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sustainable forest management

Making forest concessions in the tropics work to achieve the 2030 Agenda: Voluntary Guidelines

The challenge of improving forest conservation and the expansion of SFM as stated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development demands that due consideration begiven to forest production. Sustainable forest production can contribute to enhanced rural livelihoods, rural development and low-carbon economies.The proposed Voluntary Guidelines focus on promoting sustainable forest management (SFM) in concessions of public natural production forests in tropical regions.They build on the ITTO Voluntary Principles and Guidelines for the Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests, as well as other relevant guidance for good forest governance and SFM, providing practical guidance to new forest concession regimes, or existing ones. The concession guidelines stem from lessons learned in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. In combination with criteria and indicators (C&I) processes, these guidelines provide a framework for implementation and monitoring of concessions to deliver true SFM.

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Author : FAO
Last Updated : 05-31-2018

Bringing International Best Practice to Inform Key Forest Sector Issues in Vietnam


Vietnam’s national commitment to using forests for sustainable and resilient growth is clearly articulated in the government’s Target Program for Sustainable Forest Development. Furthermore, the government has also shown its commitment to sustainable forest sector use by prioritizing policy actions related to the spatial planning of coastal forests in the ongoing development policy in financing climate change and green growth in the country. Vietnam is also revising its forest law that covers key issues such as collaborative management, restoration of coastal forest areas, and monitoring forest financing in the forest sector. As the forest law is being revised, it will be important to ensure that the legal framework for the sector facilitates involvement of private individuals, enterprises and communities in sustainable resource use and management. The World Bank is well positioned to bring the technical expertise needed to inform such ongoing and upcoming engagements, which includes informing the development of policy financing on Climate Change and Green Growth, the implementation of the Forest Sector Modernization and Coastal Forest Enhancement Project and the ongoing engagement on Emission Reduction (via the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility).


The scope of this activity will involve the following three sub activities:

1.  Confirm and prioritize the intervention areas for which technical expertise will be obtained;

2. Bring international expertise to:

  • Assist with the characterization of the forest users and understand what current demographic and socioeconomic characteristics means regarding who will be forest users and how they will use forests in the next 5 to 10 years.
  • Inform policy discussions on the intervention areas (for example, on how to track use of forest financing).
  • Assist with the piloting of approaches in the intervention areas (e.g., payments for ecosystem services in coastal forests, co-management arrangements, or citizen engagement in integrated planning of coastal forests) and learning from these efforts.
  • Develop implementation guidance in the selected intervention areas (e.g., guidelines on how to operationalize payments for ecosystem services in coastal forests from aquaculture).

3. Assist with transferring international expertise to the provincial, district and commune-level. 

The main audience of this work will be the Forestry Department within the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The activity will provide them with insights on how to technically and financially support these key areas.


This project has been completed and partly achieved its objective. It is informing implementation of investments in coastal forest management – ranging from stakeholder involvement, and mobilizing financing through PFES. The findings from the activity are still being used to inform the Government of Vietnam  forest strategy that is under preparation and the PFES decree that will be issued after pilot work is completed, so the activity, to date, has not informed policies to the extent envisaged.  

The work has offered relevant lessons from international and national practices to the stakeholder group that is mandated to implement sustainable forest management activities. The activity has also involved engaging closely with VNForest (the Agency within Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) mandated with policy and planning dimensions of forest management in Vietnam). 

At the VNForest level, the objective of informing policy is ongoing as VNForest regards local stakeholder involvement (via co-management) in management of coastal forests, and on PFES to inform the design of a pilot for carbon PFES in coastal forest areas. In addition to producing reports that synthesized the main findings, the activity involved workshops and trainings at the technical level and for Department of Agriculture and Rural Development leaders (i.e. leaders of province level agency responsible for Agriculture and Rural Development who are responsible for forestry and also have the mandate to submit the sustainable forest management plans to the provincial government).   

