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Full Toolkit

Lao PDR study

Nepal study

Indonesian Papua study

Guinea study

Tanzania study

Synthesis of six case studies


The toolkit had multiple authors including Gill Shepherd and Jill Blockhus. Experts from CIFOR, IUCN, ODI, PROFOR, Winrock International and the World Bank contributed to this work.

Poverty-Forests Linkages Toolkit


An estimated 1.2 billion people rely on forests for some part of their livelihoods. However, the importance of forests is often overlooked in national development processes such as poverty reduction strategies due to inadequate evidence documenting how forests sustain the poor.

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Poverty-Forests Linkages Toolkit by PROFOR (Program on Forests) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be obtained by emailing


To build better knowledge on this critical relationship, PROFOR developed a “Poverty-Forests Linkages Toolkit” to facilitate relevant data collection and analysis. The Toolkit was created in partnership with CIFOR, IUCN, ODI, and Winrock International, on the basis of case studies in Guinea, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Nepal, and Tanzania. 

The first draft of the Toolkit was completed in April 2007, and was based on piloting and field testing in three different locations in Indonesian Papua (highlands, lowlands and a mangrove area) and in Tanzania. A consortium of national level organizations led by the International Institute for Economic Development and the Center for International Development and Training carried out further pilots of the Toolkit in four African countries - Cameroon, Ghana, Madagascar and Uganda.


What the Poverty-Forest Linkages Toolkit Includes

  • A set of rapid appraisal methods to gather information on economic as well as other contributions from forests to households, especially the poor;
  • Methods for analyzing field data for the potential role of forests in reducing poverty and vulnerability and policy options for improving the contribution of forests to rural livelihoods;
  • Suggestions for how to frame the results so as to be relevant to the planners, government agencies and other institutions and organizations, at both local and national levels;
  • An explanation of the PRSP process and identification of the strategies and skills needed for influencing the PRSP process (including potential entry points for forestry); and
  • A Field Manual to support training and capacity building for local government forest officials, collection of information to understand forest dependence locally and hands-on application of participatory assessment tools

Field Tools and their Purpose

Tool 1

Wealth Ranking

Purpose: Understand how poor househoulds use and depend on forest resources

Tool 2

Local Landscape Situation Analysis

Purpose: Understand how villagers use local resources

Tool 3

Timeline and Trends

Purpose: Record changes in forest resources agriculture, local livelihood strategies and income

Tool 4

Livelihoods Analysis

Aim: Determine subsistence reliance on forests and the annual income from forests

Tool 5

Forests Problem and Solution Matrix

Purpose: Identify and rank forest problems and suggest solutions

Tool 6

Trees and Forest Products Importance

Purpose: Rank forest products by importance for cash or subsistence use

Tool 7

Millennium Development Goals Chart

Purpose: to show the contribution of forests to the achievement of the MDGs

Tool 8

Monetary Values

Purpose: To express the contribution of forestry in monetary terms


  • After piloting was completed in 2008, PROFOR developed a field-compatible version of the toolkit and started providing training in its use. Over 50 World Bank staff and external participants were trained during the World Bank’s annual Sustainable Development Network Forum in March 2009. The toolkit was also disseminated at the XIII World Forestry Congress in October 2009. The training of a dozen National Forest Programme Facility coaches at FAO in February 2010 concluded PROFOR’s direct engagement with the toolkit and transferred product and skills to the NFP Facility for roll out in their country activities.
  • IUCN has used the toolkit extensively in its Livelihoods and Landscapes Strategy program, which is active in 23 countries. Using the toolkit, IUCN has extracted new information on the importance of cash and non-cash forest income for forest-dependent people.
  • New needs are also arising from the REDD+ process as countries struggle to understand the link between livelihoods and depdendence on forest resources. 

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Author : The toolkit had multiple authors including Gill Shepherd and Jill Blockhus. Experts from CIFOR, IUCN, ODI, PROFOR, Winrock International and the World Bank contributed to this work.
Last Updated : 09-25-2017

Food and forests: We can have them both

Agriculture provides most of the world’s food. It also contributes the most to global deforestation. This does not mean, however, that we need to choose between feeding a rapidly growing population and protecting the forests that are so essential to our wellbeing.

While many countries have first depleted their forests before seeing a rebound in tree cover, this “business-as-usual” scenario is not inevitable. But changing it does require a paradigm shift. In part, it means redefining what “successful” pathways to sustainable development look like, so that they resonate with local leaders and reflect local realities – and thus gain political support. In addition, transitioning away from the status quo depends on forming new and creative partnerships between companies, communities, governments, and investors.

