Linking REDD+ monitoring and implementation in forests and agriculture of Southern Africa


The reduction of emissions from deforestation in developing countries started to be discussed internationally in the framework of climate change agreements, since 2005. The concept has in the meanwhile evolved substantially, currently including Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD), plus a range of forest activities aimed at forest conservation, sustainable management and carbon stock enhancement (REDD+). Numerous aspects, both from the methodological as well as from the governance point of view, need to be further explored and improved before a REDD+ mechanism can be turned into a reality. Scientific research advancements are needed, in order to support the on-going discussions, towards future implementation. This thesis will deal with the methodological aspects of REDD+, focusing on two novel or understudied aspects of REDD-related research: extending the concept beyond forest, i.e. including other land uses (whole landscape approach); and the case of dry tropical/subtropical forests. The work to be developed will rely on remote sensing and in situ data as key-elements. Mozambique will be used as case-study, both at national scale, including as an example for the wider regional case of Sub-Saharan African countries characterised by dry forests, and at subnational scale.


The primary goal of this study is to contribute to the ability of Sub-Saharan African countries, in particular countries with few data and resources and characterised by dry tropical/subtropical forests, to participate in future climate change mitigation regimes, through their capacity to better monitor and verify the reduction of emissions and increase of removals of greenhouse gases in the land use sector. This will be done taking Mozambique as a case-study, using remote sensing-based products and methods and in situ collected data as key-elements, at different spatial scales and focusing on two novel or understudied aspects of REDD-related research: the whole landscape approach, meaning that not only activities related with forest, but also other land uses, are considered; and the case of dry tropical/subtropical forests. The specific objectives of this thesis can be formulated as follows:

  1. To get an overview of forest and land cover/use dynamics and carbon stocks, as well as their relation with main drivers and processes of change (including fire), using global, regional and national-scale data, since the 2000’s.
  2. To characterize the carbon stock dynamics and establish reference levels, towards the whole landscape approach with a focus on forest, agro-forestry and agriculture, in selected areas at subnational scale and since the 2000’s. This will be done through:
    • Exploring different methods to characterise the carbon stock dynamics of above-ground woody biomass;
    • Expanding the previous characterisation of carbon stock dynamics to carbon pools other than above-ground woody biomass (including soil organic carbon), characterising fire dynamics in the interplay forest-agriculture, and establishing reference levels for the selected areas.
  3. To use the results from the previous objectives to make recommendations on national-scale MRV system design and discuss the limitations, advantages and implications of the extension of REDD+ to the whole landscape approach from the methodological point of view.