The work on co-management and on sustainable seedling supply to enable effective forest restoration is influencing the implementation of activities in the Forest Modernization and Coastal Resilience Project. The lessons and insights from the work on payments for ecosystem services (PFES) has informed the effort to pilot this approach in the same project and is being positioned to be one of the experiences from which lessons will be extracted in the development of the decree on PFES for carbon. (In Vietnam, decrees follow laws and provide more operational detail on how to implement specific elements of the law).


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Last Updated : 06-08-2020

Forest Concessions Management


In collaboration with the World Bank, with financial support from PROFOR, this FAO-led activity aims to develop guidelines for forest concession and construct lessons learned and best practices, building on FAO’s Forest Concession Initiative (FCI), while capturing trends and needs brought up by new realities, such as climate change strategies and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The results of the activity are aimed to benefit national and subnational forest management and land use planning agencies, community forest managers and other international NGOs and forest management stakeholders.


Forest concessions are an important instrument used for allocating public forests to a private entity. It is used as a contract to establish the rights to harvest in a given forest area and regulate responsibilities, prices, incentives and sanctions of the government and the concession holder. Most typically, forest concessions are granted to companies, but there are also cases of concessions granted to communities. Forest concessions are adopted in all parts of the world, especially in and tropical forests, and are an important tool for sustainable forest management (SFM), especially considering that the majority of forests in tropical forests are public. Forest concessions, which can be granted through different contractual arrangements, can enable a wide range of socioeconomic benefits, such as security of tenure, increased income, access to social services and local development.

Forest concessions have the potential to be instrumental in achieving progress towards the SDGs, especially by creating more sustainable terrestrial ecosystems that can alleviate poverty, and contribute to climate change mitigation and adaption. Despite these potential benefits, results from forest concessions in tropical forests remain dismal, constrained by weak local governance and global timber market failure to reward sustainable forest management.

In the FAO-led Forest Concession Initiative (FCI), results suggest that forest concessions are very heterogeneous and have been implemented to respond to different, and not always clear, policy objectives, and most typically in weak governance environments. As a result, forest concessions are often perceived negatively and are often associated as being drivers of forest degradation and social inequality. Questions also remain about their financial and economic feasibility. The FCI points to the need of building on lessons learned from the experience with forest concessions in tropical forests to inform the processes in allocating public production forests. This program, therefore, follows up on FCI’s results by developing guidelines for forest concessions, building on lessons learned and best practices, while capturing trends and needs brought up by new realities, such as climate change strategies, the SDGs and the countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).


This activity will be led by FAO, in collaboration with PROFOR, by conducting the following tasks:

  • Analytical framework with a typology of forest concessions, including policy objectives, legal aspects and contractual arrangements, scope of forest management (objectives and activities), main stakeholders, and monitoring and evaluation.

  • Conduct surveys targeting a wide range of stakeholders from the public and private sectors including concessionairis, community organizations, policy makers, private sector bodies involved in forest concessions and alternative allocations models to help identify enabling conditions for effective management of public production forests in tropical countries and to investigate forest concession’s contribution to achieving the SDGs and NDCs.

  • Stakeholder review and validation workshops that target the three focus regions—West and Central Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America—and bring the key stakeholders together to discuss, validate and further elaborate the draft framework principles and guidelines.

  • Final guidelines and publication.


The final report was launched in May 2018 and is available here and from the FAO website.

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Author : FAO
Last Updated : 05-31-2018

Zambia Forest Sector Analysis


Forests and related resources in Zambia represent the lifeline of rural economies and daily subsistence. The forest sector currently contributes about 5.2% to the country’s GDP, and provides formal and informal employment to about 1.1 million people. The Government of Zambia seeks to manage and enhance forest products and services in order to mitigate climate change, boost income generation, poverty reduction and job creation, and protect biodiversity.

However, Zambia currently lacks the support to effectively tap into the value of forest ecosystem services. For meaningful engagement with the government and other partners to take place, it is imperative to have a better understanding of the forest sector. This activity will support thatanalysis.


