Changing who gets to decide what in forestry
If REDD is going to succeed, and if locally controlled forestry is going to become a reality, then finding the practical ways in which forest governance can be improved is top priority. The Forest Governance Learning Group (FGLG ) has been working on this since 2003. FGLG is an alliance of in-country teams and international partners, facilitated by IIED, and currently active in Ghana, Cameroon, Uganda, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Indonesia, India and Vietnam. Preparations have begun for a team to start up in Tanzania.
FGLG aims to connect those marginalised from forest governance to those controlling it, and to push for better decisions. A shared belief motivates the Group: that with the right leadership, institutions, policy decisions and practical systems forestry can contribute more to the eradication of poverty and improve sustainability. The initiative has been supported since 2005 by the EC and the Dutch government.
In each country there are four interconnected parts to the work:
- Team of ‘governance-connected’ individuals from a mix of agencies with experience and ideas
- Policy work on forest livelihood problems due to people being marginalized from decisions
- Development of practical guidance and tools for making progress
- Creating and taking opportunities to make governance improvements
FGLG country teams are well networked, motivated and targeted in their approach – they carry out focused studies, network building, support uptake of governance tools, and take direct opportunities for governance reform.
Over 90 policy research outputs and tools and over 100 press, TV and radio advocacy outputs have been produced by FGLG to date, and we are currently working on a series of films about social justice in forestry. Major learning events involving all the country teams and other international players have also been held in Ghana, South Africa, Uganda, India and Malawi – and we will hold another event in Indonesia in early December 2009. Other inter-country capacity building work, and engagement with over 40 international organisations and forums, aims to achieve transfers of insight between locations, and to install findings in international policy.
This year, an independent evaluation of FGLG has shown that a wide range of forest governance decisions has been influenced and that this is beginning to have real impact on the ground. For example:
- Forest-linked livelihoods around Mabira reserve in Uganda are more secure after reversal of a presidential decision to convert forest to sugar plantations
- Rights and governance reform have been installed back on the agenda in Ghana by shaping the Voluntary Partnership Agreement on legal timber with the EC
- Small forest enterprises in South Africa can now operate in a framework of simplified, rationalised and improved policies
- Investments in locally over-exploitative logging deals have been questioned and prevented by highlevel action in Mozambique
- Increased access rights to NTFPs in state forest land have been secured for indigenous community groups in Orissa state in India
- Practical actions for locally beneficial community forestry are now better-enabled by governance frameworks in Vietnam
- New policy has legitimised and supported community-controlled logging at district level in Sulawesi in Indonesia
In January 2009 a new five-year phase of work began.
Four themes dominate the agenda: Forest rights and small forest enterprise; legitimate forest products; pro-poor climate change mitigation and adaptation through forestry; and trans-national learning and preparedness.
Project page: Forest governance learning group
Contact: James Mayers
See also: World Forestry Congress