Initiatives to control illegal harvest and trade of timber are embedded within a far wider, multi-layered and highly complex forest governance framework. This framework crosses numerous policy areas and affects and is influenced by a wide range of different stakeholder groups. It is therefore necessary to understand the wider forest governance setting in which illegal logging and trade take place in order to design effective actions to address illegality, and to assess the effectiveness of those actions over time. However, currently there are few mechanisms in place to monitor and evaluate changes in forest governance at the national level.

This project aims to establish a “benchmark” on forest governance in each of the four project countries, identifying indicators to measure future changes to forest governance structures, and particularly those linked to addressing illegal logging and trade. This work will have the wider benefit of making available to all interested stakeholders an objective methodology for measuring the forest governance situation in their country, and that can be repeated over time to assess whether actions are having their desired impact.

Several models have been developed or are under development in order to measure or evaluate forest governance changes. The World Bank (2009) recently reviewed analytical frameworks for assessing forest governance reforms. Chatham House is developing forest governance indicators with a focus on illegal logging, with case studies in this regard recently completed by TRAFFIC for Brazil and Malaysia, and Transparency International has developed a forest integrity index. This project build on these experiences of these initiatives, utilising the FAO/World Bank/Profor framework as a starting point.

Recent experience gained by TRAFFIC in South America suggests that local stakeholders must be involved in the development of indicators, these cannot be developed externally as a “one size fits all” package. The project is therefore using a participatory process engaging public, private and other civil society stakeholders, including indigenous representatives, starting at the regional level with workshops to identify the framework and broad criteria common to the four countries of implementation, and then at the national level to identify more targeted country-specific indicators. The benchmarking methodology tool provides a mechanism for measuring changes in forest governance over time.

Once the benchmarking tool is elaborated, data will be collected for each of the indicators established as a ‘test’ measurement to ensure that identified indicators are relevent, useful and easily accessed. The resulting indicator suite will be assessed and a draft report on the benchmarking analysis will be prepared for consideration during consultation meetings in each of the project countries.

This tool and the associated study will support the efforts of project staff, the European Commission and other stakeholders as well as governments to monitor the progress of change in forest governance and illegal timber trade. It should be noted that this tool is not meant to highlight “the best and the worse”, but rather to create a common platform for the various stakeholder groups to consider and work towards developing a common framework, that is acceptable to all. The benchmarking tool and data will also be useful to other initiatives, e.g. REDD, by providing an initial description of the forest governance.

This project is financed by the European Union / Este proyecto está financiado por la Unión Europea