2008, Tibtebba 2008).  Inclusion of local communities in REDD+ and carbon sequestration activities can potentially realise national conservation and developmental goals as well as climate mitigation.  Inclusion of local people and communities in REDD+ and carbon sequestration activities is also recognized by the UNFCCC parties as important criteria for success. Two important potential benefits for local people’s involvement in REDD+ include 1) an economic benefit from REDD+ payments and 2) land and resource tenure security. Carbon is becoming a commodity which can be managed and traded as a household and community income stream. The involvement in measurement and monitoring of forest carbon by local people can empower them as co-managers of areas under REDD+ projects.   

Implementing forest and agroforestry emission reduction and carbon sequestration projects must show that carbon mitigation is real and permanent and do so in a cost effective manner. Accurate measurement and monitoring of carbon stock changes in biomass must use robust, scientific methods. Reporting and verification procedures must follow accepted protocols. Combined, these form the elements of a measurement (sometime the “m” also refers to monitoring), reporting and verification, or MRV, system. The 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories Volume 4 Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) (IPCC 2006) and the preceding IPCC Good Practice Guidance for Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (GPG-LULUCF) (IPCC 2003) provide important basic methods for measuring biomass and carbon stock changes.   

The GOFC-GOLD REDD Sourcebook (GOFC-GOLD 2010) give guidance for implementing measurement and monitoring protocols for REDD projects, and include the use of remote sensing satellite data and GIS tools. To be most accurate, remote sensing tools and techniques for measuring and monitoring forest carbon should be integrated with ground based forest and biomass inventories. Where available, National Forest Inventory (NFI) data can be used. However, such data sets do always exist and may be incomplete for a specific project area. NFI data also does not involve community participation. An alternative or a possible supplement to existing NFI data is community-based carbon data collection.

The GOFC-GOLD REDD Sourcebook (GOFC-GOLD 2010) includes a chapter on “Community Forest Mapping” with reference to The “Kyoto: Think Global, Act Local” (KTGAL) research project who have developed “A Field Guide for Assessing and Monitoring Reduced Forest Degradation and Carbon Sequestration by Local Communities” (KTGAL 2009). This guide has been used successfully in community-based measuring and monitoring of forest carbon stocks in 36 Community Forest Management (CFM) sites in India, Nepal, Tanzania, Senegal, Mali, and Guinea Bissau (Skutch et al. 2009).

While there are basic protocols and guides for measuring biotic carbon stocks (GPG-LULUCF and AFOLU), for using satellite remote sensing and GIS tools and technologies for monitoring changes in forest cover and carbon (GOFC-GOLD Sourcebook), and for community-based measuring and monitoring of forest carbon stocks (KTGAL Field Guide), none of these integrate all for use in a Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system. Implementing an MRV system that combines community level participation in collecting and reporting ground based inventories of biomass with satellite remote sensing assessments and GIS tools can be an effective strategy for integrating data for large area measurement and monitoring of forest carbon in managed forests, natural community forests and agroforestry landscapes. While we can estimate with some degree of accuracy landscape carbon using remote sensing satellite data and GIS, integration of such assessments are greatly improved with ground data.  Establishing field plots over vast areas is simply unrealistic. However, the inclusion of data collected by local communities (in their own forest communities) provides a field-based sampling that can be used to validate and calibrate the remote sensing and GIS approach to large areas carbon measurement and monitoring reducing uncertainty in the carbon estimates. In addition, the inclusion and involvement of local people and communities as stakeholders in project activities can empower them. For example, their participation in defining forest use boundaries based in traditional, historic use, is one possible way to ensure project success where areas of protection forest, production forest and limited use forests are defined. Furthermore, their inclusion in managing (as well as measurement and monitoring) forest resources for carbon benefits must be compensated through REDD+ payments.

Our vision is to demonstrate the use of integrating participatory community carbon measurement and monitoring with satellite remote sensing and GIS for implementing an MRV system for emission reduction and carbon sequestration activities and provide a Guidebook to policy-makers in best practices for such an MRV system.  

The Guidebook will be established through research and analysis of local level projects in each of the three participating Mekong Region countries: Lao PDR, Vietnam and Thailand. The Guidebook will provide common elements to implementing best practices for integrating community-based carbon measuring and monitoring methods with satellite remote sensing and GIS tools. The Guidebook will also suggest methods for scaling up from local to sub-national, national, and regional scale MRV systems and discuss the potential limitations of scaling up. The Guidebook will be targeted to national level and sub-national level government agencies involved in REDD+ policies and project implementation.

We will also develop a set of materials for local communities. Rather than simply reproduce the Guidebook in Thai, Lao and Vietnamese languages and hoping local community leaders and people will read and use the Guidebook, we instead will develop posters and possibly video in the local languages that explain the key elements of the Guidebook.

