Assisted Natural Regeneration Monitoring, Reporting and Verification Protocol

Many of our TerraFund partners may include Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) in their land restoration work. We have provided additional reporting guidance for projects that use ANR techniques.

In order to understand the impact of this work, our partners will be asked to provide additional information about the activities that do not involve direct tree planting, in addition to the standard reporting requirements.


One of the main biophysical indicators that TerraFund monitors through project-reported data is the number of trees planted. This indicator does not apply to many ANR projects that are using other approaches to grow and restore trees besides planting. Monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) of ANR therefore requires a tailored approach.

The guidance in this article applies to projects using ANR to grow approximately 10% or more of the trees they are restoring through TerraFund.

The portfolio of TerraFund projects includes some projects that are restoring trees using ANR almost exclusively, and not planting trees directly. Most TerraFund projects using ANR are also planting trees. For the small number of projects exclusively using ANR, TerraFund does not measure the number of trees planted, since this indicator is not applicable. Instead, we measure progress through a site visit in year 1 to collect baseline information and confirm ANR activities, measuring of change in Total Tree Cover (TTC) in Year 3, verifying the number of trees restored in year 6, and collecting updates on ANR interventions every six months.

For projects that are using a combination of tree planting and ANR to restore trees, we monitor the number of trees planted and progress implementing ANR interventions using the protocol described in this document.

How we define ANR

Assisted natural regeneration is an approach to restoring land and supporting the recovery of vegetation by eliminating threats (i.e. grazing, fire, invasive plants) that prevent natural regrowth from seeds and roots already present in the soil or from natural seed dispersal from nearby trees. This definition excludes any tree planting. Many projects will use ANR and will also plant trees directly. These projects report on planted trees the same way that non-ANR projects report on planted trees. 

Assisted natural regeneration includes the following interventions within the landscape:

  • Physical fencing
  • Social fencing (including patrols and surveillance agreed among community members)
  • Cattle management (including removing cattle and controlling access to pastures)
  • Invasive and/or exotic species control (including the removal of grasses and selective weeding)
  • Pest control
  • Maintenance of regenerating individuals (including thinning, pruning, and other forms of protection for regenerating plants)
  • Fire protection (including installing firebreaks)
  • Removal of invasive or other undesirable species

How we monitor restoration through ANR

TerraFund’s approach to monitoring ANR entails the following components:

Identify which projects are practicing ANR and their restoration goals during project establishment. Projects are asked to share whether they are implementing ANR in their applications, and, if selected, are asked to provide the approximate percentage of their expected project area that will be naturally regenerated. They are then tagged as “ANR projects” if this percentage exceeds 10%.[1] This information is taken into consideration when TerraFund project managers and MRV team review reports and assess progress.

Projects are also asked to provide targets for the following before they sign their contracts: total number of trees to be planted over the course of the project, total number of trees to be naturally regenerated over the course of the project, and a total number of trees to be restored after 6 years, which is the total number of planted trees expected to survive plus the total number of trees to be naturally regenerated. To determine a target number of hectares to be restored, projects can simply estimate the total hectares based on the amount of land they are doing restoration work on, regardless of whether they are using ANR or direct tree planting to restore that land.    

Conduct field verification and remote sensing methods, as appropriate, to monitor progress against the following indicators:

    • Number of trees under restoration
    • Number of trees restored
    • Number of hectares under restoration

These remote sensing methods, supplemented with field verification as needed, are the same methods used to monitor planted trees.

For projects that are exclusively using ANR to restore trees, we do not collect data towards the indicator Number of trees planted because tree planting is not included in our definition of ANR. 

Collect narrative information in project reports, where champions can share information about the ANR practices they are implementing and the progress they are observing. Restoration champions provide this information every six months in their project reports.

Collect photos from restoration champions that demonstrate their ANR practices and changes in their restoration sites. We ask champions to provide at least 5 photos each reporting period, including at least one photo of each ANR practice being implemented.

How champions report on ANR in their site reports

Projects that use ANR exclusively to restore a TerraFund site and do not do any tree planting or direct seeding:

  • Answer “0” to the number of trees that they have grown in the past 6 months on that site.

Projects that use ANR partially to restore a TerraFund site, but are also planting trees or applying direct seeding:

  • Indicate only the number of trees that they have planted on the site, broken down approximately by species. That number will not include any of the newly regenerating trees through ANR.

All projects employing ANR, exclusively or partially:

  • Answer the following questions:
    • What assisted natural regeneration practices are you implementing on this site?
    • What markers of progress have you seen in this reporting period (for example, fencing has been effective at preventing encroachment; reduced presence of invasive species have been observed in intervention areas). Please be as specific as possible.
  • Submit at least 5 photos on each relevant site report in line with the following guidance:
    • At least one photo of each ANR practice being implemented as evidence of the “assistance” conducted on the site in the past 6 months, e.g., new fences constructed, pollarding, construction of fire breaks.
    • In total, champions are requested to submit at least 5 photos showing their ANR progress with each site report.
  • Optional: Champions are invited to share any additional information specific to their ANR practices as part of their narrative updates in their project report

How TerraFund confirms ANR projects are on track

Report Quality Assessment: When Project Manager review project reports for ANR projects, they will have the option to mark whether a project is on track or not.

    • If a project has satisfactorily followed the reporting requirements outlined above, specifically by reporting on the ANR practices they are implementing and by providing required photos, the Project Manager marks the project as “on track.”
    • This approach ensures that we are capturing progress of projects regardless of whether they are using tree planting or ANR as their primary approach to restoring trees, and that ANR projects are not considered off track based on low tree planting numbers or the absence of tree planting.
    • A project will be considered “off track,” however, if they have not provided the information required in their report.

Tropical Tree Cover Analysis: To supplement reported information on progress, WRI will analyze TTC data for all projects at baseline, mid-line in Year 3, and end-line in Year 6. Year 3 TTC analysis provides an indicator of progress for ANR projects before total trees restored is verified in Year 6. 

How TerraFund verifies trees restored through ANR

TerraFund will use remote sensing methods and field verification to verify trees under restoration through ANR. If a project is open canopy (with <40% tree cover) at baseline, remote sensing methods will be used, and if a project is closed canopy (≥40% tree cover) at baseline, field-based methods will be used to collect baseline information at the beginning of the project. The same approach used at baseline will be repeated to collect tree count data in year six of a project. Third-party organizations will conduct field verification.

Champions may be asked to support verification efforts, for example, by providing required information on site locations to these third-party organizations but will not be responsible for field verification themselves. Information about sampling techniques, project selection, and other details about verification are outlined in TerraFund’s tree verification protocol.

Within six months of the conclusion of the first planting season, TerraFund will conduct a project management site visit to every ANR project to confirm that ANR interventions are being implemented and collect baseline information for closed canopy projects requiring field verification.


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