Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-cf9d5c678-j7tnp Total loading time: 0.297 Render date: 2021-08-04T11:55:05.696Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Implementation of REDD+ in sub-Saharan Africa: state of knowledge, challenges and opportunities

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 June 2011

Laboratorio di Ecologia Forestale, Dipartimento di Scienze dell'Ambiente Forestale e delle sue Risorse, Facoltà di Agraria, Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Via Camillo de Lellis, snc – 01100, Viterbo, Italy; Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), UMR 210 Eco&Sols (INRA-IRD-SupAgro), France; and AgroParisTech-ENGREF, GEEFT, France. Email:
Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, UK. Email:
Centre International de Recherche sur l'Environnement et le Développement, France. Email:
International Union for Conservation of Nature – Economics and Environment, Switzerland. Email:
Laboratorio di Ecologia Forestale, Dipartimento di Scienze dell'Ambiente Forestale e delle sue Risorse, Facoltà di Agraria, Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Italy. Email:


Deforestation and forest degradation represent an important part of global CO2 emissions. The identification of the multiple drivers of land-use change, past and present forest cover change and associated carbon budget, and the presence of locally adapted systems to allow for proper monitoring are particularly lacking in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Any incentive system to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) will have to overcome those limits. This paper reviews the main challenges to implementing effective REDD+ mitigation activities in SSA. We estimate that SSA is currently a net carbon sink of approximately 319 TgCO2 yr−1. Forest degradation and deforestation put the forest carbon stock at risk (mean forest carbon stock is 57,679 TgC). Our results highlight the importance of looking beyond the forest sector to ensure that REDD+ efforts are aligned with agricultural and land-use policies.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Achard, F., DeFries, R., Eva, H., Hansen, M., Mayaux, P., and Stibig, H.-J. (2007), ‘Pan-tropical monitoring of deforestation’, Environmental Research Letters 2: 113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Aina, O.M., Adetogun, A.C., Adedokun, M.O., and Onilude, M.A. (2005), ‘Alternative cooking fuels from sawmill wastes’, paper presented at the Farm Management Association of Nigeria Conference, 18–20 October, Asaba, Nigeria.Google Scholar
Angelsen, A. and Kaimowitz, D. (1999), ‘Rethinking the causes of deforestation: lessons from economic models’, The World Bank Research Observer 14: 7398.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Arnold, J.E.M., Köhlin, G., and Persson, R. (2006), ‘Woodfuels, livelihoods, and policy interventions: changing perspectives’, World Development 34: 596611.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Baccini, A., Laporte, N., Goetz, S.J., Sun, M., and Dong, H. (2008), ‘A first map of tropical Africa's above-ground biomass derived from satellite imagery’, Environment Research Letters 3: 045011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Beintema, N.M. and Stads, G.-J. (2004), ‘Sub-Saharan African agricultural research: recent investment trends’, Outlook on Agriculture 33: 239246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Birikorang, G., Okai, R., Asenso-Okyere, K., Afrane, S., and Robinson, G. (2001), ‘Ghana wood industry and log export ban study’, Forestry Commission Report to the Ministry of Lands and Forestry, Forestry Commission, Accra, Ghana.Google Scholar
Bombelli, A., Henry, M., Castaldi, S., Adu-Bredu, S., Arneth, A., de Grandcourt, A., Grieco, E., Kutsch, W.L., Lehsten, V., Rasile, A., Reichstein, M., Tansey, K., Weber, U., and Valentini, R. (2009), ‘An outlook on the Sub-Saharan Africa carbon balance’, Biogeosciences 6: 21932205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brown, S., Pearson, T., Moore, N., Parveen, A., Ambagis, S., and Shoch, D. (2005), ‘Impact of selective logging on the carbon stocks of tropical forests: Republic of Congo as a case study’, Report submitted to the United States Agency for International Development, Winrock International, Arlington, VA.Google Scholar
Buba, J., Karsenty, A., and Bassaler, N. (2010), ‘La lutte contre la déforestation dans les “États fragiles”: une vision renouvelée de l'aide au développement’, La Note de Veille 180: 112 [in French].Google Scholar