This SUMERNET research project will leverage existing carbon pilot project work in each of the three countries. The research builds on an established small-holder carbon sequestration project in Northeast Thailand, a new activity on REDD+ in Bac Kan Province, Vietnam that has just started, and an activity in the Model Training Forest (MTF) of Faculty of Forestry, National University of Laos in Sangthone District, Vientiane Province. The previous work in these areas is described in detail in the Methodology section (2.5) of this proposal. The research under this SUMERNET project fills a gap in previous work which has previously focused on satellite remote sensing (REDD+ - Bac Kan, Vietnam), web-GIS tools (Agroforestry - NE Thailand), and carbon inventories (MTF – Laos).

References

Angelsen, Arild, Sandra Brown, Cyril Loisel and Leo Peskett, Charlotte Streck and Daniel Zarin. 2009. Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD): An Options Assessment Report (No location: Meridian Institute, 2009).

Angelsen A., Brockhaus M., Kanninen M., Sills E., Sunderlin W., Wertz-Kaunonnikoff S. Realizing REDD: National Strategy and Policy Options. 2009. Center for International Forestry, Bogor, Indonesia.

GOFC-GOLD. 2010. A sourcebook of methods and procedures for monitoring and reporting anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and removals caused by deforestation, gains and losses of carbon stocks in forests remaining forests, and forestation. GOFC-GOLD Report version COP16-1, GOFC-GOLD Project Office, Natural Resources Canada, Alberta, Canada.

IPCC. 2003. Good Practice Guidance for Land Use, Land-use Change and Forestry. Penman J, Gytarsky M, Hiraishi T, Krug T, Kruger D, Pipatti R, Buen-dia L, Miwa K, Ngara T, Tanabe T, and Wagner F (eds). IPCC National Greenhouse Gas Inventories Programme and Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) Hayama, Kanagawa, Japan.

IPCC. 2006. IPCC Guidelines for national greenhouse gas inventories. Eggleston, H.S., Buendia, L., Miwa, K., Ngara, T. and Tanabe, K. (eds.). IPCC National Greenhouse Gas Inventories Programme Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) Hayama, Kanagawa, Japan.

Kyoto: Think Global, Act Local (KTGAL). 2009. A Field Guide for Assessing and Monitoring Reduced Forest Degradation and Carbon Sequestration by Local Communities. J.J. Verplanke and E. Zahabu (eds.). University of Twente:The Netherlands, p.93.

Peskett, L., Huberman, D., Bowen-Jones, E., Edwards, G. and Brown, J. 2008. Making REDD work for the poor, Poverty and Environment Partnership (PEP) Policy Brief, ODI, London.

Skutsch, Margaret M., Michael K. McCall, Bhaskar Karky, E. Zahabu, and Graciela Peters-Guarin. 2009. Community Measurement of Carbon Stock Change for REDD. Case Studies on Measuring and Assessing Forest Degradation. Rome: FAO, Forest Resources Assessment Programme Working Paper 156.

Tebtebba. 2008. Summary report of the SE Asia Indigenous Peoples Regional Consultation on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), 9-11 November, 2008 United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies UNU-IAS and Tebtebba.

Boundary partners (Attached list of website addresses of partner institutions)    

Government
1.    National Level
   a. Vietnam: Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD)
   b. Lao PDR: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF),
   c. Thailand: National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT),
   d. Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organization (TGO).

2.    Provincial Level
   a. Vietnam: Forest Protection Department, Bac Kan Province
   b. Lao PDR: Provincial Agriculture and Forestry Office (PAFO)Vientiane Prefecture
   c. Thailand: Mahasarakham Provincial Administrator

3.    District Level
   a. Vietnam: Forest Protection Department Na Ri District, Kim Hy Forest Reserve Authorities
   b. Lao PDR: District Agriculture and Forestry Office (DAFO) Sangthong District
   c. Thailand: District Administration

Other Boundary Partners
1.    ICRAF-Vietnam
2.    Vietnam Forestry University
3.    Hue University, Vietnam
4.    Thai Nguyen University, Thai Nguyen Province, Vietnam
5.    Faculty  of Forestry, National University of Laos
6.    Mahasarakham University, Thailand
7.    Global Observatory for Ecosystem Service, Department of Forestry, Michigan State University

Project’s objectives   

The purpose of this research project is to understand and document the methods required for integrating community-based carbon measurement and monitoring with satellite remote sensing and GIS for implementing an MRV system.  An MRV system for forest carbon emission reduction or carbon sequestration project is required for project developers, stakeholders and project participants (including local people), policy-makers, and project funders (including potential buyers of carbon through emerging Greenhouse Gas Financial Markets).