How to bring about this new food-and-forest paradigm? An ongoing study - funded by the Program on Forests (PROFOR) and led by the World Bank's Agriculture and Environment Global Practices along with experts from many agricultural and environmental organizations - is trying to find concrete answers. The team is focusing on six agricultural commodities: three that are heavily implicated in deforestation activities (palm oil, soy and beef), and three that could include planting trees in their cultivation (cocoa, coffee and shea butter). In an initial synthesis study, the researchers draw out some key lessons for removing deforestation from agricultural supply chains sooner rather than later, and for increasing the planting of trees in agricultural lands. Here are just six of their takeaways:       

  1. Success starts with the farmer. There are many agricultural practices which, if implemented at scale, can benefit crop yields while slowing deforestation or increasing tree cover. Not only must farmers be fully equipped with this information, but they should be consulted and supported in making the transition to sustainable production systems.

  2. It is important to recognize and reward innovators. A system based entirely on punishing those who contribute to deforestation is unlikely to be effective in the long run. A more promising approach is to reward farmers who use creative, forest-friendly practices, while widely promoting the monetary and ecosystem benefits of these methods.    

  3. Corporations’ sustainability pledges are important but not sufficient. A new and promising trend is the emergence of technical, commercial, and financial partnerships between companies, farmers, communities, and regional authorities.   

  4. Government policies and programs need to be updated. In many cases, existing regulations prevent farmers from harvesting and marketing trees, deterring them from planting trees in agricultural landscapes. Ministries of agriculture and of environment need to work together to revise these legal frameworks so that farmers can sustainably grow and harvest trees on their lands.

  5. Regional action is critical. Efforts to combat deforestation in the agricultural sector sometimes fail because supply chains transcend national boundaries. Large-scale transformation is possible, but it needs to be backed-up by multi-stakeholder processes that lay out a shared vision for a region.

  6. The costs of forest loss need to be communicated more clearly. Forest conservation is often viewed through the lens of foregone agricultural profits. Governments should do a better job of communicating why forests are so crucial. For instance, improved management of shea trees in Sahelian countries could strengthen economic returns and ecological stability, with possible knock-on benefits like sustained income generation, jobs for women and youth, and lower incidence of conflict and migration induced by poor access to natural resources.

Initial findings from the synthesis study, “Leveraging agricultural value chains to enhance tropical tree cover and slow deforestation (LEAVES),” will be shared at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF): The Investment Case in Washington, D.C. on May 30th. Its authors hope to start building momentum for their new approach to productive and sustainable agriculture.  

“Although the private sector has been the main driver behind sustainability initiatives like Brazil’s Soy Moratorium and Cattle Agreement, support from the World Bank was instrumental,” said Dora Nsuwa Cudjoe, Senior Environmental Specialist, and Co-Task Team Leader of the LEAVES knowledge product at the World Bank. “The Bank can show the same level of engagement in the agroforestry commodities like coffee, cocoa, and shea, to help scale up private sector efforts. The opportunity is here.”


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Last Updated : 08-21-2018

Promoting green growth in Colombia: The potential for commercial reforestation

For a forest-rich country, Colombia faces a surprising economic dilemma. More than half of the country is covered by forest, and yet the growing demand for wood products is being supplied by imports – not local industry.

While the construction sector – the largest consumer of wood in Colombia – has grown by an impressive 7 percent between 2005 and 2014, the contribution of the forestry sector to national GDP has actually fallen over this time period, from 1.4 percent to 1.1 percent. Meanwhile, Colombian exports of wood products have stagnated around 3 percent of national production. Based on projections of future demand, this supply gap will only widen: by 2030, Colombian markets will need 4 million m3 more in raw wood materials than it currently produces domestically.[i]

These numbers suggest that Colombia is missing out on a significant investment opportunity, according to a new report commissioned by the Government of Colombia and the World Bank, with support from the Program on Forests (PROFOR).

The study finds that Colombia could not only use its own resources to meet all local demand for wood products, but also supply international markets, which are also on the rise: global demand for timber, pulp and paper products could quadruple by 2050.

