Completing the Picture: Importance of Considering Participatory Mapping for REDD+ Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV)

Remote sensing has been widely used for mapping land cover and is considered key to monitoring changes in forest areas in the REDD+ Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system. But Remote Sensing as a desk study cannot capture the whole picture; it also requires ground checking. Therefore, complementing remote sensing analysis using participatory mapping can help provide information for an initial forest cover assessment, gain better understanding of how local land use might affect changes, and provide a way to engage local communities in REDD+. Our study looked at the potential of participatory mapping in providing complementary information for remotely sensed maps. The research sites were located in different ecological and socio-economic contexts in the provinces of Papua, West Kalimantan and Central Java, Indonesia. Twenty-one maps of land cover and land use were drawn with local community participation during focus group discussions in seven villages. These maps, covering a total of 270,000ha, were used to add information to maps developed using remote sensing, adding 39 land covers to the eight from our initial desk assessment. They also provided additional information on drivers of land use and land cover change, resource areas, territory claims and land status, which we were able to correlate to understand changes in forest cover. Incorporating participatory mapping in the REDD+ MRV protocol would help with initial remotely sensed land classifications, stratify an area for ground checks and measurement plots, and add other valuable social data not visible at the RS scale. Ultimately, it would provide a forum for local communities to discuss REDD+ activities and develop a better understanding of REDD+.