Monitoring, evaluation, learning and impact assessment (MELIA)

The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) is an integrated global research initiative that aims to enhance the use, management and governance of forests, agroforestry and tree genetic resources as a way to improve livelihoods and the integrity of the environment. To test methods, approaches, partnerships and engagement strategies, and to seek the most effective means of achieving positive change, the program uses an innovative system to ensure the quality of its research, and to monitor, evaluate and assess the outcomes (defined as changes in technical, social and economic behavior) and impact (defined as changes in actual environmental quality and human wellbeing) of its work.


Monitoring, evaluation, learning and impact assessment
What is MELIA?
FTA’s innovative and integrated system to ensure quality of research is known as MELIA, which stands for monitoring, evaluation, learning and impact assessment. It aims to:
Encourage and build an “impact culture” within FTA;
Ensure that FTA’s work is relevant and useful;
Guide ongoing research to maximize effectiveness;
Provide a framework to learn from experience;
Provide evidence that FTA’s work is effective in contributing to the expected development outcomes; and
Contribute to methodology development for evaluating research for development.

The system supports FTA’s program-level prioritization and work planning as well as the program’s research, engagement and capacity development work throughout the whole research cycle, from project level to program level.

The MELIA team includes monitoring, evaluation and learning specialists based in each of the three CGIAR partner centers, specialists from other partner organizations, and a growing network of external collaborators.

How does MELIA work?
The MELIA system comprises:
A framework for ensuring “quality of research for development” (QoR4D) in its four dimensions within the program, given the mandate of FTA, the function of the different tools developed, and respective duties and responsibilities of the different structures and institutions involved.
Program-level theories of change (ToC) that articulate the hypothesized relationships between FTA’s research, engagement and capacity development and intended results (outcomes and impacts). These are presented in narrative and diagrammatic forms to illustrate and explain how FTA works within “impact pathways”, from outputs (i.e. elements in the sphere of control of the program) to outcomes (in the sphere of influence of the program) in a way that will contribute to positive development impacts (in our sphere of interest).
Specific, testable ToC at activity/cluster of activity (CoA) level, which can be monitored and evaluated using outcome evaluation.
A suite of tools and approaches for foresight modelling and ex ante impact assessment, research planning, monitoring progress, program evaluation, outcome evaluation and ex post impact assessment.
A program information database that records data on outputs, partnerships, engagement, expected outcomes and associated impacts.

Theory of change
A theory of change (ToC) is an explicit articulation of the hypothesized relationships between initiative strategies (the intervention) and intended results (outcomes and impacts), presented as a narrative and/or diagram that illustrates and explains the results chain from project-level activities through outputs, outcomes and impact.

Ensuring quality of research

FTA uses an integrated concept of quality of research for development (QoR4D). It appreciates that scientific credibility is necessary, but that this alone is insufficient for research programs to achieve development outcomes.

Research must also be relevant to intended users, asking and answering questions that will help overcome problems and facilitate and support solutions. It must be perceived as legitimate by all stakeholders so they trust that the process and results of the research have considered, and fairly reflect, their values and perspectives. It needs to be effective, with appropriate methods and mechanisms to translate knowledge to implementation and use by stakeholders. High-quality research for development has high potential to contribute to significant outcomes and to positive livelihoods, food security and environmental impacts.

FTA uses this integrated QoR4D concept to guide and manage work and performance at all scales, from program to projects. The framework helps focus attention on:
How research strategies and specific research questions are developed and defined (including who is involved and how relevance is determined);
How FTA teams and the overall program are organized to ensure all necessary functions are performed so that research translates to intended outcomes and impact;
Whether and how intended outcomes are being realized; and
Whether learning systems are in place and working to support ongoing reflection, lesson-learning and improvement. It also encourages an integrated and coherent approach to program and team design.
Foresight and ex ante impact assessment

The identification of relevant, legitimate and potentially most effective research areas provides the basis of FTA’s prioritization and work programming. For this, one needs to be able to identify trends, anticipate stakeholders’ needs and understand the main challenges and opportunities toward reaching the objectives.

To do so, FTA aims to systematically organize and analyze data about trends, influences, and actual and potential changes. This work feeds into, and uses the results of, foresight and global assessment models such as the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM), the International Food Policy Research Institute’s (IFPRI) IMPACT model, and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis’ (IAASA) Global Biosphere Management Model (GLOBIUM).