Such an expansion would require an ambitious export scenario, where Colombia increases its commercial forest plantations by 464,000 hectares, but is well within the realm of possibility. According to recent land classifications, Colombia has 24.8 million hectares of land suitable for commercial reforestation, of which 30 percent (7.3 million hectares) are considered highly suitable.[1] Eventually, the gross production value of Colombia’s forestry sector could be as high as 12 trillion Colombian Pesos (over 4 billion USD), while creating 35,000 permanent jobs in forest plantations and industries.

“Colombia has broad potential for developing commercial reforestation programs, given its excellent conditions for tree growth, as well as its strategic geographic location for foreign trade and numerous free trade agreements,” said Karin Kemper, World Bank senior director for the Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) Global Practice, at the official launch of the report in Bogotá, Colombia. “This effort would not only have important economic and social impacts by creating jobs and reducing poverty in the countryside, but also play a significant role in mitigation and adaptation to climate change.”

Indeed, commercial reforestation could contribute to Colombia’s pledge of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 20-30 percent – a promise that the government takes seriously. "Colombia is committed to policies and tax reforms that help us successfully implement the Paris Agreement, as evidenced by the structural tax reform approved last year," confirmed Minister of Finance Mauricio Cárdenas.

"This report is fundamental in the context of transforming rural areas and the Colombian Government’s Green growth strategy,” said Silvia Calderón, director for environment at Colombia’s National Planning Department, in separate remarks. “Its recommendations will contribute to the sustainable use of natural resources and to the development of the forest economy."

Given Colombia’s high level of political support for green growth policies, what will it take, in practice, to fulfill the potential of the country’s forestry sector? The report lays out detailed recommendations for increasing the productivity of commercial forest plantations and the governance structure around them, as well as improving the competitiveness of Colombian wood processing industries in domestic and international markets.

“By providing very realistic and concrete recommendations, with set targets and timelines, we hope this report can guide the Colombian government in making the most of its exceptional forest resources, while also helping to protect natural forests that might otherwise be threatened by the growing demand for wood products,” said Franka Braun, World Bank senior carbon finance specialist. “Colombia has already expressed interest in commercial reforestation investments in the Orinoquía region, so this initiative is off to a promising start.”

[1] Unidad de PlanificaciĂłn Rural Agropecuaria (UPRA) 2014: ZonificaciĂłn para plantaciones forestales con fines comerciales a escala 1:100,000,

[i] As measured in m3 of roundwood equivalents, defined as the volume of small logs typically used in the manufacture of wood-based products like wood pulp, paper, furniture and plywood.

Photo: Santiago Restrepo Calle/

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Last Updated : 05-31-2018

Enhancing Capacity for Livelihoods Development in the Tonlé Sap and Cardamom Mountains Landscape in Cambodia


Over the last two decades, Cambodia achieved remarkable economic growth and graduated from a low- to a lower middle-income country. This growth has largely been driven by the country’s rich and diverse natural capital, which supports the livelihoods of millions of Cambodians but is rapidly being degraded from unsustainable use. For instance, agriculture - which is heavily dependent on natural resources and ecosystem services - contributed to 30 percent of GDP in 2015, and the livelihoods of more than five million people. However, according to official estimates, forest cover declined by 21 percent between 2006 and 2014, mainly due to the conversion of forests to agriculture or rubber plantations within economic land concessions.

To counter the rapid decline in forest area, the Royal Government of Cambodia has adopted several policies, strategies and plans to encourage improved forest use and protection. While these changes are positive, many institutional, information and investment challenges remain. In particular, more comprehensive cost-benefit analyses are needed to assess potential investments in sustainable livelihoods and ecosystem services. In addition, implementation of an integrated landscapes approach to forest programming requires strengthening institutional capacities at the national and subnational levels, as well as improving information and decision-support systems.


The key components of this activity will be:

  1. The development a national forest monitoring system. Efforts will be made to coordinate with complementary efforts by other development partners and NGOs, to bring together maps and data on forestry, land use, biodiversity, ecosystems, water resources, and soil conditions, to effectively inform decision-making at the local levels. Spatial mapping platforms and GIS resources will be used to compile an interface for informing suitable and sustainable livelihoods and projecting impacts from climate change and economic development. 
  2. Carrying out an institutional development needs assessment, at the national and sub-national levels. It will include the identification of implementation needs for operationalizing the government’s new “corridors approach” for the integrated management of forest landscapes, as well as for anticipated reforms to the environmental code and the framework on the co-management of forests and natural resources.
  3. Undertake an options assessment of investments in sustainable livelihoods and natural assets. This will help determine the various livelihoods options that could be implemented to build community resilience, protect natural resource assets, and promote a sustained and green growth pathway in the Tonle Sap watersheds and Cardamom Mountains landscapes. The PROFOR Forest Poverty Toolkit will be applied, building additional layers of detail specific to Cambodia, including through by using key informant interviews and focus group discussions. Based on these findings, policy recommendations will be generated on the way forward for landscape-level planning, programming, and investment typologies.


