Integration and scaling up

Data from community-based forest monitoring initiatives may be relevant to larger-scale frameworks or land management across a landscape scale. Indeed collecting information for this purpose may be one of the initiative's aims. For REDD+ this might include making sure that data can easily feed into, or can be compared with, state or national-level monitoring systems and REDD+ Safeguard Information Systems.

Where integration is desirable, it is useful to consider the lessons learned in community-based forest monitoring initiatives where it has been attempted. Examples of these include the two initiatives GCP has led in North Rupununi, Guyana, and the Chico Mendes Extractivist Reserve, in Acre, Brazil. For these initiatives, the challenges, solutions and successes in integration and scaling up are described in our paper, Scaling up community-based forest monitoring for REDD+: experiences from Guyana and Brazil. These issues have also been explored by a number of other practitioners (see suggested reading, below).

In our paper we identify the following challenges for integration of community data in the context of REDD+. Many of these are relevant to other international forest agendas, and also echo the findings of others.

  • An absence of institutional mandates for using locally-generated data;
  • Scepticism and misperceptions of the quality of community-collected data;
  • Political barriers to devolution of forest management and monitoring responsibilities;
  • A lack of agreed formats for reporting data;
  • Disagreement between stakeholders on what data to share and what to keep confidential (e.g. only within the community);
  • Lack of clarity on the monitoring frameworks of the international forest agendas;
  • Unclear funding arrangements for REDD+ (meaning uncertain and limited funding to support the design and scaling-up of relevant community-based initiatives).

To overcome these challenges, we recommend:

  • Promoting the use and sharing of community-generated information through cross-scale coordination and data sharing agreements (see our section on data sharing), and through institutional mandates for community data assimilation.
  • Balancing local and external monitoring needs and priorities, to ensure the relevance of information to multiple stakeholders, and the sustainability of monitoring initiatives (see our section on involving the right people). This can involve selecting a set of indicators that address both mutual and individual monitoring interests.
  • Earmarking funds (e.g. those generated through REDD+ financial mechanisms) to sustain and catalyse local monitoring and training, and to promote institutional capacity-building to enable government actors to use community-collected data.
  • Standardising some aspects of community-based forest monitoring methodologies by establishing basic minimum standards and protocols, and guidelines on best practice. This can help improve comparability and replication at scale. 

Further reading:

Angelsen, A., et al. (eds) 2012 Analysing REDD+: Challenges and choices. CIFOR, Bogor, Indonesia. pdf_files/Books/BAngelsen1201.pdf

Austin, K. and Stolle, F. Community-based Monitoring. In: Hewson, J., M.K. Steininger and S. Pesmajoglou, eds. 2014. REDD+ Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) Manual, Version 2.0. USAID-supported Forest Carbon, Markets and Communities Program. Washington, DC, USA.

Danielsen, F., et al. 2013. Community monitoring for REDD+: International Promises and Field Realities. Ecology and Society, 18(3):41.

Danielsen, F. et al. 2008. Local Participation in Natural Resource Monitoring: A Characterization of Approaches. Conservation Biology, Volume 23, No. 1, 31–42. DOI: 10.1111/j.1523- 1739.2008.01063.x

Lund, J. F. 2014. Towards a more balanced view on the potentials of locally-based monitoring. Biodiversity and Conservation, 23(1), 237–239. (Pre-proof version accessible at

Pratihast, A.K. et al. Linking community-based and national REDD+ monitoring: a review of the potential. Carbon Management, 2013, 4(1), 91-104. (link not available)

Sabogal, D. 2015. Data sharing in community-based forest monitoring: lessons from Guyana. Oxford: Global Canopy Programme., or see the dedicated section of our website.

Sabogal D., et al. 2015. Community forest monitoring: experiences from the Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve. Oxford: Global Canopy Programme.

Scheyvens, H. 2012. Community-based Forest Monitoring for REDD+: Lessons and reflections from the field. IGES Policy Brief M. 22.