MELIA provides support for ex-ante impact assessments, which estimate the potential impact of an intervention or set of interventions. This requires clear understanding and articulation of current situations, trends and relationships and of assumptions about responses and interactions.

Outcome evaluation

To assess the effectiveness of its research in achieving intended outcomes and impacts, in complement to more classic ex post impact assessment, FTA has developed and uses a qualitative theory-based outcome evaluation approach. In addition to answering the question of “did it work?”, such evaluations investigate how and why outcomes occur or do not occur. Outcome evaluations assess whether or not the intended outcomes have been realized and therefore whether or not the ToC is being realized.

The main steps for this work are:
1. Review the theory of change, which explains the intended outcomes/impacts of a research project/program and the theoretical mechanisms for those outcomes;
2. Identify key intended outcomes and appropriate indicators and/or measures of those outcomes;
3. Assemble available monitoring data and conduct document reviews, key informant interviews, focus group discussions and surveys to collect evidence to test whether intended outcomes have been realized and whether the intervention (research project) has made a contribution to those outcomes;
4. Analyze and assess the project theory of change against actual outcomes;
5. Consider alternative theories/explanations for outcomes.

Evidence that intended outcomes have been achieved is an indicator of success at the project/program scale, and supports the validity of the ToC. A lack of evidence, or evidence of failure to achieve outcomes, triggers deeper examinations to determine the reasons. Intended outcomes may not be achieved due to poor implementation, unforeseen circumstances, or a wrong ToC, all of which help us learn and improve.

Ex post impact assessment

Ex post impact assessment in research refers to the use of specialized methods to estimate changes in selected development parameters and the extent to which these can be attributed to defined research activities, interventions or innovations. Quantitative approaches typically seek to compare a “treatment” group with a “control” or “comparison” group that represents what would have happened if there had been no intervention (i.e. the counterfactual). These approaches can be challenging to apply in the complex, multistakeholder systems in which FTA works, and with the kinds of technical and social interventions FTA provides. MELIA deals with these challenges in three ways.

First, where possible, ex post impact assessment is integrated into the research design itself. This involves testing interventions using specific experimental and quasiexperimental designs to scientifically document not only what works but also where it works, for whom, how, and at what cost. The effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of technical interventions and even social interventions can be evaluated, for example, by randomly assigning groups to specific treatment conditions or, at a minimum, comparing impact-related measures and other data on both the treatment and comparison group, before and after the intervention. Opportunities are generally more limited with unplanned (retrospective) impact assessments, but it is possible to establish plausible comparison groups through, for example, ex post village-level matching, combined with the reconstruction of baseline data and the application of appropriate econometric modelling approaches.

Second, FTA does ex post impact assessment work at appropriate (generally small) scales and/or with a focus on proximal (intermediary) impacts. Impact assessment results can then be used to support and inform scaling up and out processes and provide key inputs into ex ante assessments that seek to estimate the impacts of larger scale adoption.

Third, ex post impact assessment is integrated with other monitoring and evaluation tools and approaches in an effort to develop a full understanding of change processes, outcomes and the role of FTA research in those processes.

Indicators, monitoring and reporting progress

Monitoring is a key element of FTA’s adaptive, learning-oriented approach from project to program level. In traditional project management, monitoring has focused primarily on tracking project implementation, to determine if planned inputs and outputs have been achieved on schedule, so that action can be taken to correct deficiencies as quickly as possible. The FTA monitoring approach emphasizes outcomes. As part of the process of developing project and program theories of change, intended outcomes and indicators of those outcomes are identified and monitored.

There is a suite of monitoring tools for use at the project scale that are light, user-friendly and time-efficient. They aim to collect a variety of information about the uptake, use, influence and outcomes of project work. These data collection tools are designed to be applied as appropriate by project teams on an ongoing basis throughout the life of a project and during/after key events (e.g. forums and conferences). Collectively, such data facilitates project reporting, provides real-time feedback on progress and provides a robust evidence base to help demonstrate project achievements.

