Combining independent monitoring of forest governance and REDD+ in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

  • Year

    2014 – 2015

  • Location

    Democratic Republic of the Congo

  • Partners

    Field Legality Advisory Group (FLAG), Observatory of Forest Governance (OGF), Moabi

  • Budget

    EUR 60 000

  • Funded by

    European Union


The EU REDD Facility supported the development of a framework of independent monitoring that integrates aspects of both forest governance (FLEG) and REDD+ together in the province of Maï Ndombe in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The objective

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:

  • Developing and testing a joint methodology for IM-FLEG and IM-REDD in the Maï Ndombe emissions reduction program area
  • Integrating IM-FLEG data into the Open Maï Ndombe web portal of the Moabi initiative
  • Generating a roadmap for independent monitoring of FLEG and REDD in Maï Ndombe emissions reduction program

The challenge

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 approach

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.

Results and impact


  • The project has demonstrated that it is possible to collect independent monitoring data encompassing both law enforcement and REDD+ standards and safeguards in any given area in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The approach is relevant because many issues observed in the field directly affect both REDD+ and FLEG.
  • The joint IM FLEG/IM-REDD methodology has been adjusted based on feedback from field testing. This methodology will be implemented in the Maï Ndombe emissions reduction program area and throughout the country.
  • The role of independent monitoring in the Maï Ndombe program has been clarified through discussions among civil society and REDD+ stakeholders.
  • The Open Maï Ndombe portal, as part of the Moabi initiative, is now including IM-FLEG data to ensure a greater transparency and accessibility of independent monitoring information.
  • National and provincial partners have developed a better understanding of independent monitoring and of the links that exist between REDD+ and FLEG.


  • OGF has a clearer vision of its work in REDD+ implementation, which has helped improve coordination and communication within the organisation’s team.
  • Civil society organisations have discussed and shared their views on what their roles and responsibilities are as part of the Maï Ndombe emissions reduction program.
  • Key REDD+ and forestry stakeholders from the CN REDD and the provincial government have developed a better understanding of the role and importance of independent monitoring. The field mission provided an opportunity for government participants to see realities on the ground first-hand and to identify the governance issue priorities to be addressed.
  • The project has generated an increased interest in independent monitoring in other Central African countries engaged in REDD+ and FLEGT. Independent monitors from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo held information-sharing exchanges in September 2015.
  • The approach is now being supported and scaled-up to the Congo Basin through the Citizen Voices for Change program financed by the European Union and implemented by the Centre for International Development and Training, University of Wolverhampton and local partners.