This activity will support efforts to strengthen Zambia’s course of action towards forest protection for livelihoods, environmental benefits, and the national economy. The main components are:

  1. Understanding forests’ contribution to rural livelihoods and the national economy: This component will fill a major knoweldge gap by delving into the importance of forests for improving livelihoods and poverty reduction, and their contributions directly to the economy and through other sectors. A key output will be a synthesis of forest contributions to livelihoods and national economy, including projected values based on current deforestation rates.
  2. Spatial assessment of the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation: In Zambia, deforestation and forest degradation is closely linked to development activities in the agricultural, transportation, energy, and extractive sectors. This component will assess forest loss by sector, with the goal of influencing relevant policy issues
  3. Forest smart management interventions: This component will chart a way forward for the World Bank’s engagement with Zambia on forestry and related sectors. The activity will produce a forward-looking synthesis of discussion points to position, as well as private sector guidelines to support rural livelihoods based on forest and forest products.


This activity is ongoing. The preliminary findings from the initial report indicate that the forest sector in Zambia is plagued with challenges linked to deforestation, institutional and legal lapses, land use change and competing land uses, forest diseases, lack of public and private sector investments, and lack of enough qualified to sustainably manage forests. The findings also indicate illegal logging of native species of high economic value, such as mukula, for international markets, involving a complex network of interest groups and individuals. These include individuals, traditional chiefs, government workers, and Chinese nationals. Illegal logging in rosewood alone leads to staggering losses of about US$3.2 million in revenue and estimated bribes paid to state officials of about US$1.7 million. In general, the deforestation annual rate, estimated at 250,000–350,000 hectares, results in an annual loss of US$500 million in natural capital stock. 

These preliminary findings put a spotlight on the potential contribution of the forest sector to rural livelihoods and national economy and suggest areas that should be prioritized to ensure smart-forest management interventions. At this stage, the findings are in tune with the project’s contribution to the broader development goals.

The initial report with preliminary findings as indicated above has been shared with the Forest Department for their review, and a review meeting has already been scheduled with the Bank Group. During this reporting period, the collaboration with the Forest Department has been a noteworthy aspect in the execution of the project. Given the level of commitment and collaboration, undoubtedly, the forest knowledge products and outcomes of this project hold potential to influence policy to contribute to general improved social and environmental outcomes of the forest sector in Zambia.

More findings will be shared on this page when they become available.

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Last Updated : 06-09-2019

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.


