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Several UN-REDD Programme partner countries shared their experiences in developing a forest reference emission levels / forest reference level (FREL/FRL) during a panel session at the Global Landscape Forum – held parallel to the Paris UN Climate Change Conference in December 2015,.

As the countries are at different stages in the process, the discussion allowed for a rich exchange of views and ways forward. Zambia and the Republic of Congo indicated their intention of submitting their FREL/REL this year, while Cambodia and DRC indicated they would do the same during 2016. Colombia shared their experience on the technical assessment they went through since they had submitted their REL earlier on in 2014.Representatives from Cambodia, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Republic of Congo and Zambia presented the status of their draft FREL/FRL submission to the UNFCCC and discussed the common challenges in the FREL/FRL set up.


In order to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, knowledge stemming from forest inventories and their carbon stocks is essential. The data and information submitted by the countries constitutes the international basis to establish a forest reference emission level for these countries.

To be able to advance, countries need to establish their benchmarks to assess the performance of developing countries in the implementation of their REDD+ activities.

The GLF session was a good opportunity to showcase the steps taken by countries in reaching REDD+ readiness. The progress on forest reference levels for REDD+ has been outstanding. Six countries submitted theirs between 2014 and 2015 and five assessment reports were already available.

During the panel discussion, countries mentioned how the information they were collecting for REDD+ FREL/FRLs and through their national forest monitoring systems is seen as an asset not only for reporting to access REDD+ finance, but also for domestic purposes and better planning. In this respect, Georges Bounzanga from the Republic of Congo said, “we feel that we must consider development needs, foremost fighting poverty, in planning our REDD+ activities”. 

All countries are following a step-wise approach in terms of scope (i.e. the activities selected) and scale of the activities. The session gave countries the opportunity to express the challenges they were facing and share possible ways to face them.

When referring to the process behind the development of a FREL/FRL, Gustavo Galindo from the National REDD+ Programme in Colombia stressed how its development is a learning-by-doing process, and said, “It is important to have open space to grow and improve our FRL over time.

Countries rely on the technical assessment process as a constructive iterative process for improvement of their reference levels. Consistency with other date reported (such as the greenhouse gas inventories) is essential to build credibility.

View the video of the entire session here.