REDD+ Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation

Uganda becomes the first African country to submit REDD+ results to the UNFCCC


Uganda has become the first African country to submit REDD+ results to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), paving the way to potential results-based payments. In its recent submission of the REDD+ Technical Annex to the biennial update report (BUR), a reporting requirement for results-based payments, Uganda submitted Emission Reductions of 8 million tCO2 for 2016-2017.


Uganda’s commitment to protect its forests

Uganda’s lush tropical jungles, rainforests, savannahs, lakes and rivers are home to an astonishing array of biodiversity. In addition to supporting wildlife, so vital for the country's future heritage and tourist industry, Uganda's forest resources are an essential foundation for the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities. However, these valuable forest resources are disappearing rapidly.

In 2013, to protect Uganda’s forests, the Government of Uganda launched its own REDD+ Programme, demonstrating its commitment to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

In 2017, the country submitted its first Forest Reference Emission Level (FREL) of historical average emissions from deforestation for the period 2000 to 2015. Following this submission, the Government decided to assess the country’s performance in reducing emissions for the period 2015-2017 and to further improve estimates of forest change and associated emission factors by forest type. The inclusion of a number of additional carbon pools was also further explored, as recommended by the UNFCCC’s Technical Assessment of the Forest Reference Level.

Through financial support from both the UN-REDD Programme and from the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) over the last five years, FAO’s National Forest Monitoring team has provided technical support to Uganda’s National Forestry Authority (NFA) and Forest Sector Support Department (FSSD). The aim of the technical support has been to strengthen and enhance the country’s national forest monitoring system (NFMS) and to enable Ugandan counterparts to more readily monitor progress on slowing the rate of deforestation.

The institutionalization of an NFMS in Uganda has been designed to ensure that the Ministry of Water and Environment, the National Forest Authority and other related institutions responsible for the Ugandan forest estate have the capacity to measure and report forest-related carbon emissions by activity and in a transparent and verifiable manner.

Under a recently completed FCPF-financed REDD+ readiness grant, FAO supported the completion of a National Forest Inventory (NFI) (adding deadwood to the data collected) as well as updates to activity data on forest cover change using Open Foris SEPAL, and strengthening technical capacities in the inventory and GIS teams. The activity data allowed Uganda to assess the country’s performance in reducing emissions for the most recent period 2015-2017.

The results of the assessment have also indicated that nationally, deforestation was reduced from an average of 50,147 ha/year over the 15-year reference period (2000-2015) to 28,095 ha/year over the 2-year results period (2015-2017).


Additional data gathered

Over the last two years, the NFI resulted in trees and environmental variables being measured in more than 400 sample units across the country, covering approximately 230 ha of protected forests and land and 270 ha of areas outside of the forest land. NFI data has been centralized within the established data management system, further aiding NFMS institutionalization. A Geographic Information System (GIS) unit of the National Forest Authority has been trained on activity data estimations and a 2017 Land Use and Land Cover map has been created, allowing the country to develop area estimates at country level for tropical high forest (well stocked and low stocked), broadleaf and coniferous plantations, woodland (in and out of protected areas) and non-forested areas.  Emission factors have been updated thanks to inventory data captured in previously inaccessible locations. Combining the emission factors and the activity data from this most recent period allows us to better understand the rate of emissions due to forest loss over the period of interest.


First of the many

Uganda’s submission represents a crucial step in the REDD+ journey of the continent. In Africa, achieving REDD+ results is often overshadowed by other development priorities, with agriculture, mining, energy and forestry sectors all driving deforestation. The planning and implementation of REDD+ activities frequently compete with the realities of poverty in rural communities, where people rely on activities such as shifting cultivation and resource extraction to survive. The recently published FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 (FRA 2020) provides clear numbers. According to the report, Africa had the largest annual rate of net forest loss in 2010–2020, at 3.9 million ha. The rate of net forest loss has also increased in Africa in each of the three decades since 1990.

Therefore, supporting African countries through all of the three phases of REDD+ – readiness, implementation and result-based actions –, by providing tools and analysis of how to design, implement and measure the results of REDD+ action is key to reversing these trends and to positioning Africa as the forest champion of the next decade.



Useful links:

FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 Key findings:

Mapping Uganda's Forests:

Mapping forest degradation using remote sensing data in Uganda:

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