The goals of the project are to (1) demonstrate and document the potential opportunity to realize community-based participation in carbon management activities being called for under forest carbon emission reduction and sequestration activities, (2) to link community-based carbon measurement and monitoring with remote sensing and GIS tools for an MRV system, and (3) to support policy-maker initiatives at national and local levels in implementing sustainable forest and land management through forest carbon management efforts.

The objectives of the project include the use of existing guides (GOFC-GOLD Sourcebook and KTGAL Community-based Measuring and Monitoring of Forest Carbon Stocks Field Guide) in an integrated manner to implement an MRV system, the development of an “MRV Guidebook for Integrating Participatory Community Carbon Measurement and Monitoring with Satellite Remote Sensing and GIS”, to build participation in community-based carbon management through existing on-going SFM/SLM activities and in partnership with local agencies (e.g. Forest Protection Department in Vietnam and DAFO in Lao PDR).

Methodology    

Site descriptions. The research activity is targeted to local communities in three project sites, one in each of the three participating Mekong Region countries. These communities are:

1.    Lao PDR: Ban Kouy, Ban Napor and Ban Vangma Villages, Sangthong District, Vientiane Prefecture. This area is located approximately 80 kilometers northeast of the capital city of Vientiane. The villages are located in and around the National University of Laos, Faculty of Forestry, Model Training Forest (TMF) which covers an area of 4,600 hectares. Land tenure and resource rights are established under the Land Use Planning and Land Allocation programs of the Lao Government which began in the 1990s. These two programs are designed to transfer rights and responsibilities over land and forest resources use and management to villages and local communities.

2.    Thailand: An extension of the Inpang Community Network, which includes more than 4000 families in five provinces in Northeast Thailand. The project site is in Mahasarakham Province. The community is near a large forest area (3,005.92 hactare or 7,514.8 acre) under heavy pressure. The villagers from 5 sub-districts in 3 districts can access to this forest. Villagers agree to plant trees on their own property to reduce pressure on the natural forest.

3.    Vietnam: Na Muc village, Van Minh Commune and Tu Dooc village Lang San Commune, Na Ri District, Bac Kan Province. These villages are located close to Kim Hy Forest Reserve; an 18,555 ha protected area established in 1997. Tu Dooc village is in the Reserves’ official buffer zone. Both communities have “Red Book” documentation (tenure rights) for managing community forests:  Na Muc village – 118.3 ha and Tu Dooc Village – 45.1 ha. The area is located about 200 kilometers north of Hanoi.

SUMERNET focused activity (leveraging on existing work and gap-filling). Our proposed SUMERNET project extends our current activities and fills an important and necessary gap in our longer-term efforts regarding linking communities and small-holders to carbon mitigation opportunities for sustainable forest and land management (See figure 1).  While we have made strides in working with small-holders in Thailand with a teak carbon project we have not integrated a community-based participatory approach to family, farm-level, or community measurement and monitoring of biotic carbon. The teak project used staff from NRCT, MSU-Thai and a few hired workers from the Inpang Community network to establish permanent biomass plots in each farmers teak area. We do have funds to complete the satellite remote sensing assessments of forest cover changes in the three projects sites proposed for this research activity.  Where we have a significant gap is in working more closely with communities and local people to implement a truly participatory approach to the field based biomass measurements; one that we can then link explicitly to the satellite remote sensing data and GIS. In the absence of field-based data, calculations use only IPCC Tier I biomass estimates based on coarse biome classes which are rightly criticized as oversimplified, include large errors and are inadequate for accurately measuring and monitoring carbon stock changes at the landscape level. The SUMERNET research fills the gap that links participatory community carbon measurement and monitoring with the remote sensing and GIS tools which, when integrated, underpin a robust MRV system.

At each project site we will develop a sampling scheme with local communities to establish biomass measurement plots. Data collected within the plots will include GPS location, tree species, dbh, height, and crown dimensions. Plot size will be determined on species composition, but a minimum of 20 x 25 meters. The number of sample plots will be statistically determined based on the size of the area and the stratification of landscape. These data will be used to scale-up biomass/carbon estimates derived from ASTER VNIR (15-meter resolution) and Landsat TM and ETM+ (30-meter resolution) analyses.

Partnership with local officials. We will partner with local officials in all three project sites at the start of the research activity. In Vietnam, this will include District and Provincial level Forest Protection Department personnel, as well as Kim Hy Forest Reserve administration staff. In Lao PDR this will include DAFO and PAFO staff. In Thailand we will include TGO officials and district level administration authorities. Initial meetings to discuss the project vision, mission and objectives with these officials, will provide an opportunity for input to the approach of integrating the community level participatory training with existing SFM and SLM activities in each area. We will review and discuss the KTGAL Field Guide with local officials seeking advice for any modifications to the approach they deem worthy and justified. Local official will be invited to play key roles as leads in working with the community-based training activities.

