The Paris Agreement stresses the importance of the land use sector and many countries have included land use sector targets in their nationally determined contributions (NDCs). They will need to account for emissions and removals from the sector in a manner that promotes transparency, accuracy, completeness, comparability and consistency. Stakeholders involved have therefore called for "independent monitoring” (IM) approaches, i.e. authoritative, unbiased sources of information that they could rely on for their specific needs. More and more datasets and portals that serve these needs have recently emerged (e.g. Global Forest Watch, OpenForis). A stakeholder survey was carried out to identify the level of satisfaction with existing datasets and portals. These were also assessed in a SWORG analysis. We identified common misunderstandings and challenges, such as technical data issues, difficulties regarding data use and interpretation and issues of access and capacities. There is also a lack of awareness and capacities to use IM approaches. In four case studies we illustrate possible pathways to overcome these challenges. We present key elements that are considered to be essential for effective use of IM approaches for land use sector MRV. Bringing the assessment of user needs, opportunities for existing approaches and identification of gaps together, we formulate concrete recommendations for specific stakeholder groups, including data providers and users.