Knowledge from this activity, specifically the ecosystem’s assessment and ecotourism analysis, has provided inputs to the Cambodia Sustainable Landscape and Ecotourism project influencing the identification of priority areas for restoration, and sites for ecotourism development. The use of the information to inform investments reflects the government’s understanding of the use and value of such information, and their push for decision-making on natural resources management that is underpinned by science and analytics.

This activity is ongoing. More findings will be shared on this page when they become available.

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Last Updated : 05-05-2019

Sustainable landscape management for improved livelihoods in the Middle East and North Africa

Program Summary

This PROFOR activity aims to build the necessary evidence base and rationale for developing a regional and harmonized program on landscape restoration and sustainable management in the arid, semi-arid, and desert areas of sub-Saharan Africa, the Maghreb, and the Mashreq.


In MENA and sub-Saharan African countries, there is a growing awareness of the important social, economic and environmental roles played by forests, rangelands, and oasis landscapes. All of these ecosystems face threats from agricultural expansion and increasing demand for food, fiber, fuel, and minerals, as well as misguided agricultural policies.

There is also growing evidence of significant negative externalities from landscape degradation - including the impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss, air pollution, soil erosion, rural poverty, and migration. These issues are gaining political attention at the global, regional, and national levels, but while several initiatives have been launched to combat landscape degradation and strengthen resilience to climate change, more transformative investment is needed.


This activity will first review existing literature on the extent, impact, and economic costs of land degradation and desertification over the last couple of decades in MENA and Sub-Saharan African countries.

Subsequently, the team will assess progress made by national and regional restoration programs, and identify the primary barriers to furthering that progress using PROFOR’s PRIME framework. Other land restoration programs will be evaluated for lessons learned and applicability to the targeted regions, including experiences from China (e.g. the Green Wall Initiative) and the United States (e.g. actions taken to combat the Dust Bowl phenomenon).

Based on this analysis, this activity will explore how the World Bank can best leverage its convening power to bring together (and finance) restoration initiatives. An economic feasibility study will be carried out, looking at the potential for a regional program on landscape restoration and sustainable management.


A draft report reviewing existing literature on the extent of land degradation and desertification over the last couple of decades in the MENA and the neighbouring Sahelian and dryland countries in Africa was completed.

The analysis found that the MENA region experienced a 40 percent decrease in vegetation over the past two decades, with some countries experiencing a very significant decline.  Ecosystem service losses from land degradation are about four times the global average, about 5,600 USD per person or about 300,000 USD per sq km in MENA and agricultural yield losses account for approximately 0.95 percent of GDP in MENA. The drivers of degradation are mainly poor land management but also climatic conditions to which farmers must adapt. Using the PRIME framework as a base tool, the review will continue to identify constraints to better land management and identify best practices that can be replicated elsewhere.

A household survey for the Integrated-Landscape Management project in Tunisia is ongoing. It will act as a baseline ground-truthing effort to add evidence of what is working among beneficiaries and how this is affecting their livelihoods.  It may also help guide any adjustments to be made on targeting beneficiaries, and in particular the strengthening of value chains, and participation of women. These lessons will be distilled and shared in workshops and with policymakers from other MENA countries who are considering similar land restoration programs.

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Last Updated : 05-04-2019


Paraguay conservation of the atlantic forest corridors and landscapes for biodiversity and local livelihoods


The Atlantic Forests in Eastern Paraguay have been largely destroyed, with only 15% remaining in protected areas, farmland, indigenous communities’ communal land and private reserves.  This remaining forest is under increasing pressure from a variety of forces, including the expansion of intensive agriculture (soy plantations), use of forest biomass as a cheap energy source (by the agroindustry and rural communities) and subsistence agriculture. The current forces affecting the Paraguayan’s landscapes are likely to increase the rate of deforestation and forest degradation in the country, affecting biodiversity, food and energy sources, and likelihoods of local communities and indigenous peoples.


