World Resources Institute Presents a New Indicator Framework for Assessing Forest Governance

By Caitlin O'Donnell (Posted: November 22, 2013)

Last week, the Governance of Forests Initiative (GFI) at the World Resources Institute launched the revised GFI Indicator Framework, a tool for diagnosing the strengths and weaknesses of forest governance. This new and improved version of the original indicators is the culmination of several years of piloting, research, and revision by the GFI team and its partners. The Indicator Framework can be downloaded on the WRI website:

For civil society organizations working on transparencyparticipation, and accountability in the forest sector, the GFI Indicators can be a powerful tool for supporting their objectives. A GFI assessment can inform advocacy and research on a variety of forest governance issues such as forest tenure, forest law enforcement, or management of forest revenues. By identifying governance gaps in how laws and policies are designed and implemented, a GFI assessment can help advocates direct their work in ways that will create impact and address weaknesses in how forests are governed.

The indicators cover six thematic areas: forest tenure, land use, forest management, forest revenue, cross-cutting institutions (e.g., legislature, judiciary, executive agencies), and cross-cutting issues (e.g., the quality of public participation, public access to information, financial transparency). The indicators are organized by these themes to help researchers identify priority areas of interest. It is critical to note that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to using the GFI indicators; they are designed to be adapted to the needs of the user. For example, researchers can apply the indicators at different geographic scales or forest types. They can also choose to conduct a comprehensive assessment, or select a subset of indicators to complete. WRI has also created a GFI Guidance Manual that helps users design and implement an assessment that is tailored to their specific objectives. The manual also includes detailed explanations of each indicator and worksheets for data collection.

The GFI indicators have been used by civil society organizations in Brazil, Cameroon, and Indonesia to inform their work in the forest sector. For example, results of their governance assessments have been used to identify weaknesses in transparency and reporting in forest and environmental funds, build capacity of local governments on governance issues, and advocate for governance reforms in new REDD+ laws and programs. For example, in Cameroon, Bioresources Development and Conservation Programme Cameroon (BDCPC) and Cameroon Ecology used the results of their assessment to influence the development of Cameroon’s national roadmap for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). Through assessments of past forest zoning processes, the GFI partners revealed significant weaknesses in stakeholder participation and institutional coordination that informed their work around Cameroon’s REDD+ program. Using assessment results, they have worked to ensure that Cameroon’s REDD+ program establishes inclusive REDD+ governance structures and commits to monitoring critical governance issues during REDD+ implementation.

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