Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and the role of conservation, sustainable forest management and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+) in developing countries requires a National REDD+ Strategy (NRS) to ensure effectiveness, efficiency and equity. So far, only a few countries have submitted their NRS to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to progress to the implementation phase of REDD+. To compare the NRS of eight countries from Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, we used content analysis to assess whether these countries have paid attention to the REDD+ design components and adhered to the UNFCCC REDD+ rules. Our results demonstrate that all eight countries have paid considerable attention to REDD+ activities, finance, measurement, reporting and verification (MRV), and safeguard systems, and most countries have not adhered to the UNFCCC REDD+ rules on scale including the definition of national and subnational forests, subnational projects to be nested into national systems, and subnational activities to be verified by experts. REDD+ countries must develop definitions for national and subnational forests to enhance forest monitoring and they must develop technical and institutional infrastructure for MRV and safeguard systems, to receive results-based payments, and for the sustainability of REDD+ projects.
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