This project will allow to follow-up on the results and lessons learned from the GEF Project Conservation of Biodiversity and Sustainable Land Management in the Atlantic Forest of Eastern Paraguay (P0944335), which has successfully implemented a large number of restoration and reforestation projects with small farmers and indigenous communities from about 200 communities and 55 municipalities in the Atlantic Forest Corridor. This activity will also maintain the on-going policy dialogue on forest restoration and governance with the Government of Paraguay, ITAIPU, the National Forestry Institute (INFONA) and National Indigenous People Institute (INDI).

The main elements of this activity are as follows:

1. Paraguay Atlantic Forest Corridor Threat Assessment. Analyses and evaluation of current and projected trends causing the deforestation in two biodiversity rich areas of the Atlantic Forest Biodiversity Corridor. Such analysis will build on the latest technical studies and those prepared under the Paraguay Biodiversity Project, and information in land use change in forest target areas for biodiversity conservation and livelihoods of local communities (indigenous and rural farmers); analysis of the benefits of forest services and forest restoration to reduce poverty and conserve biodiversity, current forest governance issues and application of forest regulations in the area.

2. Corridor Dialogues.  With the results of the in-depth assessment, this activity will provide support to the Ministry of Environment, INFONA (Forestry National Agency) and ITAIPU to engage in a series of Corridor Dialogues with key indigenous communities’ leaders, forest sector authorities, policymakers and stakeholders across sectors, with the aim of reaching consensus on possible mechanisms to improve forest governance, increase conservation and sustain livelihoods of poor indigenous communities in two key biodiversity areas.

3. Plan for Conservation and Restoration of Two High Biodiversity Areas of the Atlantic Forest Corridor. This will include the development of the roadmap for improving coordination among the different institutions and stakeholders of the Corridor; a report on the possible options and mechanisms to promote restoration with native species of high biodiversity and economic values in target areas of the Atlantic Forest Corridor and for improving local likelihoods of rural and indigenous peoples; and identification of potential instruments for sustainable landscape restoration with the participation of the private sector (agribusiness).  In addition, an investment plan will be developed for reforestation of high biodiversity value areas in the Corridor and to support landscape restoration projects that can support income to local communities and their likelihoods. 

4. Workshops with the participation of indigenous communities, farmers, representatives of the environment and forest sectors, NGOs, national cross-sector policymakers, and others. To date, this activity has carried out three workshops on governance, one dialogue, and five meetings with local stakeholders. More than 100 people have been consulted, of which about one third are women.


This activity is ongoing. Preliminary findings of this activity show that San Rafael, despite the increasing threats and risks over forest land, is still home of biodiversity. The park is home to 427 bird species, which about half of the number for the whole country.  The main risks affecting forest conservation in San Rafael are linked to illegal cutting of precious woods (guatambĂș, lapacho, cedro y laurel) by farmers, external buyer, indigenous communities.  There is an urgent need to improve governance and presence of government officials as currently, legislation enforcement is limited. The use of Environmental Management Plans as part of EIA licenses are some of the instruments used to cut the forest in San Rafael. 

Implementation has been adjusted due to adverse weather as well political events in Paraguay. However, it is likely that this project had a positive influence on the government’s decision to create new legal categories for conservation areas, namely Biological Corridors and Indigenous Peoples’ Reserves.

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Last Updated : 06-09-2019

Understanding the Role of Forests in Supporting Livelihoods and Climate Resilience (and Twin Goals) in the Philippines


Tremendous progress has been made in reducing poverty over the past three decades. Nonetheless, more than 1 billion people worldwide still live in destitution. In addition, rising prosperity in many countries is accompanied by social exclusion and increasing inequality. The post-2015 Development Agenda has thus made reducing poverty its priority. The new World Bank strategy reinforces this objective, aiming to end extreme poverty in a generation and to promote shared prosperity for the bottom 40 percent. These goals will only be achieved if development is managed in an environmentally, socially, and fiscally sustainable manner.

The challenge for development is that the poor are often highly dependent on natural resources, such as forests. Although forests provide ecosystem services and safety nets for the livelihoods of the poor, forests are facing significant pressures from the range of sectors that are critical for economic growth, such as agriculture, transport and energy. Therefore, if sustainably managed, forests could play a significant role in achieving the twin goals of reducing poverty and building climate resilience. However, our understanding of this dual forest-poverty relationship is limited, which this study seeks to address..


