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Projects : Lowering Emissions in Asia’s Forests (LEAF) Program




Forests cover 26 percent of Asia-Pacific land area and provide a wide array of socioeconomic and environmental benefits to millions of people.  Trees are also one of nature’s most effective ways of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing carbon.  Yet despite the many benefits they offer, more than one million hectares of Asia’s forests, or nearly 1 percent, continue to be lost annually. Forest degradation resulting from unsustainable logging, changes in climate and devastating fire causes further greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and together with deforestation is a major contributor to global climate change. 

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has long recognized the economic, environmental and community level benefits that Asia’s forests provide and is constantly seeking new ways to encourage better forest management. One way forward centers around Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+), an international strategy that seeks to provide funding for protecting forests while contributing to global efforts to address climate change.

Implemented by Winrock International, Climate Focus and SNV, the Lowering Emissions in Asia's Forests (LEAF) program is a five year, $20 million dollar program aimed at building technical capacity for REDD+. The program also focuses on improving policies and establishing market incentives for improved forest management, developing sub-national interventions, and strengthening regional mechanisms for sharing lessons learned.

Regional Approach

The Program employs a regional approach to meet its goals by supporting sub-national interventions in six countries (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Malaysia) and sharing lessons learned and best practices to scale-up innovation in six other countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Nepal and the Philippines). LEAF’s program activities are designed around four primary objectives:

1. Replicate and scale-up innovation through regional platforms and partnerships,

2. Assist in the development of policy and market incentives for GHG reductions,

3. Build and institutionalize technical capacity for economic valuation of forest ecosystem services and monitoring changes in forest carbon stocks, and

4. Demonstrate innovation in sustainable land management.

This regional approach allows the involved countries to learn from each other and from the project’s activities while working to enhance forest carbon storage.  Through these efforts, LEAF assists in supporting national preparations for future implementation of an international REDD+ framework.


Replicating success through regional platforms and partnerships.  LEAF helps the six core countries identify the most economical and effective ways to manage their land and forests and works through regional partnerships to replicate successful approaches and develop standards and protocols. In addition, the program emphasizes strengthening national and provincial government agencies as key entities in sustaining momentum on forest and land management issues.

Improving policies, establishing incentives for GHG reductions. One of LEAF’s goals is to improve policies, laws and regulations that govern forest and land use in order to achieve long-term emissions reductions.  Supported by expertise in climate and forestry policy, Climate Focus works within LEAF to support governments to develop institutional frameworks that are supportive of REDD+.  Climate Focus is also working to encourage forestry sector emissions reduction through market incentives that reward local communities and private sector companies for managing forests responsibly.  

Monitoring forest carbonConsiderable scientific and technical ability is required to monitor changes in forest cover and assess the amount of carbon a forest contains. LEAF works to strengthen each country’s technical capacity through REDD+ related training and the development of educational curricula on climate change and REDD+ issues.

Using pilot projects to demonstrate innovation.  Many a good idea has failed to deliver results when put to the test.  USAID specifically designed the LEAF program around pilot projects to demonstrate the effectiveness of different approaches to low carbon development, to inform policies and ultimately to provide more effective support national REDD+ processes across the target countries.


Within the LEAF Program, Climate Focus works along SNV, The Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC) and Winrock International, the lead implementing partner and a world leader in forest carbon and ecosystem science.  SNV–Netherlands Development Organization contributes to the partnership its expertise in community forestry, rural development, and local renewable energy.  The Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC) is recognized for its leadership in training and capacity building related to forestry and climate change. 

To learn more about the LEAF Program, please visit us on Facebook and Twitter, and at

Or contact Jeremy Broadhead at





LEAF Program Update - November, 2013

On November 29, over 100 delegates from government departments, international donors and provinces implementing REDD+ gathered in Hanoi for the “National Consultation Workshop on the Third Draft Proposal on Establishment of a Viet Nam REDD+ Fund.”

The consultation was organized by the Viet Nam Administration of Forestry (VNFOREST) with support from the USAID-funded Lowering Emissions in Asia’s Forests (LEAF) program and UN-REDD. Charlotte Streck gave a presentation on REDD+ funding in general terms and presented a number of proposals for the structure and legal form of national REDD+ funds. Participants discussed the need for a national REDD+ fund in Viet Nam, how such a fund should be structured and managed, and potential funding sources. Ways to increase private sector engagement by using REDD+ funds to underwrite risk related to private sector emissions reduction investments were also highlighted. The consultation concluded with a request from the Vietnamese Government for international support to integrate donor and UNFCCC-related requirements into the REDD+ Fund proposal, including financial and fiduciary standards and safeguards. LEAF will continue to support this process, aiming to establish a successful national REDD+ Fund in Viet Nam in 2014.


DECISION SUPPORT TOOL Integrated REDD+ accounting frameworks: Nested national approaches is now available - May 2013

A decision support tool on integrated REDD+ accounting frameworks was recently completed.  The tool aims to guide countries on the design and establishment of national-level REDD+ accounting frameworks with emphasis on the integration of subnational and project-level REDD+ activities into the national framework.  The decision tool is available here on the LEAF website.


LEAF Reference Level (RL) Training Materials now available online in English & Vietnamese - February 2013

These materials were developed through LEAF’s technical Reference Level (RL) training, held in Vietnam and Laos in November and December of 2012. The training introduced participants, many for the first time, to the technical steps and types of data required for RL creation to measure avoided Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from the forestry and land use sector. These training materials include an overview of REDD+ and RLs, and detailed coverage of RL development planning and historical emissions analysis. They also cover key policy decisions required for REDD+ framework development, including whether to implement REDD+ at a subnational scale during an interim period. These trainings are part of LEAF's commitment to building technical capacity across the region for monitoring changes in forest carbon stocks, to ultimately contribute to Provincial RLs, and maximize subnational climate finance benefits.

All materials can be accessed here through the LEAF website.

LEAF Program featured in "Students with Solutions 2012" Mobile Application Contest

The LEAF Program is one of three programs participating in USAID’s first-ever mobile technology application design contest, "Students with Solutions 2012."  The goal of the contest is to enlist Thailand’s talented university students in developing innovative mobile technology to address local development challenges in Thailand or Southeast Asia.  Mobile application submissions can address any aspect of encouraging better forest management.

The event was launched at King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT) in Bangkok in June 2012.  In August it was announced that three of the six finalist teams were working on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) related mobile designs.  The contest will culminate when these teams present a functioning prototype of their mobile application to a panel of judges at an event in October 2012.


LEAF Program Update - November, 2011

The Climate Focus LEAF team assessed the policy and institutional setting for REDD+ and forest management in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Papua New Guinea, Thailand and Vietnam and submitted the final assessment report to USAID on October 31. The report provides an overview of national REDD+ readiness in each country and reviews Government priorities and main areas of work with regards to REDD+.





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