This project has been completed.
Key Outputs 
  1. Ecosystem services analysis: Time series analysis of trends in forest conversion and forest degradation were developed with spatial analysis of drivers of change; assessment of the erosion and sediment regulation services provided by the forest in the Cardamoms; and assessment of priority areas in the Cardamoms for water regulation were undertaken. Maps of erosion and sediment regulation, and water provisioning ecosystem services were produced. These results were discussed with the government and are being refined with additional observed data on water flow. The analyses are included as a report (sent to PROFOR), and the database of ecosystem service maps will be subsequently developed.  
  2. Stocktaking exercise: Stocktaking was undertaken on land use, non-timber forest product (NTFP) value chains, forest ecosystem services, and ecotourism in the CMTS. The aim of the stocktaking was to review and collate key findings, lessons and recommendations on work that had been done in Cambodia on these four topics. This stocktaking provided inputs for the subsequent ecotourism analysis, and the NTFP value chains analysis. The results of the stocktaking are included in a report that is the final report of the stocktaking activity. Report can be accessed at HERE: 
  3. Ecotourism analysis. Building on the stocktaking analysis on ecotourism in the CMTS, further analysis was undertaken on ecotourism, and the results of these have been developed as five reports which are described below. The results were discussed with the Cambodian government prior to finalization. 
  • Priority Investments for Ecotourism Development in Cambodian Protected Areas – Report describes investments in skills building, capacity development, infrastructure and services that are needed to develop ecotourism in protected areas. Investments were determined based on stakeholder consultations including provincial governments, community organizations, and Ministries of Environment, Rural Development, and Tourism. 
  • Ecotourism Development and Management Models in Cambodian Protected Areas – Report provides an overview of ecotourism in Cambodia, providing insight into the history of its development and the major strategies of the Cambodian government to develop ecotourism. The report also includes an assessment of existing models of ecotourism in Cambodia, and recommendations the type of models for ecotourism development in Protected areas for community groups, private sector, joint private and community ventures and PPPs. 
  • Mapping and prioritizing sites for ecotourism development. Report describes the multicriteria decision analysis process that was used to prioritize sites for ecotourism development. 
  • Review of the Legal and Regulatory Framework for Ecotourism. Report provides an assessment of the laws and policies supporting ecotourism development in Cambodia and provides recommendation on improvements needed in the legal and regulatory framework. 
  • Enabling Private Sector Investment in Ecotourism. Report provides an overview of key markets segments for tourism and Cambodia; an assessment of the main challenges for tourism and ecotourism in Cambodia; assessment of the challenges and barriers facing private sector in tourism in Cambodia; and recommendations and preliminary strategy for enabling private sector in ecotourism in Cambodia. The work was developed through desktop research and consultations with private sector. 
  1. NTFP Analysis: Value chain analysis of bamboo, cardamom and rattan were undertaken, and recommendations provided for enhancing these value chains are included in two reports for NTFP Value Chain Analysis. A working paper—Promotion of NTFP Value Chain in the CMTS Landscape was also developed drawing the value chain analysis; available here. Results of the value chain analysis were presented and discussed during meetings with the government in September 2019. Reports are here: “NTFP Value Chain Analysis” Phase II - Value Chain Studies and â€œNTFP Value Chain Analysis” Phase I - Prioritization of NTFPs 
This activity was successful in providing the Ministry of Environment (MoE) with data and information that helps inform how they plan and develop activities for natural resources management and livelihoods development. The activity was also successful in building the capacity of MoE to develop such data and information, by keeping MoE staff closely involved in the process of developing and implementing the analytical works and providing close advisory support on how to use the data and information effectively in planning for natural resources and livelihoods. The work to develop ecotourism was high priority for the MoE and the government as ecotourism is a major development strategy for Cambodia, but is an area where the government is relatively inexperienced.

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Last Updated : 06-08-2020

Encouraging smallholder cocoa farmers to make forest-smart decisions


The expansion of agricultural commodity production is a key driver of deforestation in many countries, particularly with cocoa in Cîte d’Ivoire and Ghana, the world’s two largest cocoa producers. In Ghana, cocoa cultivation caused 27 percent of the total deforestation between 1990-2008. Climate change is also exacerbating deforestation by causing marked shifts in cocoa production levels and quality. Unfortunately, West Africa’s smallholder cocoa farmers are at the epicenter of the twin threats of deforestation and climate change. In Cîte d’Ivoire and Ghana, nearly 2 million farmers till the lands of two to three hectares that produce 60 percent of the world’s cocoa. It is estimated that nearly 1.5 million existing cocoa farms require urgent and progressive renovation and/or rehabilitation of up to 4.5 million hectares of land. With the pressure to increase productivity through intensification, farmers turn to expanding the area of cocoa production to increase yield, which further drives deforestation.

In their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC’s), both Ghana and Cîte d’Ivoire committed to decoupling deforestation from agriculture to mitigate climate change and promoting agroforestry and other climate smart practices, which also contribute to the countries’ REDD+ objectives. Achieving this, however, will require important structural changes to address a range of challenges, including the need for sustainable forest management, consistent production standards and practices, improved know-how and technologies among field practitioners, more financing directed at core issues, and more understanding of the barriers and distortions that prevent better practices from being widely adopted.

The World Bank is supporting engagement with the cocoa sector through a partnership with the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), an alliance of cocoa producing companies committed to promoting a sustainable cocoa economy. PROFOR’s program seeks to leverage partnerships and building knowledge through an extensive stakeholder engagement process to address key challenges to enable cocoa sector actors to move toward sustainable forest smart and climate smart solutions.