This study focuses on the Philippines where, similar to many tropical countries, extensive deforestation and forest degradation have taken place over the last century due to logging, fires and other human disturbances, which are further aggravated by climate change. The country’s total forest cover has declined to merely 6.9 million hectares, or 23% of the total land area.

This study builds on the three primary roles that environmental income plays in supporting rural livelihoods: (i) supporting current consumption; (ii) providing safety nets to smooth income shocks or offset seasonal shortfalls, as well as impacts of climate change; and (iii) providing the opportunity to accumulate assets and exit poverty. Each of these roles is examined further in how they depend on and impact the ecosystem services provided by forests (including the impacts of climate change), and how they can help reduce extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity for the bottom 40%. Three case study sites were examined: the Upper Marikina RIver Basin Protected Landscape (UMRBPL), the Libmanan-Pulantuna Watershed (LPW), and the Umayam, Minor and Agusan Marsh Sub-basin (UMAM).


The final report Understanding the Role of Forests in Supporting Livelihoods and Climate Resilience is available at left. The overarching message of the study is that forests are relevant to climate resilience. Key findings include:
Water provisioning and regulating services:
  • Higher forest cover generates higher water yields during the driest months of the year. 
  • If the water regulating services provided by forests were to be replaced by delivered water, the expected costs would be USD 419-1,064 per household per year, depending on the study site. These costs will be prohibitive to most households in the study sites as the majority subsist below the poverty line.
  • Compared to a “no forest” scenario, forest reduce the volume of floodwater by 27% to 47% during the three wettest months of the year.  Forests on steep slopes (>30%) help mitigate the risk of erosion by 68% to 99% per hectare, and have the potential to reduce annual sediment outflows from watersheds by 7 to 100 times compared to bare soil. 
  • Replacing erosion and sediment control services with manmade control measures will cost billions of pesos. Reforestation is a lower-cost alternative to securing erosion regulation ecosystem services over the medium term.
  • Water was cited by poor upland communities as the most important subsistence benefit from the forest, which they use for domestic purposes and, in some instances, for irrigation. 
Economic and livelihood benefits:
  • Upland communities in UMRBPL reported that about 7% of their annual cash income comes from the sale of forest resources like bamboo products, charcoal, fish, and bush meat. Approximately 40% of their annual income comes from the sale of farm produce grown on forested land.
  • Forests also provide fuelwood and wood for charcoal, which supplies most of the communities’ energy needs.
  • Poorer households in upland communities rely more on forest resources for income and subsistence

The study concludes with a list of recommendations for landscape planning and forest management:

  • Incorporate ecosystem service modeling and valuation, forest use analysis and scenarios in forest land use planning and forest management. 
  • Improve access of upland and forest dwelling communities to forest resources.
  • Enhance the value of forest assets by internalizing non-market values and adding value to the existing sources of income.

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Last Updated : 04-05-2018

Building National-Scale Evidence on the Contribution of Forests to Household Welfare: A Forestry Module for Living Standards Measurement Surveys


Forests and trees in rural landscapes contribute to human wellbeing in a variety of ways.  They provide a range of goods—from fruit to timber, fodder to firewood—and services such as pollination, hydrological regulation, and carbon sequestration that support the livelihoods of millions of people. Despite these contributions and growing recognition of the importance of landscape approaches, forests and trees often remain peripheral in wider development policy discussions. Part of the reason for this marginalization is that developing country decision-makers and planners lack the most basic information about the role and importance of the forestry sector to their national economies. Researchers, advocates, and policymakers alike increasingly recognize that a variety of assets and activities beyond agriculture underpin rural livelihoods, but the picture is incomplete in many circumstances without reliable national-scale data on the contribution of forests and trees.  

Comparative research in a variety of developing country settings demonstrates the important contribution that forests can play in mitigating and reducing poverty (see, e.g., recent PROFOR and CIFOR studies). However, available evidence is primarily site-specific, and it is not clear whether results can be extrapolated to the national level. The absence of national-scale evidence on forests-poverty linkages impedes holistic understanding of the role forests can play in providing pathways out of poverty and the development of policies to achieve sustainable reductions in poverty and inequality. Lack of such data also limits capacity to establish adequate baselines, track changes over time, and assess the impact of forest-related investments on poverty.


