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Malawi releases new roadmap to develop its national forest monitoring system

Malawi’s Department of Forestry has drafted a roadmap for the development of its national forest monitoring system (NFMS). The seven-month process took place from April to October 2015 with the technical support of the UN-REDD Programme.

The aim of the roadmap is to provide direction to the Malawi REDD+ Programme for capacity development and more importantly, to serve as a guide or framework for the country’s NFMS.

Endorsed by the government in October 2015, the Roadmap for Developing Malawi’s National Forest Monitoring System was developed through a multi-stakeholder process involving civil society and non-governmental organizations, government departments, local communities, the private sector, and was guided by various reports and literature, UNFCCC and IPCC guidelines and experiences elsewhere.

According to Malawi’s Director of Forestry, Clement Chilima, “The roadmap links well with the vision and goals of the Department of Forestry”.

He adds that it “provides a platform for the Government of Malawi – with support from various partners such as the USAID-funded PERFORM project, the UN-REDD Programme and others – to work towards the Malawi REDD+ Programme’s Readiness Strategy”.

An NFMS is a set of data collection efforts undertaken by governments in the context of forest and climate change policy. It supports both REDD+ activities and management of a country’s forests more generally. The roadmap for Malawi’s NFMS indentifies four main components: (1) land monitoring, (2) field-based forest inventory, (3) an approach to reference-level setting, and (4) a national greenhouse gas inventory.


The proposed capacity development trajectory serves as a skeletal framework that details required technical and functional capacities for tracking REDD+ results. The roadmap is intended to guide strategic decision making at the Malawi REDD+ Programme for years to come.

There are current capacity gaps in forest monitoring which are at times complex and difficult to address through capacity development interventions. These may include:

  • Governmental decision making and natural resource management does not always draw on best available data.
  • Institutional role allocation and modalities for institutional collaboration are often unclear.
  • Processes for data definition, data archiving and quality checking need further development.
  • Development partners have invested in data collection and a wealth of data are available, but government programmes for forest monitoring are underfunded.

To address such issues, the Malawi NFMS roadmap stresses the need for strong leadership to improve forest monitoring. The senior-level management across the several departments need to find a common vision to continuously push for data to underlie government decision-making, to appropriately fund governmental programmes for data collection, to clarify institutional relationships and enable effective collaboration among institutions, and to review and revise processes towards effective and efficient data management.

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More information on REDD+ in Malawi is available here.