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Cover description: Community members measure the diameter of trees in a vegetation plot. Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD+) is a new policy mechanism agreed under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from developing countries through the sustainable management of forests, while providing co-benefits of biodiversity conservation and livelihood support.

New findings by Finn Danielsen and his colleagues suggest that local people can collect forest condition data of comparable quality to trained scientists, at half the cost. REDD+ strategies that involve local community members in monitoring carbon stocks may improve the capacity of many developing countries to deliver large cuts in emissions at a low cost within a short time frame. It may be the only economic way for countries to gather data on changing rates of forest degradation, which would be needed if REDD+ credits are going to be claimed for reduced degradation as well as for deforestation. Empowering communities to own and monitor carbon stocks could also contribute to local livelihoods and forest biodiversity conservation. Photo by Eliakimu Zahabu.