At program scale, we are interested in larger, collective outcomes over time. These are specified at the sub-Intermediate Development Outcome (IDO) level: uptake and use of FTA research and consequent behavior change in terms of improved policy and practice in international governance, national governance, the work of conservation and development organizations, and corporate and individual private sector actions. FTA has a set of indicators of uptake and use by key intended users as defined in the ToCs. A subset of these overlap with, and are counted as part of, the CGIAR-harmonized (sub-IDO) indicators, and others are unique to FTA.

A student reads in a university’s botanical gardens in Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo by A. Fassio/CIFOR
A man rakes over cacao beans, as part of the gathering and fermentation process. Photo by M. del Aguila Guerrero/CIFOR
Forest genetic resources

FTA scientists contributed to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) 2014 report on the State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources and associated Global Plan of Action for Conservation, Sustainable Use and Development of Forest Genetic Resources via four thematic studies, including a book on Genetic Considerations in Ecosystem Restoration Using Native Tree Species.

The reports and a series of worldwide workshops that FTA scientists attended as expert advisors led to a call at the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 2014 COP for “due attention to both native species and genetic diversity in conservation and restoration activities”. The thematic studies were also published as a journal special issue, Global Forest Genetic Resources: Taking Stock. FTA scientists also played a key role via regional networks in helping countries translate the Global Plan of Action into implementation plans for Asia and the Pacific (APFORGEN) and in Sub-Saharan Africa (SAFORGEN), with specific follow-up actions agreed by the involved countries.

A provincial forestry service head studies the evolution of wooded areas in Burkina Faso. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR
Trees for food security

A project led by World Agroforestry (ICRAF) – the trees for food security (T4FS) project – was able to show how over 30,000 farmers had been reached with new tree options in three years, through a combination of widespread participatory trials with national partners and the development of community-based rural resource centers (RRC) to multiply and disseminate quality tree germplasm and knowledge about how to incorporate it on farms.

This is now leading to national coinvestment in larger networks of RRCs, the use of social network analysis to accelerate the spread of successful options among farmers and more diversity in the options promoted through government extension systems.

Agroforestry in Vietnam

The Agroforestry for livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Northwest Viet Nam (AFLI) project has contributed to significant policy outcomes and financial impacts, demonstrating the importance and impact of tree-based systems, as further emphasized by the Program on Forests (PROFOR) through the cases of Malawi and Rwanda.

Tree technologies in southern Africa

FTA activities in southern Africa have reached over 120,000 farm households with fertilizer tree technologies (promoting Faidherbia albida trees in fields). Fields with trees show 11-14 percent higher yields than those without, equating to an increased grain yield of 200 kilograms per hectare per year, which is more than enough extra grain to feed a child for a year.

Organic margarine

ICRAF’s Allanblackia domestication program implemented under the Allanblackia Partnership led to Unilever launching the very first organic margarine, under the brand Flora Ekologisk, in the Swedish market. This unique public-private partnership seeks to develop a sustainable Allanblackia oil supply chain through domestication, where smallholder African growers are the drivers of the supply chain rather than large plantations. This approach is likely to help restore degraded forest landscapes and safeguard invaluable indigenous genetic resources.

FTA’s participatory domestication approach has ensured that over 500 superior accessions are established in four gene banks; protocols for vegetative propagation have been developed and field tested; 10 large-scale nurseries have been established, and over 100,000 superior trees have been delivered to farmers. Project stakeholders have benefited from specialized training programs on the sustainable use of Allanblackia genetic resources, propagation and nursery techniques, seed collection and knowledge on Allanblackia sex ratio determination.

This unique capacity developed for key stakeholders, such as the Tanzania Novel Development Company (NDTL), has led to the Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT) certifying the Allanblackia oil supply chain as meeting its sustainability standard in 2014. NDTL manages the Allanblackia supply chain in Tanzania where at least 5,000 seed collectors, 50 percent of whom are women, are involved in wild collection.

Changing forest definitions in Peru

In Peru, FTA research has led to a change in the legal definition of agroforestry. Forest definitions have been revised to recognize agroforestry as a valid land use type that deserves policy support. This new definition allows 450,000 smallholders to sell timber legally from their fallow plots, thereby increasing their income and eliminating risk of prosecution. When fully implemented, this will affect the livelihoods of over 2 million people and a land area of over 4.5 million hectares of the Peruvian Amazon.

