FOCUS: Tracking impact
Identifying cause and effect in a complex world is a well-known challenge. However daunting, we have no choice but to enter the methodological maze, as policymakers, consumers, donors and tax payers demand to know whether interventions supported by them really produce worthwhile change.
The global forest community also has a strong interest in conveying the value of initiatives such as sustainable forest management certification, stepped-up forest research or governance reforms. Communicating a credible story of change can help combat fatalism regarding the future of the world's forests and embolden a new set of actors to invest in initiatives such as landscape restoration, climate-smart landscape planning and multi-functional protected areas. But how do we know what works? And with what level of certainty can we claim that certain interventions are responsible for associated impacts? Gathering the facts and establishing a theory of change is not straight-forward.
In the area of forest management certification for example, a recent stock-taking supported by PROFOR suggests that while many benefits of certification are undisputed, a lot more research needs to be done to provide quantitative information on environmental impacts. Advances in information and communications technology could help ease the burden of collecting data in the monitoring and evaluation of forest projects in the field -- PROFOR is currently looking at that topic, building on previous work on ICTs and forest governance. Aditionally, many forest projects are one step removed from the woods and deal with institutional reform and policy change. Mapping the influence of knowledge in this area is tricky but essential to ensure the accountability of global and national efforts to reduce poverty, increase resilience and combat climate change. Partnerships across forest research and policy institutions could help produce pragmatic approaches in this field at a reasonable cost.
UNFF-10 -- PROFOR staff will participate in a number of side events at the 10th Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests in Istanbul April 8-19, 2013. Themes covered include forest financing, landscape restoration and investing in locally controlled forestry. Seek them out.
Forests for Food Security and Nutrition - PROFOR is supporting the organization of several panel discussions during the International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition at FAO, May 13-15, 2013.
Congo Basin - On May 16-17, 2013, in Kinshasa, the Central Africa Forests Commission (COMIFAC) will be hosting a two day regional conference discussing policy responses to the drivers of deforestation identified in this PROFOR-supported report. Registration details here.
Speaking of impact and accountability...PROFOR recently held an Advisory Board meeting in Washington DC. The gathering of PROFOR donor representatives, observers and Secretariat staff provided an opportunity to discuss the progress achieved through various activities in the past calendar year and chart a work program for the year ahead. Learn more.
PROFOR also shared lessons from an activity financed in 2009-2011 that supported the establishment of a timber chain of custody system in Liberia. The resulting feature story mixes text, photos and video interviews to try to convey a fuller picture of the issues at stake.
Did you know? You are free to use and re-use PROFOR photographs and videos provided proper acknowledgment is given. The same goes for the hundreds of reports and presentations available on our website.