Place forests under local control to increase incomes and sustainability

The following IUCN press release is about a report whose lead author is Duncan Macqueen, head of the forest team at IIED ([email protected])

News, 07 September 2012

Duncan Macqueen says: "Investing in Locally Controlled Forestry (ILCF) is an approach to forest sector investment that offers a triple win of acceptable returns to investors, secure commercial income streams to local forest-dependent people, and better prospects for forest protection. It is endorsed by three major alliances of indigenous peoples, forest communities and private family smallholders (who together control about 25% of the world forests)."

"The central premise of ILCF is that remunerative but fair asset investments into locally controlled forestry are possible but often require enabling investments such as (i) advocacy to secure and formalise commercial forest rights (ii) business capacity development – to convert those rights into self-sufficient businesses; (iii) organisation building – to achieve scale efficiencies and market negotiating power and (iv) deal brokering – to ensure that asset investors play fair with local groups. ILCF is a broader and better notion of investment for the world’s forests and forest dependant peoples.”

Full reference: Macqueen, D., Buss, C. and Sarroca, T. (2012) Investing in Locally Controlled Forestry: a Review of TFD's Initiative on Investing in Locally Controlled Forestry 2009-2012, The Forests Dialogue, New Haven, CT, USA.

IUCN press release

Place forests under local control to increase incomes and sustainability

To increase the incomes of many of the billion forest-dependent people worldwide the current model for investment in forests must be turned on its head. An initiative of unprecedented scale, led by The Forests Dialogue (TFD), IUCN and  the Growing Forests Partnerships (GFP), has found that optimizing the benefits and productivity of forests requires moving from a 'resource-led' model to a 'rights-based' system of 'locally controlled forestry', that places local control of forests at the heart of the investment process.

Over the last three years, The Forests Dialogue (TFD), partnering with IUCN, organized a series of country level dialogues engaging over 400 forest owners, investors, NGOs, governments and intergovernmental agencies. The resulting report, “Investing in Locally Controlled Forestry” [PDF], launched today at IUCN’s World Conservation Congress, shows that with the right processes in place, and under the right conditions, almost any individual or group can build a successful forest enterprise.

"A first step is to recognize that many forests and landscapes are inhabited by people with some form of land rights,” says Chris Buss, Senior Programme Officer for IUCN’' Global Forest and Climate change Programme “Investors are increasingly aware they must respect these rights through recognized processes, although the practical implications of such processes have until now received less attention."

The learning from this initiative demonstrates that these processes often result simply in compensation for loss of access to land or resources, rather than a genuine shared enterprise. In contrast, a 'rights-based' system places local control at the heart of the process. Under this system, the people who own or have rights over the forest are the ones who seek investors and partnerships for managing their natural resource assets.

"The rights-based approach recognizes local people’s autonomy and their rights to determine the land’s destiny and to gain income from its effective management," says Minni Degawan, Project Coordinator for KADIOAN, an Indigenous Peoples organization based in the Philippines. "Empowering local people to make decisions on commercial forest management and land, with secure tenure rights, the ability to build their own organizations and access to markets and technology can be a highly effective way of raising incomes and protecting forestry resources."

"Communities, governments and investors all stand to gain from investing in locally controlled forestry. However, launching a commercially viable enterprise is not without its own challenges and requires adjustments to conventional investment approaches," says Peter Gardiner, Natural Resource Manger for Mondi. "To facilitate this process, the Growing Forest Partnerships which includes IUCN and TFD have developed a practitioners’ manual, to be released later this month, which offers investors and rights holders a step-by-step guide to negotiating commercial agreements."

IUCN and its partners from Growing Forest Partnerships is also continuing to gather further information from ILCF projects around the world and exploring the possibility of launching a pilot project based on best practices.

Download the report


Duncan Macqueen, Forest Team Leader at the International Institute for Environment and Development

Tel: +44 (0)20 3463 7399

Email: [email protected]

Notes to editors

About IIED

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) is an independent, non-profit research institute. Set up in 1971 and based in London, IIED provides expertise and leadership in researching and achieving sustainable development (see:


About IUCN

IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges.

IUCN works on biodiversity, climate change, energy, human livelihoods and greening the world economy by supporting scientific research, managing field projects all over the world, and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice.

IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization, with more than 1,200 government and NGO members and almost 11,000 volunteer experts in some 160 countries. IUCN’s work is supported by over 1,000 staff in 45 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world.

About TFD: 

TFD, The Forests Dialogue, is an autonomous organization hosted by Yale University. Utilizing a multi-stakeholder dialogue process, TFD builds trust among leaders, shared understanding on complex challenges and collaborative solutions on the most urgent global forest issues.

TFD's ILCF dialogue initiative was created with the Growing Forest Partnerships (GFP), with the support of the World Bank. the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) also supported and funded part of this initiative. For more information about this initiative, please visit:

About GFP:

Growing Forest Partnerships (GFP) is about building up and supporting networks at local, national and international levels. Through this process, GFP seeks to improve the connections between forests and other sectors. It aims to ensure that global discussions about forests include the real and current challenges that forest-dependent people and local forest managers are facing, bringing the voices of local communities and indigenous peoples forward to influence decision-making.

There are four facilitating partners for the Growing Forest Partnership who are all members of a Catalytic Group that manages the process. The four partners are Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), IUCN, The World Bank and International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).