PROFOR’s analytical work seeks to build knowledge on the following issues:

1) Finding common ground on climate smart cocoa value chains by working with the private sector;

2) Aligning efforts to address cocoa production as a driver of deforestation in Ghana and Cîte d’Ivoire;

3) Describing funding options that can address challenges while moving toward forest smart and climate smart smallholder production methods; and

4) Aligning countries, multinationals, and local buying companies to support farmers in sustainable cocoa intensification that reduces expansionary pressure on remaining forest resources.

A White Paper will be produced that will focus on smallholder cocoa farmers in Ghana and CĂŽte d’Ivoire. The paper will outline a menu of options that government agencies, development partners and cocoa sector businesses can employ to advance the following objectives: 

  • Keep smallholders engaged in sustainable cocoa production;
  • Ensure that cocoa production / practices do not increase deforestation;
  • Encourage rejuvenation of cocoa farms; and,
  • Promote reforestation and afforestation for mixed agroforestry that diversifies both shade in the landscape and farmers’ income generating potential.

This White Paper will build on work already initiated through collaboration with WCF, Climate Focus, The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), Prince of Wales ISU, and other relevant stakeholders.


This activity ended in August 2018. This effort produced a report focused on smallholder cocoa farmers in Ghana and Cîte d’Ivoire and identified policy and investment opportunities for promoting climate smart, zero-deforestation cocoa production.

The report summarized options for rehabilitating West Africa’s aging cocoa stock and integrating shade-cocoa production into climate smart agroforestry mosaics. It advanced the stakeholder engagement process, contributed to cocoa sector action plans, and advanced thinking about how to finance these kinds of interventions. On-the-ground outcomes from the work are still being realized (and will take some time), but it is certain that it has influenced companies’ and countries’ cocoa action plans as well as the direction of their forward investment planning.

The report, published in December 2017, contributed to discussions of the Cocoa and Forest Initiative ( and to the UNFCCC COP23 in Bonn.

The report and the associated engagement process contributed options and ideas to inform the action agendas of countries, companies, and producers to support farmers in sustainable intensification of production – with the aim to improve livelihoods and reduce expansionary pressures on forests and the environment.

This work also supported a dialogue process and collaborative working relationships with the World Cocoa Foundation, Climate Focus, IDH, Prince of Wales ISU, and the governments of the two target countries. Through workshop discussions in the two countries (Ghana and Cîte d’Ivoire), this activity brought together key policy makers (Ministries of Environment, Agriculture, Finance; cocoa parastatals; REDD+ implementation agencies) and cocoa producing and buying companies; the topics and suggestions in the paper were shared, refined and validated for further use in developing a Zero-Deforestation Roadmap and action plans for the cocoa sector (see WCF and IDH websites).

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Last Updated : 05-16-2019

Moving toward Free, Prior and Informed Consent: a dialogue


The phrase “free, prior, and informed consent” (FPIC) refers to the rights of long-standing communities, particularly indigenous peoples to give or withhold their FPIC regarding measures that will affect them. The right to FPIC is affirmed in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and in the jurisprudence of international human rights treaties. While the right itself is clearly recognized, the issue of how to ensure adherence by non-state parties is less clear. Commercial forestry operations frequently extend over many years and may involve land not owned by the operating companies, requiring engagement with those with prior right to, and ongoing dependence on, forest lands and resources. Given that recognition of the right to FPIC is most vital when statutory law and forest governance are weak, more guidance is required regarding how to respect this right in practice.


The Forests Dialogue (TFD) held a two-day learning event in October 2013 in which World Bank staff, forest sector company representatives, and TFD Steering Committee members discussed best practices from the private sector on operationalizing principles, safeguards and guidelines for FPIC and community consultation. External consultants who facilitated the learning event also prepared a series of four case studies, which analyzed the best tools and mechanisms used by private companies that undertook FPIC processes in Uruguay, Lao PDR, Colombia and Indonesia. The companies showcased voluntarily agreed to serve as examples in order to provide a snapshot of their experiences and thoughts on best practices. The material highlighted both challenges and effective approaches to engaging with traditional communities and indigenous peoples in ways that protect their rights.