This activity will help address this knowledge gap by developing a forestry module and sourcebook on its use in the context of the Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS)LSMS-Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA) and other similar national survey instruments. The objective of this activity is to mainstream the collection of national scale data on the contribution of the forestry sector to household welfare by developing and disseminating the forestry module and sourcebook.  In addition to PROFOR and LSMS, this activity is a collaboration of the FAO Forestry Department, the Poverty and Environment Network (PEN), coordinated by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the International Forestry Resources and Institutions (IFRI) research network, and the University of Copenhagen


The main output of this activity is the sourcebook â€˜â€™National socioeconomic surveys in forestry: guidance and survey modules for measuring the multiple roles of forests in household welfare and livelihoods." Field-testing was successfully carried out in Tanzania (financed by PROFOR) and Indonesia (financed by CIFOR).  Based on the results of these field tests, the module and sourcebook were revised and finalized. The outputs were disseminated at the World Forestry Congress (September 2015) and at the FAO during the International Conference on Agricultural Statistics (October 2016), targeting national statistical agencies, forestry departments, and related agencies.

The original goal of this activity was to mainstream the use of national-scale data on the contribution of forests to household welfare. This work has already contributed to numerous other activities, including on understanding forests’ contribution to poverty reduction; a national survey of about 2,000 households in Turkey as part of the World Bank's dialogue with the government on forest policy; and ongoing forest and poverty work in Armenia and Georgia. In addition, the LSMS-ISA continues pushing for the adoption of the forestry module in different countries, with support from PROFOR. Engagement has started with about 8 countries, with a target of having 3-5 countries using the tool by FY19. A shorter version of the forestry module is also being promoted, so that countries can undertake initial data inquiries to assess whether there is demonstrated need for rolling out the forestry module at the national level (For instance, this was carried out as part of the 2017 Household Budget Survey in Sao Tome and Principe.)

While data is still currently being collected, initial findings from the ongoing work in Liberia clearly illustrate the heavy reliance of households on forest and wild products. These findings are expected to raise a significant amount of interest amongst stakeholders. A BBL is planned to showcase the preliminary results and implementation experience. The findings from Armenia will equip decisionmakers with evidence on the linkages between forestry reliance, energy use, and poverty, thereby enabling improvements in both environmental and social outcomes via evidence-based policy design.  Similarly, further promotion of a short forestry module, following lessons learned from the Sao Tome and Principe experience, could increase the geographic coverage and frequency of data on forestry usage leading to increased knowledge and evidence for policy-making.

While it is early in the process to articulate achievements in terms of influence on policies and investments, this activity has achieved the following: 

  • demonstrated proof of the application concept of the forestry module in the context of national-level LSMS survey applications;  
  • developed and acted upon the interest of counterparts in developing these applications in new countries; 
  • developed and applied a community-level module of the survey design to collect, among other forest-related data, gender-specific data;
  • developed a CAPI application of the survey module, to be further developed for wider dissemination.

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Author : The World Bank [1], PROFOR [2], FAO [3] [1] [2] [3]
Last Updated : 06-10-2019

Trees and smallholder agriculture - a household perspective from Subsaharan Africa


Trees have the potential to be an important crop in the overall agriculture, food security, and poverty debates in setting appropriate policy in Sub-Saharan African countries. However, there is currently insufficient knowledge and appreciation of the benefits of on-farm tree planting (and agroforestry) to agricultural production and farmers’ livelihoods.


This activity aims to enhance the understanding and appreciation of the role of on-farm trees in forestry (as a share of total forest land), agriculture, and farmers’ livelihoods in Africa. The study proposes to establish a baseline for further benchmarking and tracking the evolution of on-farm tree planting within the broader context of Africa’s forestry developments. Policy discussions will be informed by more nationally representative, data-driven analysis and evidence-based in-country dialogues on the role of on-farm trees in Africa’s forestry and agricultural policies by linking the rich, geo-referenced socioeconomic data sets of households with secondary information on forests.


The final report Prevalence, Economic Contribution, and Determinants of Trees on Farms across Sub-Saharan Africa was published on August 2016.

Significantly, this report provides the first national-scale evidence on the contribution of trees outside of forests to household incomes in Africa. The report summarizes data collected from the Living Standards Measurement Study–Integrated Surveys on Agriculture in five countries: Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda.

The report findings show that trees on farms are widespread. On average, one third of rural smallholders grow trees. In fact, trees account for an average of 17 percent of total annual gross income for tree-growing households and 6 percent for all rural households. Gender, land and labor endowments, and especially forest proximity and national context are key determinants of on-farm tree adoption and management. These new, national-scale insights on the prevalence, economic contribution and determinants of trees on farms in Africa lay the basis for exploring the interaction of agriculture, on-farm tree cultivation, and forestry. This will improve our understanding of rural livelihood dynamics.