In addition, the Government of Peru, with support from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and FTA researchers, developed its nationally appropriate mitigation action plans for agriculture, allowing for a particularly important role of tree-based systems in calculating greenhouse gas emissions.

India adopts a national agroforestry policy

In India, FTA partners are currently involved in the technical group for achieving the Agroforestry Mission, created as part of the country’s agroforestry policy. India was the first country to adopt a national agroforestry policy in 2014, with support for the process by FTA and the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM) scientists. The historical segregation between forestry and agriculture as policy domains was identified as the primary constraint. It is still too early to estimate the full impact of the implementation of the policy, but thus far, 18 states have changed the laws that had so far blocked mass adoption of agroforestry, especially involving smallholder timber production and marketing; eight states, representing 39 million landholdings, now show significant public and private agroforestry investments.

Assuming only 30 percent of landholdings (households) use agroforestry practices, at least 11.7 million households, representing about 11 million hectares, are already benefiting from changes arising out of the policy. The strategic investment of FTA support has had a huge multiplier effect on financial resources: at the federal level, India committed about US$410 million (2016-2020) of federal and state government resources to implement the agroforestry policy accompanied by a new “% of green cover” criteria for allocating an additional US$9 billion funds to states. India identified agroforestry as the major tool to fulfil its nationally determined commitments (NDCs) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Men process wood at a facility in Cameroon. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR
Global governance, trade and investment

Through FTA work on Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEGT), certification and domestic timber markets, research has informed the debates about the implementation of the European Union’s timber policy in Central Africa and Indonesia.

Emphasis has been on understanding the impacts of formalization, derived from implementing legality verification systems, in domestic markets. Research has made visible the magnitude of the impacts of the domestic timber sector on income and livelihoods, and examined options to leverage the potential of markets for small-scale logging and chainsaw milling.

By informing regulatory framework change in producing countries, FTA played an active role in a number of countries – either voluntary partnership agreement (VPA) countries (i.e. Cameroon, Indonesia), or non-VPA countries (i.e. Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Peru) – in informing changes and/or adjustments of regulatory frameworks, as shown in Table 1 (numbers represent some conservative figures of likely impact achieved).

Table 1. Influence of FTA in Policy and Regulatory Frameworks in the Timber Sector
Country Policy influence Time when change occurred Approximate # of beneficiaries (HH) Forest area (M ha)
Bolivia (a) Introduced regulations and incentives for undertaking integrated forest management in the northern Amazon 2012-2015 5,000 0.9
Cameroon (b) Introduced incentives in the regulatory system to informal local forest users 2010 – ongoing 4,000 6.5
Ecuador (c) Improved incentives for SFM and forest restoration for forest restoration and avoiding forest degradation 2013-2015 3,500 0.2
Guatemala (d) Supported incentive systems to favor business operations in forest concessions 2015 1,000 0.8
Indonesia (e) Introduced a step-wise approach for implementing the legality assurance system (SVKL) by type of producer 2013-2014 200,000 2.0

Notes: a. Pacheco et al. (2016); b. Cerutti and Lescuyer (2011); c. Mejia et al. (2015); d. Rodas and Stoian (2015); e. Obidzinski et al. (2014)

In Indonesia, FTA supported small-scale furniture producers in the district of Jepara (120,000 workers, US$800 million of annual trade) in organizing participation in furniture tradeshows in Jakarta and internationally; establishing a furniture maker association; constructing a web-based selling system, securing timber supply; and qualifying for the Timber Legality Assurance System (SVLK by its acronym in Indonesian). The association became the main platform for training and facilitation activities, and served to attract the attention of the local parliament. Association members earn 20 percent more than non-members do. The research team drafted a “Jepara Furniture Roadmap” which was adopted almost verbatim into a local law.

Proformal illegal logging

FTA’s partner institution, CIFOR, influenced the drafting and implementation of a new policy manual designed to organize the national timber market (MIB), which will contribute to better management of Cameroon’s domestic timber market.

For decades, Cameroon’s forest policy focused on large-scale forest concessions mainly oriented to Western markets. The domestic timber market had never been on the agenda of Cameroon’s Ministry of Forest and Wildlife (MINFOF). The volume of timber sales in the local market, as well as the national consumption of sawn wood had not been officially recorded.

