Assessment of capacity-building activities for forest measurement, reporting, and verification, 2011–15

Open-File Report 2018-1031

Prepared in cooperation with Wageningen University, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of State, and the European Space Agency
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This report was written as a collaborative effort between the U.S. Geological Survey, SilvaCarbon, and Wageningen University with funding provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the European Space Agency, respectively, to address a pressing need for enhanced result-based monitoring and evaluation of delivered capacity-building activities. For this report, the capacity-building activities delivered by capacity-building providers (referred to as “providers” hereafter) during 2011–15 (the study period) to support countries in building measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) systems for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) were assessed and evaluated.

Summarizing capacity-building activities and outcomes across multiple providers was challenging. Many of the providers did not have information readily available, which precluded them from participating in this study despite the usefulness of their information. This issue led to a key proposed future action: Capacity-building providers could establish a central repository within the Global Forestry Observation Initiative (GFOI; where data from past, current, and future activities of all capacity-building providers could be stored. The repository could be maintained in a manner to continually learn from previous lessons.

Although various providers monitored and evaluated the success of their capacity-building activities, such evaluations only assessed the success of immediate outcomes and not the overarching outcomes and impacts of activities implemented by multiple providers. Good monitoring and evaluation should continuously monitor and periodically evaluate all factors affecting the outcomes of a provided capacity-building activity.

The absence of a methodology to produce quantitative evidence of a causal link between multiple capacity-building activities delivered and successful outcomes left only a plausible association. A previous publication argued that plausible association, although not a precise measurement of cause and effect, was a realistic tool. Our review of the available literature on this subject did not find another similar assessment to assess capacity-building activities for supporting the countries in building MRV system for REDD+.

Four countries from the main forested regions of Africa, the Americas, and Asia were chosen as subjects for this report based on the length of time SilvaCarbon and other providers have provided capacity-building activities toward MRV system for REDD+: Colombia (the Americas), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC; Africa), Peru (the Americas), and the Republic of the Philippines (referred to as “the Philippines” hereafter; Asia).

Several providers were contacted for information to include in this report, but, because of various constraints, only SilvaCarbon, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) participated in this study. These three providers supported various targeted capacity-building activities through-out Africa, the Americas, and Asia, including the following: technical workshops at national and regional levels (referred to as “workshops” hereafter), hands on training, study tours, technical details by experts, technical consultation between providers and recipients, sponsorship for travel, organizing network meetings, developing sampling protocols, assessing deforestation and degradation drivers, estimating carbon stock and flow, designing monitoring systems for multiple uses, promoting public-private partnerships to scale up investments on MRV system for REDD+, and assisting with the design of national forest monitoring systems.

Their activities were planned in coordination with key partners in each country and region and with the support and assistance of other providers. Note that several other organizations and institutions assisted the providers to deliver capacity-building activities, including Boston University, Conservation International, Stanford University, University of Maryland, and Wageningen University & Research.

Suggested Citation

Peneva-Reed, E.I., and Romijn, J.E, 2018, Assessment of capacity-building activities for forest measurement, reporting, and verification, 2011–15: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2018–1031, 35 p.,

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Datasets
  • Methods
  • Findings and Discussion
  • Conclusions and Future Actions
  • References Cited
  • Appendix 1

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Assessment of capacity-building activities for forest measurement, reporting, and verification, 2011–15
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Eastern Geographic Science Center
v, 35 p.
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