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Mongolia learns more about the mitigation potential of its forests.

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Mongolia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism, with the support of the Mongolia UN-REDD National Programme, submitted its Forest Reference Level (FRL) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in January 2018.    A FRL, or Forest Reference Emission Level (FREL), is one of the four elements of REDD+, according to the decisions of the United Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  It sets a benchmark - or reference – of the amount of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) that a country has released from their forests into the atmosphere in the recent past.   Whilst numerous tropical countries have submitted a reference level, Mongolia is the first country with boreal forests to accomplish this.

Groundtruthing Mongolia

Ground-truthing forest sites in Mongolia

Mongolia’s FRL was calculated based on a comprehensive study of forest change using the Open Foris Collect Earth tool, part of an open source set of tools for forest and land use monitoring developed by FAO.   Over 120,000 points were assessed across the whole country, showing that 1.4 million hectares of forest were degraded over a ten-year period from 2005 to 2015, or approximately 140,000 hectares per year. Deforestation, where forest has been lost and converted to other land uses, occurred at a rate of approximately 5,300 ha per year over the same period.

Collect Earth Mongolia

Mongolia used the Collect Earth tool to examine forest changes.

Based on these estimates, Mongolia’s FRL was calculated as 5.2 million tCO2e/year.  Mrs Tungalag, the UN-REDD National Programme Director stated ‘It is a remarkable achievement for Mongolia and is a good first step towards REDD+ implementation and to meeting international commitments according to the objectives of the country’s Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement’.

GHG Trends

Analysis of Trends in Greenhouse Gas Emission and Removals from Deforestation, Forest Degradation and Carbon Stock Enhancement

The REDD+ Mongolia team plans to further develop the capacities of national institutions so that the FRL can be further refined to improve coverage and accuracy. The initial version of Mongolia’s FRL report can be found at the following link ( 

Article prepared by Christopher Dickinson, Chief Technical Advisor, and Yeseul Byun, MRV Advisor, Mongolia UN-REDD National Programme

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