The case studies, which were revised in 2014 to produce a final research paper, drew on the following experiences of companies using FPIC principles: 

  • In Lao PDR, Stora Enso established eucalyptus plantations by leasing land from the government and obtaining FPIC from villagers, in a legal context that did not provide private or community titles. Other activities included a community development fund and a participatory agroforestry model.
  • In South Africa, Mondi negotiated with communities to continue operating on ancestral land undergoing repatriation, working with a third party to build capacity and facilitate discussions around community needs and governance.
  • In Indonesia, APRIL negotiated benefit-sharing arrangements with communities claiming access to a government-granted concession. Ultimately, the company’s concession excluded areas where villages remained opposed.

In Uruguay, UPM negotiated with communities to directly purchase or lease land, or to set up easements for grazing and beekeeping on plantations. The company also set up a foundation to support community development projects.

FPIC is one of many ways for companies in the forest sector to address working environments with complex tenure regimes. The four case studies highlighted some key lessons, including:

  • Benefit-sharing arrangements are increasingly important.
  • Identifying potential rights-holders and engaging with stakeholders before decisions are made - even when current legislation does not recognize customary claims – can help to avoid conflicts. 
  • Governments may have crucial roles to play in facilitating agreements.

Grievance mechanisms are key to resolving conflicts.  Follow us on twitter or subscribe to our mailing list for regular updates.

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

Author : The Forests Dialogue [1] [1]
Last Updated : 02-24-2017

Economic Growth and Drivers of Deforestation in the Congo Basin

Though the deforestation rates in the Congo Basin countries have historically been low, the trend is likely to change dramatically due to the combination of many different factors: population increases (and associated expansion of subsistence agriculture and fuelwood collection); local and regional development; and the rise in global demand for commodities.

The countries of the Congo Basin face the dual challenge of developing local economies and reducing poverty, while limiting the negative impact of growth on the region's natural capital.

PROFOR supported an in-depth, multi-sectoral analysis of the major drivers of deforestation and forest degradation for the next decades in all six of the Congo Basin countries (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Republic of Congo). The overall study was led by the World Bank Africa Region. A team from the International Institute for Applies Systems Analysis (IASA) led a modeling exercise, based on the GLOBIOM model but tailored to the Congo region, to investigate drivers of deforestation by 2030 and assess the impacts of various "policy shocks" (such as: increased international demand for biofuel; improved transportation infrastructure; improved agricultural technologies; etc). The approach also relied heavily on the inputs from multi-stakeholder regional workshops and in-depth sectoral reports (available on this page).


  • ƒDeforestation rates are likely to increase in the future to sustain development and poverty reduction.
  • ƒƒIncreasing agricultural productivity is not sufficient to limit pressure on forests.
  • ƒƒWood extraction for domestic fuelwood or charcoal production will continue to grow for the next few decades and could create a massive threat to forests in densely populated areas.
  • ƒƒThe development of much-needed transportation infrastructure could lead to major deforestation, mainly by changing economic dynamics in newly accessible rural areas.
  • ƒƒThe pressure from formal logging is limited, but informal chainsaw logging is expected to progressively degrade forests.
  • ƒƒMining—a largely untapped source of income and growth—could also lead to significant impacts when the sector develops.


