Monitoring and evaluation systems for integrated community forest management

IIED and partners supported the development of the Rainforest Alliance’s Integrated Community Forest Management Monitoring and Evaluation Tool.

April 2021 - December 2021
Duncan Macqueen

Director of forests, Natural Resources research group

Locally-controlled forestry
How IIED supports just transitions towards locally-controlled forestry that safeguard biocultural heritage, enhance entrepreneurship and improve prosperity within diverse and resilient landscapes
View of a forest

Community forestry in Guatemala (Photo: Duncan Macqueen, IIED)

Over the past 25 years, the Rainforest Alliance has successfully worked with forest communities to establish sustainable enterprises. These have improved livelihood benefits and safeguarded key tropical forest areas through sustainable forest management.

However, challenges in upscaling community forestry in tropical forests across the world remain. To address this, the Rainforest Alliance has formed Forest Allies, a community of practice focused on protecting, restoring and enabling responsible management of tropical forests.

Together, they have adopted a common vision of people and nature thriving in harmony called the Integrated Community Forest Management (ICFM) pathway.

The ICFM pathway supports community forest enterprises through developing training, tools and knowledge to create stronger social organisations, more secure governance of tenure and land use planning, more sustainable forest management, and more profitable enterprise development.

Rainforest Alliance approached IIED to help develop a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) tool that would demonstrate ICFM pathway progress towards ongoing and planned actions, improve accountability (in reporting to members of Forest Allies), while ensuring that interventions have a strong positive impact on the lives of Indigneous Peoples and local communities (IPLCs). It's lives and enabling rapid course correction when necessary.

What did IIED do?

IIED’s forest team and monitoring evaluation and learning (MEL) team worked in partnership with Rainforest Alliance and its Forest Allies members to develop a workable approach to M&E, as part of the ‘Analysing and recommending monitoring and evaluation systems for the Rainforest Alliance’s Integrated Community Forest Management (ICFM) Pathway' project.

We provided insight and analysis into the various applicable approaches for M&E to be potentially included in the Forest Allies initiative. Specifically, IIED:

  • Explored options for measuring social capital of forest communities, enterprise viability, forest quality (deforestation and degradation) and other key elements of the ICFM intervention, including the resource needs, advantages and disadvantages, and potential implications for each
  • Identified leading resources and tools relevant to monitoring and evaluating progress of the ICFM intervention, including but not limited to guides, indicator sets and data collection and analysis, and
  • Recommended an approach or combination of approaches to meet the MEL needs of the ICFM Forest Allies.

The outcome was the development of an Integrated Community Forest Management Monitoring and Evaluation Tool.

The tool aims to support local organisations to produce headline indicators that will help assess the reach of the Rainforest Alliance’s interventions in target communities over time, and to estimate outcomes progress to which we may have contributed through such interventions.

It has been field tested by the Rainforest Alliance in Indonesia, Guatemala and Cameroon and is now available on the alliance's website in English, French, Indonesian and Spanish.