This project, led by CIFOR, was designed to improve knowledge in this sector, especially with regard to improved regulation that would facilitate the integration of the domestic timber market into the sustainable forest management agenda of the government.

About 2 million m3 of the round wood coming from artisanal chainsaw milling flows into the national market. This volume represents about 50 percent of national production. In terms of jobs, while 13,000 people are employed by the formal industrial sector, about 45,000 people are affected or employed by the artisanal informal sector both in rural and urban areas. As such, this project had the potential to positively affect half of Cameroon’s national timber production and thousands of people who had been, or were continuing to be, penalized by Cameroon’s legal framework.

Mainstreaming charcoal production and trade into forestry policy in Zambia

CIFOR-led multistakeholder research and iterative consultation processes have broadened the policy debate around charcoal production to include the livelihood implications of regulating the industry.

Current policy stigmatizes charcoal producers; emphasis is placed on the environmental impacts of charcoal production with little being said about its contribution to livelihoods. What is needed is a policy that ensures that charcoal production is not only environmentally sensitive but also recognizes the contributions made to livelihoods of rural people. FTA research and activities have contributed to processes that facilitate policies that will encompass livelihood considerations.

The charcoal trade is a major driver of deforestation in Zambia. Commonly consumed by poor semi-urban households, charcoal is a cheap energy source. However, producers are not formally organized and obtain feedstock for charcoal making from open forests through user rights. With serious poverty issues in most rural areas in Zambia, producers claim that charcoal production is central to their livelihoods.

Permission to make charcoal can be obtained from the Forestry Department with recommendations from the local chief, but while some producers know about this legal provision, others do not, or find the process cumbersome. Even when production permits have been issued, follow-up and monitoring by the Forestry Department has not been undertaken. Thus, the lack of clarity around policy issues governing charcoal production and trade has led to forest losses, which will continue unabated if new policy measures are not put in place. Such measures are only possible if the subject is openly debated.

Charcoal production and trade employs close to 500,000 people in Zambia and this is likely to increase with deepening poverty issues, resulting in more forests being cut for charcoal. It has been estimated that charcoal production contributes close to 30 percent of the country’s current rate of annual forest loss (300,000 hectares per year). A forest policy framework that promotes sustainable charcoal production and meets the livelihood demands of rural people is therefore essential.

Fire and haze in Indonesia

A study conducted by CIFOR has provided insight for policymakers on how fire causes losses for many while benefiting few, and demonstrated that policies should move from fire suppression to prevention.

FTA research and activities conducted by CIFOR have ensured that decisionmakers have an understanding of the on-the-ground dynamics (economic, social and political) that cause fires in Indonesia, and have encouraged the Indonesian Government to place fire prevention strategies onto their agenda.

Forest and land fires have been occurring in Indonesia over the last 17 years. The biggest fire event occurred in 1997, causing significant economic and health losses – millions of people were affected by respiratory disease. The damages were conservatively estimated to be US$4.47 billion in Indonesia alone.

There have been a number of studies conducted that have sought to understand how and in what ways fires are used in various land-based activities, including the impact of fire on humans, forest biodiversity and ecosystem services.

The Indonesian Government has made efforts to curb and prevent fires. However, poor governance among institutions at different levels is still a challenge and as a result forest fires have become a large-scale disaster. Possible prevention measures, such as canal blocking, are known but their implementation is limited.

Brazil nut-rich forests in Peru

FTA work has helped maintain the standing value of Brazil nut-rich forest in Peru for livelihood outcomes, while contributing to not less than 120 million tons of avoided carbon emissions.

FTA research has generated novel biophysical evidence to optimize multiple forest use in Brazil nut concessions showing that the harvest of up to two timber trees will not compromise Brazil nut production. In Peru, 1 million hectares of Brazil nut-rich forests are managed on a 40-year concession system granted to local harvesters. Logging is theoretically forbidden but rampant and uncontrolled. By setting empirically based timber-harvesting limits, FTA research contributed to optimizing timber and non-timber forest product uses in highly biodiverse Western Amazonian forests.