Burney, J.A., Davis, S.J., and Lobell, D.B. (2010), ‘Greenhouse gas mitigation by agricultural intensification’, PNAS 107 (26): 1205212057.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Canadell, J.G., Raupach, M.R., and Houghton, R.A. (2009), ‘Anthropogenic CO2 emissions in Africa’, Biogeosciences 6: 463468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ciais, P., Bombelli, A., Williams, M., Piao, S.L., Chave, J., Ryan, C.M., Henry, M., Brender, P., and Valentini, R. (2011), ‘The carbon balance of Africa: synthesis of recent research studies’, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A 369: 120.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Cox, M., Munro-Faure, P., Dey-Abbas, J., Rouse, J., and Baas, S. (2003), ‘Land reform, land settlement and cooperatives’, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.Google Scholar
de Wasseige, C., Devers, D., de Marcken, P., Eba'a Atyi, R., Nasi, R., and Mayaux, P. (2009), The Forests of the Congo Basin – State of the Forest 2008, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.Google Scholar
Defourny, P., Vancutsem, C., Bicheron, P., Brockmann, C., Nino, F., and Schouten, M.L.L. (2006), ‘Globcover: a 300 m global land cover product for 2005 using Envisat Meris time series’, Proceedings of ISPRS Commission VII Symposium: Remote Sensing from Pixels to Processes, Enschede, The Netherlands, pp. 811.Google Scholar
DeFries, R.S., Asner, G., Achard, F., Justice, C., Laporte, N., Price, K., Small, C., and Townshend, J. (2005), ‘Monitoring tropical deforestation from emerging carbon markets’, in Moutinho, P. and Schartzman, S. (eds), Remote Sensing Analysis of Tropical Deforestation and Baselines for Carbon Crediting and Biodiversity, Belém, Brazil: Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia, pp. 3544.Google Scholar
DeFries, R.S., Rudel, T.K., Uriarte, M., and Hansen, M. (2010), ‘Deforestation driven by urban population growth and agricultural trade in the twenty-first century’, Nature Geoscience 3: 178181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Detwiler, R.P. (1986), ‘Land use change and the global carbon cycle: the role of tropical soils’, Biogeochemistry 2: 6793.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Diao, X., Hazell, P., and Thurlow, J. (2010), ‘The role of agriculture in African development’, World Development 38: 13751383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
ESRI (2008), ArcGIS Desktop 9.3 Service Pack, Redland, CA: ESRI.Google Scholar
FAO (1995) ‘Global and national soils and terrain digital databases (SOTER)’, World Soil Resources Reports 74, Rev. 1, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.Google Scholar
FAO (2003), ‘The state of food and agriculture in Africa’, Special Report prepared for the Conference of Ministers of Agriculture of the African Union, 1–2 July 2003, Maputo, Mozambique.Google Scholar
FAO (2006a), ‘Choosing a forest definition for the Clean Development Mechanism’, Forest and Climate Change Working Paper No. 4, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Rome.Google Scholar
FAO (2006b), Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.Google ScholarPubMed
FAO (2006c), ‘Prospects for food, nutrition, agriculture and major commodity groups, world agriculture: towards 2030/2050’, Interim Report, Global Perspective Studies Unit, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.Google Scholar
FAO (2007), State of the World's Forests, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.Google Scholar
FAO/IIASA/ISRIC/ISSCAS/JRC (2008), ‘Harmonized world soil database (version 1.0)’, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome and International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria.Google Scholar
Fuller, D.O. (2006), ‘Tropical forest monitoring and remote sensing: a new era of transparency in forest governance?Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 27 (1): 1529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gaston, G., Brown, S., Massimiliano, L., and Singh, K.D. (1998), ‘State and change in carbon pools in the forests of tropical Africa’, Global Change Biology 4: 97114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Geist, H.J. and Lambin, E.F. (2001), ‘What drives tropical deforestation?’, LUCC Report Series No. 4, University of Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve.Google Scholar
Gibbs, H.K. (2006), ‘Olson's major world ecosystem complexes ranked by carbon in live vegetation: an updated database using the GLC2000 land cover product’, Carbon Dioxide Information Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN.Google Scholar
Gibbs, H.K., Brown, S., Niles, J.O., and Foley, J.A. (2007), ‘Monitoring and estimating tropical forest carbon stocks: making REDD a reality’, Environmental Research Letters 2: 045023.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gineste, M., Martel, S., Henry, M., Adu-Bredu, S., and Saint-André, L. (2008), ‘Estimating the impact of selective logging on aboveground carbon stocks in Boi Tano Forest Reserve’, Proceedings of the Carboafrica Annual Meeting, 25–27 November, Accra, Ghana.Google Scholar
Gitz, V. (2004), ‘Changement d'usage des terres et politiques climatiques globales’, Ph.D. thesis, AgroParisTech/ENGREF, Paris [in French].Google Scholar
