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How can REDD+ planners and stakeholders prioritise areas for REDD+ implementation? How much will REDD+ implementation actually cost and what benefits may it bring? How can different types of information, economic and non-economic, be combined to help planners make these kinds of decisions?

The Cambodia REDD+ National Programme is exploring these questions through the development of a decision support tool that combines spatial and economic information, with assistance from the UN-REDD Programme. As part of this process, a week-long capacity building and joint working session held in Phnom Penh In June brought together representatives from government agencies, non-government organizations and academia involved in REDD+ planning and implementation in Cambodia.



Participants in the joint working session, held in the new Cambodia Forestry and Wildlife Research Center



The thirteen participants in the session came from the Forestry Administration, Fisheries Administration, and Ministry of Environment, as well as the Royal University of Agriculture, Wildlife Conservation Society and Wildlife Alliance. The session utilised a number of activities and approaches, including technical presentations, group and pair work, technical tutorials and exercises, and facilitated discussions.

Participants learned about using QGIS, including tools and processes that can be applied in their everyday work, as well as the role of spatial analyses in supporting REDD+ planning. The participants also drew on their different technical backgrounds and roles in REDD+ to adapt and refine the proposed tool for use in Cambodia.




The participants and a facilitator review their ‘homework’, a series of challenges to complete using QGIS


The spatial decision support tool

The framework for the REDD+ spatial decision support tool is under development by UNEP-WCMC for the UN-REDD Programme, with the goal of allowing GIS technicians to undertake a series of analyses that help to identify and prioritize land areas for potential inclusion in REDD+. It will provide example workflows, which users can easily build on and adapt to country-specific purposes.

By maintaining, enhancing and restoring forests, REDD+ could help to achieve multiple environmental, social and economic goals and play a role in the transition to a green economy. An enhanced understanding of the costs and benefits of different REDD+ options and  the distribution of costs and benefits across a landscape, can help prioritize options and provide a valuable input for discussions on REDD+ planning.

For example, the session in Phnom Penh highlighted that watershed ecosystem services are considered an important additional benefit of REDD+ in Cambodia and should thus be included in the analysis. In addition, the participants proposed that the tool be able to compare different REDD+ options against each other in terms of implementation costs and the potential benefits they could enhance.

The use of the REDD+ spatial decision support tool is part of a wider project under Cambodia’s  REDD+ National Programme that aims to enhance the understanding of the costs and benefits of different REDD+ options, and how these vary spatially, as well as improve capacity to produce, use and apply decision support tools for REDD+ planning. This project involves the joint production of a costs-benefits analysis tool, as well as adaptation of the spatial tool, and its testing using data from two provinces, Mondulkiri in the north-east and Koh Kong in the south-west of the country.




Participants contemplate the steps of the spatial tool and how they could be adapted to suit the circumstances in Cambodia



Next steps

Following the session in Phnom Penh, a Cambodian team with support from UNEP-WCMC will work on modifying the tool and then testing it with spatial and economic data gathered for the two provinces.

The results of this analysis are expected in September 2015, and will be shared during a final workshop planned for late September. The final versions of the spatial tool and costs-benefits analysis tool for Cambodia will also be shared, with an introduction to how they can be applied to support REDD+ planning.


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