The study highlights options to limit deforestation while pursuing inclusive, green growth. Emerging environmental finance mechanisms, such as reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), may provide additional resources to help countries protect their forests. But there are already a number of “no-regrets” actions that countries can take to grow along a sustainable development path:

  • Participatory land use planning could help clarify tradeoffs among different sectors, encourage the development of growth poles and corridors, and direct destructive activities away from forests of great ecological value.
  • ƒƒUnlocking the potential of the Congo Basin for agriculture will not necessarily take a toll on forests: the Congo Basin could almost double its cultivated area without converting any forested areas. Policy makers should seek to target agricultural activities primarily towards degraded and nonforested land.
  • ƒƒIn the energy sector, putting the woodfuel supply chain on a more sustainable and formal basis should stand as a priority. More attention should be paid to responding to growing urban needs for both food and energy through intensified multi-use systems (agroforestry).
  • ƒƒBetter planning at the regional and national levels could help contain the adverse effects of transportation development, through a multi-modal and more spatially efficient network.
  • ƒƒExpanding sustainable forest management principles to the booming and unregulated informal logging sector would help preserve forest biomass and carbon stocks.
  • ƒƒSetting “high standard” goals for environmental management of the mining sector could help mitigate adverse effects as the sector develops in the Congo Basin.

See also: Main recommendations by sector (English) - Recommandations principales par secteur (français)

The results from the modeling exercise were shared over the years: at the UNFCCC Conference of Parties 15 in Copehagen, at the World Bank in January 2010 and February 2013( "SDN week" ) and at multiple regional conferences and workshops (Kinshasa, Douala, Brazzaville 2009-2012; final regional conference in Kinshasa, May 2013 - see conference presentations here).

The findings have helped Congo Basin countries better understand the diversity of factors of deforestation --beyond logging -- and the impact of indirect external factors such as global commodity demand.

The knowledge generated from this activity is critically important as Congo Basin countries prepare their REDD+ and broader development strategies. If countries are able to minimize forest loss as their economies develop, they could "leapfrog" the steep drop in forest cover that has historically accompanied development in many countries, and make an important global contribution to climate change mitigation.

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Author : World Bank Africa Region, COMIFAC, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, PROFOR, Norwegian Trust Fund for Private Sector and Infrastructure, UK Government, Trust Fund for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development, Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. Author: Carole Megevand, with Aline Mosnier, Joël Hourticq, Klas Sanders, Nina Doetinchem, and Charlotte Streck.
Last Updated : 02-24-2017

Evaluating the Effectiveness and Impact of Forest Certification

Sustainable forest management certification enjoys wide support; yet critical evaluation of forest certification has not been carried out. Most studies that have attempted to study the impact of SFM certification have methodological shortcomings, such as selection bias (non-random participation), or lack a robust understanding of market impacts of certification at firm and farm levels. With these deficiencies, its not possible to assess the impacts of  forest certification on forests, firms, employees, and rural communities with any scientific precision.

This activity financed a three-day workshop on evaluating the impacts of certification in Montpellier, France, on 12-14 November 2011.  Participants representing the evaluation community, economists, sociologists, ecologists, and foresters discussed and decided on an integrated evaluation method to elucidate whether certification is achieving its set objectives in different countries.The workshop assembled an overview of available quantitative and qualitative approaches to impact evaluation for tropical timber certification; and provided an opportunity to assemble the expertise needed to develop a research agenda for evaluating the impact of forest certification.

The working paper available on this page summarizes the state of knowledge on the conservation impact of forest certification. Key conclusions and recommendations include:

  • It is essential to use systematic analyses when making decisions on forest management and practices. These include better understanding of the complex dynamics and theory of change of forest sector interventions as well as on the ultimate objectives of forest management.
  • Despite not having full understanding of all the dimensions and impacts of forest management certification, it can be assumed that certified forests are, on average, most likely better managed than noncertified forests. Certification also ensures to the public that sustainability of forest management is promoted.
  • Forests provide several benefits. Forest management certification mainly deals with the productive functions of the forests and with ensuring that these functions can create economic goods without jeopardizing social benefits and environmental sustainability. National governments and donor agencies should continue their support for well-managed sustainable production forestry, and forest certification is one instrument for achieving it.
  • Methodological challenges in measuring the impact of forest certification cannot be interpreted as lack of impact. Forest certification increases the information available in the marketplace for all participants, and this improved information increases confidence in certified producers. Having better and scientifically verified information on the impact would improve the information base even further and could also be used to improve the design of certification schemes.