Participatory community-based training in carbon measurement and monitory (including the linkage between field-based measurements at satellite remote sensing and GIS tools). The main focus of the work in this research project will be on the participatory community-based training in carbon measurement and monitoring. We will use the KTGAL Field Guide as the starting point for training and capacity-building in collaboration with local officials. We will initiate the process with a participatory SWOT analysis involving communities. The focus of the participatory SWOT sessions will be on SFM/SLM and livelihoods as segue into the role of ecosystem services (e.g. climate mitigation through carbon sequestration and emission reductions) and payments for sustaining ecosystem service under forest carbon/climate mitigation opportunities. We will conduct key informant interviews with a cross section of community leaders and land-owners (male/female and different age groups respondents) prior to and following the SWOT sessions and participatory community-based training in carbon measurement and monitoring training. A minimum of 45 key informant interviews at each project site is expected. These questionnaires will be developed and pre-tested in the first three months of the project. Questions will be developed along four (4) broad thematic areas related to the project: 1) ecosystem services and health, 2) climate change: why it is happening, why it is considered a threat to human well-being, what are the possible solutions, 3) REDD+, 4) Measuring forest carbon. Interviews will be conducted in the local language for each project area. Both quantitative and qualitative data will be included in the study.  The design of the questionnaires survey instruments will be an outcome of the projects initial coordination meeting expected to take place in the first month of the project.

Following the pre-survey, training in measurement and monitoring of forest carbon will be conducted. We will use as a basis for the training the KTGAL field guide modified as needed based on recommendations by counterparts (local officials etc.) in each country. We will then recruit participants in establishing field plots and data collection. The process of recruiting participants will be done through discussions with community leaders. A description of the process, how people are recruited, why they participate and what benefits are gained (or perceived gained) will be documented for each field site. Following the training and data collection we will administer a post-activity survey.

The pre- and post-survey results will be used to measure of the effectiveness of our project in capacity-building and building “ownership” among community members in participatory community-based training in carbon measurement and monitoring.

Engagement with policy-makers. We will engage policy-makers through all phases of the project. In Vietnam this will be MARD; Thailand – TGO, and Lao PDR – MAF.  We will request meetings at the start of the project activity to discuss the planned research, our goals, and expected outcomes and outputs. At mid-point in the project will provide a status report to these institutions and request feedback. Finally, upon completion we will meet again with these agencies to showcase the results of the study and discuss policy implications from the research.

Cross-national capacity-building. The inclusion of three Mekong Region country teams and a team from the US gives us an opportunity for strengthening our regional network and building capacity across borders. We will include team members from all countries to participate in the community SWOT and trainings for each project site in the three Mekong Region countries. There are institutional, geographic, and community differences between the three project sites that offer unique learning opportunities for all team participants and we well take full advantage of this.

Results dissemination. Results from the research project will be presented in meetings with the communities, local government agency administrations, and national level policy-makers. We will seek participation in delivering the project research results from community participants and local officials as a way of reinforcing capacity-building and adoption of the project goals. We will also report results through traditional academic venues (symposia, meetings, academic journals) as well as providing access to data and results from a project webpage via the Internet.

Expected outputs   

The research project includes three key outputs, described below:

  1. An MRV Guidebook: We will publish an “MRV Guidebook for Integrating Participatory Community Carbon Measurement and Monitoring with Satellite Remote Sensing and GIS” based on the results of the research in the three pilot areas.
  2. Scientific research publication(s): We will submit two papers for peer review publication from the research project. We envision one as a comparative paper on the three case study areas and a second paper on the integrating participatory community-based carbon measurement and monitoring with satellite remote sensing and GIS for MRV systems.
  3. Chapter in SUMERNET Project Book regarding our project research and results.

Communication materials   

  1. MRV Guidebook for Integrating Participatory Community Carbon Measurement and Monitoring with Satellite Remote Sensing and GIS
  2. Posters in Thai, Vietnamese and Lao languages highlighting key elements of the MRV Guidebook
  3. PowerPoint Presentations describing the project used to engage local government officials and communities
  4. Web-site portal to demonstration project data and information through GOES/Carbon2Markets.

Planned project events (List tentative dates, venues for key events; Concept note or agenda if available)  

Aug/Sept. 2011 – Meeting with relevant local government (agency) officials in each project site in each country
Sept. 26 – 29, 2011 – Fieldwork, Key Informant Interviews, and Project Coordination Meeting:  Mahasarakham, Thailand.
Nov. 2011 – Key Informant Interviews: Laos and Vietnam project sites
Dec. 2011/Jan. 2012 – SWOT, Participatory Training, Field Data Collection: Laos, Thailand and Vietnam project sites
June/July 2012 – One day meetings in each project site to disseminate the research results and seek feedback from local participants: Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.
August 2012 – Two-day International Workshop: Hanoi, Vietnam