Research initiatives

Climate Change Monitoring in Developing Countries
Monitoring Matters: Comparative Analysis of Innovative Approaches
Locally based Monitoring and Indigenous People in the Arctic
The 2004 Symposium ‘Monitoring Matters’

Climate Change Monitoring in Developing Countries

Deforestation continues at an alarming rate. It results in release of greenhouse gases originally stored in the trees and in other organic matter.

Reducing and preventing deforestation is the mitigation option with the largest and most immediate carbon stock impact in the short term per hectare and per year globally Most forest-clearing and forest degradation occurs in developing countries.

The post-Kyoto international climate regime will mandate forest conservation payments. Greenhouse gas emission reduction from forest conservation has much lower cost than reducing emissions from fossil fuels. Carbon traders and donor agencies demand accountability, transparency and quantifiable achievements in return for their support. In order to ensure the support of the people living in the forested areas, transparency, participatory decision-making and benefit sharing are necessary. No common methodology is in place to estimate and verify carbon emission reduction benefits in initiatives to reduce forest degradation and improve land and resource management.

Locally based monitoring may serve to ground-truth data from remote sensing, reduce uncertainty and add governance aspects yet it does not seem to be fully included in the development of carbon emission reduction activities in developing countries. Details on why locally based monitoring may be useful to monitor reductions in emissions from forest degradation are available. Download the leaflet:



Three factors make locally based monitoring techniques particularly relevant:

  1. They can promote accountability of carbon emission reduction efforts.
  2. They appear effective in incorporating evidence-based assessments in decision-making at the local level, and thus have considerable potential to influence on-the-ground management activities in favour of sustainable forest management.
  3. They can generate ownership to carbon emission reduction efforts, and they can encourage equitable benefit-sharing at local levels and contribute to build social capital.

Impacts of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and Enhancing Carbon Stocks

A research project, ‘Impacts of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and Enhancing Carbon Stocks’, abbreviated I-REDD+ (LINK:, was initiated in 2011. This project is exploring effective approaches to monitoring of REDD+ initiatives. It is facilitating parallel community-based and scientist-executed monitoring of forest biomass and biodiversity in forested landscapes in Vietnam, Laos, China and Indonesia. The I-REDD+ project is funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission.

‘Monitoring Matters: Comparative Analysis of Innovative Approaches

A four-year research programme, ‘Monitoring Matters: Comparative Analysis of Innovative Approaches’, abbreviated MOMA, was initiated in 2006. The MOMA programme examined whether the locally-based monitoring approaches can detect true local or larger-scale natural resource trends and address the shortfalls of conventional monitoring.

This programme conducted quantitative comparisons of the findings of locally-based vis-à-vis conventional natural resource monitoring in selected sites in five priority developing countries. These countries were Ghana, Madagascar, Nicaragua, the Philippines and Tanzania. The programme was funded by the Research Council of the Danish Government (Danida). Key scientific articles from this programme are available at this website, under publications.


Locally-based Monitoring and Indigenous People in the Arctic

Locally-based approaches to monitoring of natural resources appear to be relevant in the Arctic (see Science 2007). In Greenland, the livelihood of the 2,500-3,000 full-time hunters and fishermen is threatened by climate changes. With the rapid change in ice and snow cover, the future of the hunting and fishing communities remains uncertain. Moreover, Greenland is being widely criticised internationally for the decline in the numbers of several species. Recently, the Home Rule Government has issued new policies for hunting but the regulations are not benefiting from support of the local people.

In 2008, the Home Rule Government organized a 4-day seminar on "Sustainable Management of Living Resources" for hunters and fishermen and the local government administration. One of the topics discussed was the possible potential of locally based monitoring to further improve the dialogue between local stakeholders, government resource managers and scientists, and to enhance the capacity of local community members in resource monitoring and management.

With funds from the Nordic Ministerial Council and the Government of Greenland, we are establishing and testing locally-based monitoring of resources in four communities in Disko Bay and Uummannaq, Qaasuitsup Municipality in North West Greenland. We expect the activities to improve the capacity and opportunities of the communities in terms of monitoring and managing resources within sustainable limits. Moreover, we expect it to improve communication and understanding between users and natural resource managers at a higher level. Experiences from this pilot project will be analysed and disseminated amongst Arctic decision-makers, scientists and managers. The initiative benefits from valuable lessons from involving local hunters in monitoring the populations of eider and caribou. The project is contributing to the implementation of the Arctic Council’s strategy on community-based resource monitoring (CAFF/2008). This strategy is available here.

Follow the project website at

Read the leaflet on locally-based monitoring in the Arctic:

English version                 Russian version


The 2004 Symposium ‘Monitoring Matters’

The suggested benefits of locally-based monitoring of natural resources are promising. An important question however is: How much of the potential of locally-based monitoring can be translated into tangible results on the ground? To address this question, the Nordic Agency for Development and Ecology (NORDECO, Denmark), and the Zoology Department of Cambridge University (UK) hosted a two-day symposium on locally-based monitoring in Denmark in 2004.

Fifteen case studies were presented and discussed at the symposium (See objectives; and Programme) The case studies have all been published in a Special Issue of Biodiversity and Conservation.