Information Management and Forest Governance

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Information technology and management in forest governance -- innovations for improved forestry outcomes

CHALLENGE
Improving forest governance and reducing forest crime requires reforms in several fields: legislative framework, public institutions, private sector operations, civil society participation to name a few. Many countries have reformed their forest legislation and institutions. It is essential to recognize that in order to actually achieve improved forest outcomes, reforms need to be both planned properly and implemented effectively at all levels.

Modern information technology, including remote sensing and field level applications, has in many fields proved its value in promoting good, transparent and equitable governance. It is also required to ensure sustained implementation of reforms. Some countries have introduced systems, for example, to better track log sales and timber flows, use remote sensing technologies to track encroachment, and engage with local communities with mobile applications. In many cases, the role of ICTs in the forest sector has been limited to providing information to the state on ‘how much forest is there’, and how to manage the resource.
 
However, information management is not only about new technologies. Efficient dissemination of forest-related information can also be done through more traditional media if properly planned. Whatever the technology chosen, improving information management is an essential part of forest governance reforms.

APPROACH
To address these challenges, the World Bank's Forests Team, supported by PROFOR, prepared a study on information technology and management in forest governance. It built on the framework developed in Building Blocks for Good Forest Outcomes: An Analytical Framework for Governance Reforms (2009).

RESULTS
The resulting study, titled Forest Governance 2.0: A Primer on ICTs and Governance, explores a whole range of uses of ICTs, including increasing public participation and improving law enforcement and economic efficiency, to improve governance in the sector.  It draws on current and planned initiatives, both from within the sector as well as outside, from secondary sources and country reports from Finland, Ghana and Uganda.  The technologies explored range from simple (mobile phone and radio) to more hi-tech (LiDAR) applications. The emphasis is on simple, low cost tools that will spur the demand and supply of good governance by increasing the engagement of key stakeholders in the process.

MAIN FINDINGS

  • If planned properly, both mobile and Internet applications can be developed to improve various aspects of governance.
  • ICTs work well for some aspects of governance, but their use has to be linked with institutional demand and systematic need assessment of governance needs.
  • The report identifies 10 principles that are key when developing ICT interventions for forest governance.