The Governance of Forests Initiative is a global network that promotes transparent, participatory, accountable, and coordinated governance of forest lands and resources.
The Governance of Forests Initiative (GFI) is a global network of civil society organizations from Brazil, Indonesia, Cameroon, and the United States. We work to promote policies and practices that strengthen forest governance, in order to support sustainable forest management and improved local livelihoods. We carry out evidence-based assessments of forest governance and engage decision-makers at all levels to advance reforms.
Why does forest governance matter?Forest governance refers to how decisions are made about the management and use of forest lands and resources. These decisions are shaped and influenced by a complicated web of actors, rules, and practices both within and beyond the forest sector. Poor forest governance is often characterized by low levels of transparency, accountability, and public participation in decision-making, as well as weak coordination across different sectors and levels of government. It contributes to problems such as unplanned forest conversion, conflict over forest resources, illegal logging, and corruption. These underlying governance challenges remain a persistent obstacle to achieving sustainable and equitable management of forests in many countries.
GFI attempts to address these challenges and strengthen forest governance by:
- Diagnosing governance problems by using the GFI Framework of Indicators to generate detailed evidence about the strengths and weaknesses of forest governance in a given country.
- Engaging government, the private sector, and local forest stakeholders to develop and implement policies and measures that will strengthen forest governance from the local to the national level.
GFI’s network of civil society partners in Brazil, Cameroon, Indonesia, and the United States are using the GFI Framework of Indicators to improve forest governance through a three step process: (1) carrying out evidence-based assessments of forest governance, (2) developing practical solutions to identified governance challenges, and (3) engaging in constructive dialogues with governments and other forest stakeholders to advance governance reforms. Our specific research priorities and engagement strategies vary between regions and countries.
In particular, the GFI network works to influence the development of international and domestic initiatives to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and enhance forest carbon stocks in developing countries (collectively known as REDD+). GFI partners seek to ensure that the political momentum and financial resources generated by REDD+ encourage and support improvements in forest governance. We develop research and analysis to inform international and domestic policy-makers, donor institutions, and other stakeholders of the critical role of forest governance in developing robust REDD+ institutions and addressing the drivers of deforestation.
GFI’s current work on forest governance and REDD+ includes:
- Tracking how emerging REDD+ country strategies are addressing forest governance challenges
- Exploring options for using governance indicators to monitor implementation of REDD+ programs
- Developing recommendations on how to design information systems for REDD+ safeguards.
The GFI Framework of Indicators
The GFI Framework of Indicators provides a systematic and evidence-based research methodology for comprehensively assessing forest governance. The indicators are framed as diagnostic questions that examine the rules, actors, and practices that shape decisions over forests from the local to the national level. The indicators address four thematic areas:
- Tenure of Forest Land and Resources
- Coordination of Land Use
- Forest Institutions and Decision-Making
- Forest Management and Law Enforcement
The GFI indicators evaluate forest governance against a set of ideal benchmarks and best practices that define good governance of forests. The indicators and research methodology are flexible and can be adapted to different country contexts. The information and evidence generated through a GFI assessment can be used for a variety of purposes, including advocacy, policy design, monitoring and reporting, and program evaluation.
Complete GFI assessments have been carried out in Brazil, Indonesia, and Cameroon, and GFI coalitions are using the results to develop country-specific strategies tailored to their priorities. For example:
The GFI Brazil coalition developed additional indicators to carry out a detailed governance assessment of four state-level environmental funds that may be used in the future to channel REDD+ financing.
The GFI Indonesia coalition launched a multi-stakeholder process including government, civil society and academic representatives to adapt the global GFI indicators to the specific context of forests and governance in Indonesia. The GFI Indonesia Indicators are being used to conduct local capacity-building and research in two provinces.
Sarah LupbergerProject Coordinator II