Finally, a key achievement has been that our work has placed trees on farms more squarely on the agenda for World Bank-supported national household survey data collection in the coming years. In fact, the World Bank has pledged to support the 78 IDA countries in the production of a multi-topic household survey every three years between 2016 and 2030, and a methodological research agenda has been developed to further this goal during fiscal 2017–19. Further investment in the inclusion of forestry modules in household surveys can help strengthen the information base on on-farm tree growing. Otherwise, the contribution of trees on farms risks being ignored and left out in agricultural and landscape policy design.

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Author : LSMS-ISA, Worldbank [1] [1],,contentMDK:23512006~pagePK:64168445~piPK:64168309~theSitePK:3358997,00.html
Last Updated : 04-19-2018

Improving the Forests Database to Support Sustainable Forest Management

At the heart of whether growth in a country is green and sustainable is the issue of accumulation of wealth. It is wealth — broadly defined to include manufactured capital, natural capital (including forests), human and social capital— that underlies the generation of national income. Gross domestic product (GDP) has conventionally been used to assess economic performance, measuring economic growth from one year to the next. But GDP does not take into account depreciation and depletion of wealth, and therefore does not provide an indication of whether growth is sustainable: an economy could appear to be growing in the near term by running down its assets such as its forests. Assessments of economic performance should therefore be based on both measures of annual growth (such as GDP) and measures of the comprehensive wealth of a country, which indicate whether that growth is sustainable in the long term.

For the past 15 years, the World Bank has provided indicators to measure the sustainability of a country’s growth path, such as Adjusted Net Saving (ANS), adjusted Net National Income (aNNI), and comprehensive wealth estimates.  Underpinning these indicators are data on natural resource rents (from forests, minerals, and energy) which provide policy makers with information on potential revenues from natural capital.

The comprehensive wealth accounts, which have been published for 1995, 2000, and 2005, include estimates for forest wealth which is calculated as the sum of the net present value of rents from timber extraction and annual benefits from non-timber resources, including minor forest products, hunting, recreation, and watershed protection. ANS, which is published annually and covers the period 1970-present, is defined as net national saving adjusted for investments in human capital, depletion of natural resources (including forests), and damages to human health caused by pollution, and provides an estimate of the annual change in wealth.

Recent findings suggest that while wealth data and ANS data are used by researchers and policy analysts, the greatest demand is for data on natural resource rents.  However, while minerals and energy rent data have gained a lot of traction, rent data for forests are not used as frequently. Interviews have revealed concerns with the credibility of the underlying data, such as the FAO data on forest area and growing stock. The authors of the indicators have also concluded that a number of methodological changes could improve estimates for forest wealth, potential forest rents, and net forest depletion.  

This activity hopes to increase the use of improved World Bank forest data (forest rents, net forest depletion, and forest wealth), so that countries and data users are better equipped with credible and more accurate information on the physical area and value of forest resources. Countries should consider not just the flow of revenues from forest resources, but also the sustainable management of the asset (stock of forest resources).

  • Data on the value of forest wealth, its share in total wealth, and how the value is changing over time can help governments assess the contribution of forests to current development outcomes and whether forests are being managed sustainably.
  • Data on potential forest rents when combined with information on actual rent recovery and use of these revenues will allow governments to assess whether contribution of forest resources to sustainable development is being realized and who is benefitting from the revenue.  Such data and assessments can equip policymakers to better manage forest resources, improve forest governance, increase transparency in the rent captured, and ultimately lead to increased reinvestment of forest rents in other forms of capital to grow the total wealth of the country.
  • These policy changes could, in turn, promote the sustainable management of forest resources for poverty reduction and economic growth.


The activity has been successfully completed.

A report is being finalized and will be released soon. The report reviews the latest literature, explores improved data sources, evaluates key parameters and assumptions in the methodology, and outlines the steps and resources required to improve the data and methods.

An implementation plan for updating the forest database that includes a plan for country surveys if the report finds insufficient global data will be finalized in the coming months.

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For stories and updates on related activities, follow us on twitter and facebook, or to our mailing list for regular updates.

Author : PROFOR [1], WAVES [2], RFF [3] [1] [2] [3]
Last Updated : 02-24-2017