Posted by: on

In January 2016, Ethiopia became the first African country to submit its forest reference level (FRL) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). With its FRL established, Ethiopia is now ready to measure its performance in reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), and has met a key requirement for receipt of results-based payments for verified emissions reductions.  

Based on results from these activities, the country can now calculate potential financial incentives it can receive for protecting its forests. The very objective of submitting the reference level is to allow for the country to be eligible for accessing carbon finances from various sources aimed at harnessing forestry development.

A FRL is a reference against which the effectiveness of REDD+ strategy implementation is measured in terms of a country's performance in emissions reduction or carbon removal, and on the basis of which financial incentives for a country are calculated.  It is a benchmark for assessing each country’s performance in implementing REDD+ activities.

Ethiopia's FRL includes deforestation and afforestation, as well as CO2 emissions. It is a national reference level (baseline) calculated using historical averages of emissions and removals between 2000 and 2013.


Counting Ethiopia’s Trees

While the Forest Reference Emission Level for deforestation is 19,498,496.10 tCO2/

Year (estimated from an annual deforestation rate of 84,882 ha over the last 13 years), the Forest Reference Level for afforestation is 10,247,080.97 tCO2/year (based on an annual afforestation rate of 30,769 ha over the last 13 years) putting the country as net emitter in the forest sector.

How Ethiopia defines its forests (land spanning at least 0.5 ha covered by trees and bamboo) not only ensures maximum REDD+ benefits, but also helps amplify the country’s efforts towards green growth economy. Based on this definition Forests in Ethiopia cover 15.5 perecent of the country’s surface.


Ethiopia is expected to receive financial incentives when it achieves emissions reduction from deforestation, when it removes more carbon compared to the reference set for afforestation, and when a third-party measures and verifies it through the monitoring, reporting and verification system.

REDD+ is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. REDD+ goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation, and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

Countries have agreed to implement REDD+ in phases to allow developing countries to participate in the activities in a way that considers their national circumstances. Most countries are currently in the readiness phase where they are required to prepare national REDD+ strategy, develop a national forest monitoring system, a measurement, reporting and verification system, develop forest reference emissions level and  safeguards information system. Ethiopia has been implanting its REDD+ readiness process since January 2013.

View Ethiopia’s forest reference level submission.


For further details please contact:

Dr. Yitebitu Moges, National REDD+ Coordinator
Tel.: +251912865584
Ato Getachew Shiferaw, Communications Specialist, National REDD+ Secretariat
Tel.: +251911645846