2014 – 2015
The project explored opportunities to combine two types of independent monitoring: independent monitoring of forest governance (IM-FLEG) and independent monitoring of REDD+ (IM-REDD). The main objectives of the project included:
Illegal logging is a major driver of deforestation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There is an opportunity to integrate the two monitoring approaches of IM-FLEG and IM-REDD because there are overlaps in the various types of data that are collected through both monitoring frameworks.
Civil society plays an important role in monitoring forest law enforcement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, especially in situations where the Government lacks the resources to perform control duties. The independent monitoring of forest governance (IM-FLEG) is framed by national forest law and implemented by a local NGO called the Observatory of Forest Governance (OGF). OGF is supported by the Field Legality Advisory Group (FLAG), an organization composed of experts leading several IM-FLEG projects across the Congo Basin.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has been laying the groundwork for REDD+ implementation since 2009. The National REDD+ Framework Strategy was adopted in late 2012 and the country is currently transitioning into the investment phase, notably through the preparation of a jurisdictional emissions reduction program in the Maï Ndombe province. The Moabi initiative was established in 2011 as a collaborative geospatial information platform to gather land-use governance information. Since 2014, OGF has been working in partnership with Moabi to develop a framework for the independent monitoring of REDD+ (IM-REDD).
The experience gained through the processes of design and implementation of IM-FLEG is a major asset in the development of IM-REDD. This is especially the case since OGF is implementing both FLEG and REDD+ independent monitoring activities and lessons can be transferred from one to the other. Exploring the common features of IM-FLEG and IM-REDD could increase the efficiency of monitoring missions, enhance transparency in law enforcement and of REDD+ safeguards, and significantly reduce costs. The development of the Maï Ndombe emissions reduction program represents a key opportunity for closer interaction between IM-REDD and IM-FLEG.
The IM-FLEG-REDD mission team
The project began by identifying overlaps between data collected as part of IM-FLEG and data on REDD+ emissions reductions and social and environmental standards. A REDD+ expert participated in a mandated IM-FLEG mission in February 2015 to pinpoint the overlaps as information was collected in the field. The expert also sought to identify potential synergies between the two monitoring methods.
A methodology was drafted on that basis, compiling documentary and field verifiers informing the implementation activities of both FLEG and REDD+. A gap analysis was also conducted to identify additional verifiers needed in the context of REDD+. A joint IM-FLEG/IM-REDD mission checklist was drafted and encoded using smartphones for data collection.
These tools were tested during a joint IM-FLEG/IM-REDD mission in July 2015. The multi-stakeholder team included independent monitoring experts as well as representatives from the National REDD Coordination (CN REDD), the provincial government, and local and national civil society. The team visited an area of the Maï Ndombe province where industrial and artisanal loggers were operating and where a REDD+ project was already established.
The mission tested the combined methodology and observed a number of activities that were having a direct impact on the emissions reduction program and forest governance. These results were discussed during a consultation workshop with civil society and other stakeholders and were also presented to the administration.
The Open Maï Ndombe web portal was designed in tandem with these exercises to integrate information on REDD+ and FLEG.