Goetz, S.J., Baccini, A., Laporte, N.T., Johns, T., Walker, W., Kellndorfer, J., Houghton, R.A., and Sun, M.. (2009), ‘Mapping and monitoring carbon stocks with satellite observations: a comparison of methods’, Carbon Balance and Management 4: 17.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
GOFC-GOLD (2009), ‘Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and degradation in developing countries: a sourcebook of methods and procedures for monitoring, measuring and reporting’, GOFC-GOLD Report version COP14–2, GOFC-GOLD Project Office, Natural Resources Canada, Alberta.Google Scholar
Goldstein, M. and Udry, C. (2005), ‘The profits of power: land rights and agricultural investment in Ghana’, Working Paper 929, Economic Growth Center, Yale University, New Haven, CT.Google Scholar
Guo, L. and Gifford, R.M. (2002), ‘Soil carbon stocks and land use change: a meta-analysis’, Global Change Biology 8: 345360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hazell, P. and Diao, X. (2005), ‘The role of agriculture and small farmers in economic development’, paper presented at the Future of Small Farms Workshop, 26–29 June, Wye College, UK.Google Scholar
Henry, M., Valentini, R., and Bernoux, M. (2009), ‘Soil carbon stocks in ecoregions of Africa’, Biogeosciences for Discussions 6: 797823.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Henry, M., Besnard, A., Asante, W.A., Eshun, J., Adu-Bredu, S., Valentini, R., Bernoux, M., and Saint-André, L. (2010), ‘Wood density, phytomass variations within and among trees, and allometric equations in a tropical rainforest of Africa’, Forest Ecology and Management 260: 13751388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hilker, T., Wulder, M.A., and Coops, N.C. (2008), ‘Update of forest inventory data with lidar and high spatial resolution satellite imagery’, Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing 34: 512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Houghton, R.A. and Hackler, J.L. (2006), ‘Emissions of carbon from land use change in sub-Saharan Africa’, Journal of Geophysical Research 111: G02003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Imbernon, J. (2004), ‘A spatial approach to deforestation phenomena, what remote sensing can contribute’, in Babin, D. (ed.), Beyond Tropical Deforestation, Paris: UNESCO, CIRAD, pp. 1322.Google Scholar
IPCC (2003), Good Practice Guidance for Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, [Available at] Scholar
IPCC (2006), 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, Hayama, Japan: Institute for Global Environmental Strategies.Google Scholar
ITTO (2008), Annual Review and Assessment of the World Timber Situation, Yokohama, Japan: International Tropical Timber Organization.Google Scholar
Kalu, C. and Modugu, W.W. (2010), ‘Econometric analysis of management approaches of West African natural forests’, Research Journal of Social Sciences 5: 711.Google Scholar
Kasanga, R.K. (1988), ‘Land tenure and the development dialogue, the myth concerning communal landholding in Ghana’, Occasional Paper No. 19, Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge, Cambridge.Google Scholar
Kituyi, E., Wandiga, S.O., Andreae, M.O., and Helas, G.B. (2005), ‘Biomass burning in Africa: role in atmospheric change and opportunities for emission mitigation’, in Low, P. Sum (ed.), Climate Change and Africa, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 7989.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Laporte, N., Merry, F., Baccini, A., Goetz, S., Stabach, J., and Bowman, M. (2007), ‘Reducing CO2 emissions from deforestation and degradation in the democratic republic of Congo: a first look’, Report prepared by the Woods Hole Research Center, Falmouth, MA.Google Scholar
Le Quéré, C., Raupach, M.R., Canadell, J.G., et al. (2009), ‘Trends in the sources and sinks of carbon dioxide’, Nature Geoscience 2: 831836.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lebedys, A. (2008), ‘Contribution of the forestry sector to national economies, 1990–2006’, Forest Finance Working Paper FSFM/ACC/08, FAO, Rome.Google Scholar
Malhi, Y. and Wright, J. (2005), ‘Late twentieth-century patterns and trends in the climate of tropical forest regions’, in Malhi, Y. and Philips, O. (eds), Tropical Forests and Global Atmospheric Change, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 316.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Nasi, R., Cassagne, B., and Billand, A. (2006), ‘Forest management in Central Africa: where are we?International Forestry Review 8: 1420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nasi, R., Mayaux, P., Devers, D., Bayol, N., Eba'a Atyi, R., Mugnier, A., Cassagne, B., Billand, A., and Sonwa, D. (2009), ‘A first look at carbon stocks and their variation in Congo Basin forests’, in de Wasseige, C., Devers, D., de Marcken, P., Eba'a Atyi, R., Nasi, R. and Mayaux, P. (eds), The Forests of the Congo Basin: State of the Forest, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, pp. 191208.Google Scholar