The workshop and working paper available on this page have contributed to defining a research project on the field impacts of SFM certification conducted by CIFOR, the University of Florida and CIRAD. Implementation of the research will require extensive support as well as collaboration and sharing of experiences by a wide range of stakeholders and institutions.

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Author : Center for International Forestry Research [1] (CIFOR), Claudia Romero (University of Florida, USA), Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement [2](CIRAD/France). [1] [2]
Last Updated : 02-24-2017






Jeffrey Sayer and Stewart Maginnis

Forests in Landscapes: Ecosystem Approaches to Sustainability

A Review of Conceptual Understandings and Practical Experiences


While many international agreements, governments, private sector companies and civil society organizations have committed to implement both an ecosystem approach and sustainable forest management (SFM), there is a general lack of clarity on how these two concepts relate to each other. As a result, delegates to international fora on forest and forest-related issues have many different interpretations as to whether and how an ecosystem approach and SFM relate to each other.


In response to challenges arising from this definitional problem, recommendations were made to take necessary actions to clarify the conceptual basis of the ecosystem approach in relation to sustainable forest management at both the sixth Conference of the Parties (COP-6) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and Resolution 3/4 of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF). Based on the request made by the CBD and UNFF, the objective of this study was to evaluate the link between the concepts of an ecosystem approach and SFM and, using case studies, to review the differences and similarities in the application of these approaches with a view to improve the conservation of biological diversity and sustainable use.

Specifically, the study sought to:

  • Outline the historical evolution and key operational features of the ecosystem approach and of contemporary SFM concepts.
  • Review practical experiences in the application of SFM and the Ecosystem Approach.
  • Explore how spatial and temporal perspectives inherent in the ecosystem approach and SFM can contribute to how we understand and address the economic, environmental and social trade-offs involved in land-use policy and practice.
  • Suggest key policy and institutional interventions for operationalizing these concepts, and optimizing synergies between them, in contemporary resource management and planning.


Forests in Landscapes, published in 2005, is the culmination of this work on the relationship between the Ecosystem Approach and Sustainable Forest Managment. It reviews changes that have occurred in forest management in recent decades. Recent innovations in Sustainable Forest Management and Ecosystem Approaches are resulting in forests increasingly being managed as part of the broader social-ecological systems in which they exist. Case studies from Europe, Canada, the United States, Russia, Australia, the Congo and Central America provide a wealth of international examples of innovative practices. The book also examines the political ecology and economics of forest management, and reviews the information needs and the use and misuse of criteria and indicators to achieve broad societal goals for forests.

The study was based on a discussion paper (Ecosystem Approaches and Sustainable Forest Management) prepared by IUCN, PROFOR and the World Bank for the 4th session of the UNFF, and a workshop organized by IUCN, PROFOR and the World Bank between 12 and 14 May 2004 which brought together experts from various countries in the Swiss Jura. Participants discussed and brainstormed on the relationship between the EsA and SFM concepts and assess how these two concepts can help operationalize the growing consensus that 21st century forest management should address broader, multi-stakeholder, multi-scale and multiple function objectives. Based on discussions from the workshop, a set of regional and thematic case studies on this subject were commissioned, and terms of references for the contributing authors were finalized.

The key findings from the initial draft of the report were distilled into a special issue of the joint IUCN/WWF Arborvitae newsletter, entitled Changing Realities: Ecosystem Approaches and Sustainable Forest Management. This 12-page communications piece offered a summary of the key findings of the study to date, reviewing and clarifying the relationship between EsA and SFM. In addition, a workshop on Ecosystem Approaches and Sustainable Forest Management was held at the World Conservation Congress in November 2004.

An important conclusion from the case studies is that many of the issues that the EsA principles highlight are already being addressed on the ground. The real value of EsA therefore is not as a competing concept to SFM, but as a set of general guidelines that help enrich the debate and provide a broad conceptual framework for resource management.

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Author : Jeffrey Sayer and Stewart Maginnis
Last Updated : 02-24-2017