These findings, which have been included in the current technical norms governing timber extraction in Brazil nut concessions, generated a forest policy change in early 2016. Brazil nut concessions store the largest aboveground carbon in the country (about 120 tons of carbon per hectare). This research covered 2 million hectares of Brazil’s nut-rich forests, among which 100,000 hectares of “conflict lands” were at a very high risk of being cleared for agriculture.

Sustainable forest management in the Congo Basin

An independent contribution analysis has shown that work started 20 years ago by FTA partners in the Congo Basin made a necessary contribution to sustainable forest management policies in the region in the form of development and adoption of forest management plans (FMP) as integral components of national policies. This contributed to up to 730,000 tons of avoided carbon emissions annually and more than 20 million ha of better-managed forests. A recent, more detailed economic analysis published by FTA scientists shows that the impact of management plans in Cameroon alone between 2004 and 2009 in terms of carbon left standing as healthy, living trees is 1,809,756 tons of carbon.

Bushmeat research in Peru and Colombia

Through the work of the Bushmeat Research Initiative, FTA work on community-based management of hunting has resulted in improved forest management through participatory management of wildlife, local certification and the creation of local hunter associations over more than 1.2 million hectares of lowland Amazonian rainforest in Peru and Colombia. FTA also provided technical support from the initial diagnosis phase to the development of management plans for three local communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which have now been granted the rights to manage their land as community forest concessions partially designated for hunting purposes.

FTA work on bushmeat was instrumental in the CBD COP decision XIII/8: “Sustainable use of biodiversity: bushmeat and sustainable wildlife management” that “[e]ncourages Parties and other Governments, as well as relevant organizations, to consider and implement, as appropriate, the road map [developed by FTA scientists] for better governance towards a more sustainable bushmeat sector…”.

Capacity development in the Democratic Republic of Congo

With funding from the European Union, FTA partners developed a strategy to improve governance by building capacity in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This included developing an innovative natural and social science Master’s curriculum and an international PhD program, realized through multiple partnerships with, notably, the University of Kisangani and other universities and research organizations in France, the United Kingdom, Canada and Belgium. The DRC has the world’s second-largest area of contiguous tropical forests, after Brazil. In 2005, the country’s entire forestry research cadre comprised just six persons with Master’s Degrees (in comparison, Brazil’s EMBRAPA boasts more than 8,500 PhDs).

By the end of 2016, FTA partners had trained 119 MSc students and supported 25 PhDs. A new project “Formation et Recherche dans la Tshopo” (FORETS), funded as part of an 11th European Development Fund program in the DRC, will train an additional 60 Master’s and five PhD students between 2017-2021. These have been complemented by innovations in terms of novel teaching methods, the development of new Master’s curricula materials, the development of an electronic library, joint local and international supervision of students, an annual Science Week event and article-based theses. The Ministry of Higher Education (MINESU) has since adopted the “Science Week” model for all universities and faculties in the country.

The approval of the district regulation on confirmation, recognition and protection of Ammatoa Kajang

The AgFOR-Governance team (CIFOR and a Balang nongovernmental organization [NGO], hereinafter called AgFOR-GOV) facilitated a multistakeholder collaborative process to develop a Peraturan Daerah (PERDA) recognizing the Kajang indigenous people of Bulukumba, South Sulawesi. AgFOR-GOV supported the PERDA process through to the final approval by the District Legislative Assembly (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Daerah/DPRD).

Previously, in 2008, the Government of Bulukumba (at the behest of the Forestry Agency who asked Universitas Hasanuddin [UNHAS] for assistance) initiated a process to draft a district regulation (PERDA) recognizing the Kajang people and customary forests. The effort failed because of the absence of a suitable legal framework, a lack of public participation and limited bureaucratic support.

The indigenous Kajang people in Bulukumba, South Sulawesi deeply value forests as a pillar of their belief system. They have created a semiformal governance structure to manage their forests, combining complementary customary law and formal surveillance/enforcement practices. The forests they manage contain old growth and lucrative species, in contrast to the state-designated protection forest (hutan lindung) in a neighboring subdistrict, which has been rapidly converted into settlements and nonprotection uses.

However, in the past 30 years, the Kajang people have experienced territorial decline. In the 1980s, 331.17 hectares of their sacred forest Borrong Lompoa was designated limited production forest (Hutan Produksi Terbatas), thereby conferring management authority on the state.

Numerous private parties have since expressed interest in converting and cultivating these lands. Larger areas in the region have also sparked controversy in the past, particularly with regard to the rubber plantation by PT Lonsum, a corporation that manages over 5,000 hectares through leasehold (Hak Guna Usaha).

Tensions between the customary group and the company over land rights have resulted in repeated protests and violence in the past. Numerous community, civil society and government actors fear a return to hostility in the future. These stakeholders have proposed legal recognition and mediation efforts to defuse tensions.

The main outcome of PERDA approval reaches beyond formal designation, and more importantly, serves to increase the understanding and capacity of key stakeholders to engage in participatory governance well beyond the project period.

Logs are transported along the Katingan River in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo by S.Deni Sasmito/CIFOR

FTA work on climate change has contributed significantly to the agenda at subnational, national and international levels, and has built on work started in 2011 at the onset of FTA Phase 1.

FTA developed a stepwise approach as a capacity-building framework to allow all countries to join REDD+ at their own level of ability. The approach comprises nine key aspects and four knowledge areas, combined in three gradual steps which increase in the quality of detail.

FTA scientists contributed to international expert consultations that led to a decision by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Durban, 2011, to adopt the stepwise approach to setting forest and emission reference levels (UNFCC Decision 12/CP17); this was reaffirmed at COP19 in Warsaw in 2013 (Decision 13/CP.19).

FTA partners were directly involved in writing up the Indonesian National REDD+ strategy. FTA scientists provided new peatland emission factors, informing the Government of Indonesia’s decisions on its forest moratorium and in defining its forest reference emission levels (FRELs). The Indonesian Ministry for National Development Planning mandated the use of the LUWES/LUMENS framework in all provinces (currently in use in 30 out of the 33 provinces) for land-use planning for low-emissions development.

The main attributes that allowed FTA to play this role include the fact that FTA partners are seen as belonging to respected research organizations; and that its senior/principal scientists are experts on climate change issues and have in-depth knowledge of policy processes. These factors were key to influencing national REDD+ policies in Indonesia. FTA has followed up with the development of the Indonesian National Carbon Accounting System (INCAS), officially launched at the 2015 Global Landscapes Forum in Paris. An independent review by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) of FTA’s work on REDD+ is documenting in detail several of these outcomes and other stories of change.

Sustainable wetlands

An independent evaluation of the impact of the Sustainable Wetlands Adaptation and Mitigation Program (SWAMP) on the logging moratorium concluded that the policy has been largely ineffective in decreasing deforestation to date. It also showed that if the moratorium were to achieve full protection, Indonesia could avoid the release of 10–20 million tons of carbon dioxide over the next 15 years, which corresponds to a mean social value of $402–805 million using a $40/ton social cost of carbon.

With SWAMP’s timely knowledge generation on tropical wetland carbon dynamics, scientists estimate that $4.03–40.26 million worth of social benefits can be attributed to FTA research. Furthermore, through its involvement in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Wetlands Supplement and the Blue Carbon Initiative, SWAMP stands to positively influence the future of 45 billion tons of carbon stored in non-Indonesian tropical peatlands and the global extent of mangroves.

Deforestation monitoring system

The Terra-I program – a remote sensing-based deforestation monitoring system jointly funded by Global Forest Watch and FTA – filled important gaps in near real time forest monitoring for the tropics in 2016. Terra-I feeds unique 250-meter spatial resolution deforestation alerts to its main portal and five other forest monitoring information portals. Since 2014, TERRA-i Peru has been the official early warning system for land cover and land-use change in Peru. In 2016, the system was expanded beyond Latin America to the entire global tropics and the frequency of deforestation alerts was reduced from three months to one month. The Terra-I team’s work has also included major new initiatives in Cambodia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam that encompass new case studies, training and fundraising.

Media training in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The work of FTA partners has increased awareness among journalists and editors of the intrinsic interest in, and importance of forestry issues, and related newsworthy angles and subject material.

This has led to improved and increased media coverage and public awareness of forests and climate change, which will lead to policy and behavioral change in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The DRC has the greatest area of tropical rainforests in Africa, covering more than 100 million hectares. However, forest-related themes are not often featured in the Congolese press.

One exception, however, is climate change. Though a relatively new topic for media professionals, especially in the Congo Basin, climate change has been increasingly placed on national, regional and international agendas.

In the DRC, training workshops and seminars have been organized to keep researchers and others up-to-date with climate change knowledge. Unfortunately, those working in the media have not been part of these initiatives. This void has been created either by the absence of in-depth analyses or the superficial treatment of related topics by the media, especially in the Congo Basin.

In a working paper published by CIFOR, an FTA partner institution, in 2014, REDD+ Policies in the Media: The Case of the Written Press in the Democratic Republic of Congo, an analysis of media discourse on REDD+ in the DRC between 2008 and 2011 was presented. The publication underscores the limited media discourse on the topic in the DRC. One of the reasons for this is the relatively new and broad nature of the subject matter, which ranges from ecology to politics and legal, economic and sociological issues. The unfortunate reality is that the effects of climate variation and climate change are visible and harshly felt, yet they remain absent from the agendas of many African countries.

This challenging situation is caused by the lack of human and financial resources and expertise in the various media organs of the DRC. Added to this, the reality of the Congo Basin subregion is that few journalism training institutions specialize in environmental reporting.

There was therefore an urgent need to bridge the gap between scientists and journalists, especially as capacity building is an important component of the Forests and Climate Change in the Democratic Republic of Congo (FCCC) project.

Nyimba forest project

In the Nyimba Forest Project (NFP) in Lusaka, Zambia, FTA’s partner CIFOR sought to effectively engage local communities in monitoring, reporting and verifying (MRV) local forest management interventions.

The aim was to contribute data to the formulation of a comprehensive national REDD+ strategy (NRS) for Zambia. This was the first research intervention to provide supporting data for the national REDD+ development process.

Through the NFP, the Government of Zambia aims to enhance participatory approaches and the role of traditional authorities in forest management and monitoring in high-value forests in open areas. The MRV process was developed to improve the participation capacity of local communities.

The project shows promising results. Communities in eight villages (Chinsimbwe, Luembe, Mwape, Ndake, Ng’ambwa, Nyalungwe, Pondani and Zuwalinyenga) actively participated in the project, recording the generation of forest and carbon stock volumes, and improving their knowledge of MRV.

The positive attitude engendered has prompted the villagers to produce their own village forest management action plans. It is expected that these results will help communities to manage village forests sustainably, securing the resource for almost 175,000 people.

Women make syrup from Garcinia Indica, a fruit harvested in the region of Western Ghats, India. Photo by E. Hermanowicz/Bioversity International
Gender, PES and REDD+

In Vietnam, research on women’s participation in payments for environmental services (PES) and REDD+ examined the extent to which national forestry, PES, and REDD+ policies address gender issues and the level of women’s participation in decisionmaking. FTA researchers shared their findings with key partners and end users, nationally and internationally. Scientists’ recommendations informed the national guidelines for gender mainstreaming in PES policies, and have been incorporated in the UN-REDD planning and the guidelines on “The Business Case for Mainstreaming Gender in REDD+.” This was one of 10 research projects selected and presented at the CGIAR International Conference on Closing the gender gap in farming under climate change: New knowledge for renewed action.

Gender and sustainable palm oil

Transforming the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil for greater gender equality and women’s empowerment: FTA prepared a report for Oxfam Novib and USAID evaluating the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) principles and criteria (P&C) and Guidance. The report is the basis of a “gender strategy” for the RSPO and for revisions that would enable greater gender responsiveness of the RSPO P&C and Guidance. It was used to organize a workshop by the RSPO Human Rights Working Group during the most recent RSPO annual meeting in Bangkok. It prompted some company representatives (BASF, Sime Darby, Agropalma) in the room to indicate their interest in becoming members of the RSPO Human Rights Working Group, and some in the newly established subgroup on gender.

The Sustainability Research Effectiveness Program, based at Royal Roads University, aims to improve the contributions that research makes to societal change. The program develops tools, methods, and approaches to assess change-oriented research, and investigates the relationships between research design, implementation, and outcomes to support learning for research effectiveness. SRE has a had a long and productive collaboration with CIFOR/FTA.

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