Time to improve impact evaluation of community forest management

File: Berau rainforest_TNCFitriaRinawati.jpg

Rainforest canopy in Berau, East Kalimantan – Fitria Rinawati, TNC

Many tropical countries devolve forest management to forest‐dwelling communities based on assumption that local knowledge of forests and community engagement will attain multiple social and environmental co-benefits. The practice-based review published in Conservation Science and Practice examines the implementation of Indonesian policies on community forest management and recent studies on the impact of such management.

The results indicate that positive environmental and social outcomes are not a given. The review found that the greatest benefits reported were environmental, with mixed outcomes for financial aspects, and a generally negative outcome for social and institutional aspects. These outcomes differed across the country. However, only 4 evaluation studies applied a rigorous counterfactual method examining the impacts of these programs compared to the counterfactual, i.e., the absence of such programs.

The authors demonstrate that it is increasingly feasible to determine the conditions under which community forest management will most likely achieve its social and environmental objectives. They argue that with insufficient guidance, recognition of land titles and transfer of forest management authority to communities may fail to attain overall environmental and social objectives. More monitoring of the social and environmental impacts based on appropriate counterfactual methods is required to build capacity to adaptively manage these policy programs across the tropical realm.

To find out more, access the article here: Toward improved impact evaluation of community forest management in Indonesia