Návar, J. (2009), ‘Biomass component equations for Latin American species and groups of species’, Annual of Forest Sciences 66: 208216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ninnin, B. (1994), ‘Eléments d'économie spatiale des énergies traditionnelles: application au cas de cinq pays Sahéliens: Burkina Faso, Gambie, Mali, Niger, Sénégal’, Programme Régional pour le Secteur des Energies Traditionelles (RPTES), Africa Region, World Bank, Washington, DC [in French].Google Scholar
Parker, C., Mitchell, A., Trivedi, M., and Mardas, N. (2008), Little REDD Book: A Guide to Governmental and Non-Governmental Proposals for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, Oxford: Global Canopy Foundation.Google Scholar
Peres, C.A., Barlow, J., and Laurance, W.F. (2006), ‘Detecting anthropogenic disturbance in tropical forests’, TRENDS in Ecology and Evolution 21: 227229.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Roy, D.P. and Boschetti, L. (2009), ‘Southern Africa Validation of the MODIS, L3JRC and GlobCarbon Burned-Area Products’, IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing 47: 10321044.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rudel, T. and Roper, J. (1997), ‘Forest fragmentation in the humid tropics: a cross-national analysis’, Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 18: 99109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schulze, E.D., Beck, E., and Müller-Hohenstein, K. (2002), ‘Human influence on carbon balance and significance for global climate’, in Plant Ecology, Berlin: Springer-Verlag, pp. 641648.Google Scholar
Soares-Filho, B.S., Nepstad, D.C., Curran, L.M., Cerqueira, G.C., Garcia, R.A., Ramos, C.A., Voll, E., McDonald, A., Lefebvre, P., and Schlesinger, P. (2006), ‘Modelling conservation in the Amazon basin’, Nature 440: 520523.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Sombroek, W., Nachtergaele, F.O., and Hebel, A. (1993), ‘Amounts, dynamics and sequestering of carbon in tropical and subtropical soils’, Ambio 22: 417426.Google Scholar
Souza, C.M.J., Roberts, D.A., and Cochrane, M.A. (2005), ‘Combining spectral and spatial information to map canopy damage from selective logging and forest fires’, Remote Sensing of Environment 98: 329343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tiffen, M. (2003), ‘Transition in sub-Saharan Africa: agriculture, urbanization and income growth’, World Development 31: 13431366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
UN (2007), The Millennium Development Goals Report 2007, New York: United Nations.Google Scholar
UNEP (2006), Africa Environment Outlook, Division of Early Warning and Assessment, United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi, Kenya.Google ScholarPubMed
UNFCCC (2006), ‘Impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in Africa’, United Nations Framework for Climate Change Convention, Accra, Ghana.Google Scholar
UNFCCC (2009), ‘4/CP.15 Methodological guidance for activities relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries’, United Nations Framework for Climate Change Convention, Copenhagen.Google Scholar
UNFPA (2007), ‘State of world population 2007: unleashing the potential of urban growth’, Geneva: United Nations Population Fund.Google Scholar
van der Werf, G.R., Randerson, J.T., Giglio, L., Collatz, G.J., Kasibhatla, P.S., and Arellano, A.F Jr. (2006), ‘Interannual variability in global biomass burning emissions from 1997 to 2004’, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 6: 34233441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Williams, P., Hanan, N.P., Neff, J.C., Scholes, R.J., Berry, J.A., Denning, A.S., and Baker, D.F. (2007), ‘Africa and the global carbon cycle’, Carbon Balance and Management 2: 113.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
World Bank (2008), ‘The agenda for agriculture-based countries of sub-Saharan Africa’, Agriculture for Development Policy Brief, The World Bank, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
Zianis, D., Muukkonen, P., Mäkipää, R., and Mencuccini, M. (2005), ‘Biomass and stem volume equations for tree species in Europe’, Silva Fennica Monographs 4: 163.Google Scholar
Supplementary material: PDF

Henry Supplementary Appendix

Henry Supplementary Appendix

Download Henry Supplementary Appendix(PDF)
PDF 100 KB
Cited by

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Implementation of REDD+ in sub-Saharan Africa: state of knowledge, challenges and opportunities
Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Implementation of REDD+ in sub-Saharan Africa: state of knowledge, challenges and opportunities
Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Implementation of REDD+ in sub-Saharan Africa: state of knowledge, challenges and opportunities
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *