WRI and partners developed tools to implement and monitor community-based natural resource management programs in Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These initiatives support sustainable forestry, agriculture and ecological land management in vulnerable areas, improving livelihoods.

The Challenge

Research from WRI and others has highlighted the importance of community and social forestry. In 2015, Indonesia launched an ambitious program to allocate 12.7 million hectares (31 million acres) of land to be managed by families and communities through social forestry schemes. In 2016, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) completed the legal framework allowing forest-dependent communities to obtain land rights. These initiatives have the potential to conserve and restore forests while improving livelihoods and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, implementing and monitoring such programs across vast, diverse countries is complex and challenging.

WRI’s Role

Preliminary results from WRI Indonesia's research demonstrated positive impacts of the social forestry program, such as decreased tree cover loss, higher income among farmers and fewer conflicts over land tenure. Building on these findings, WRI and partners supported the Indonesian government’s web-based social forestry monitoring tool and helped build capacity for working groups in 10 provinces, including South Sumatra.

In DRC, WRI helped draft the national community forestry strategy, finalized in 2018, which set up a five-year pilot phase for community forests. The Institute worked with the Ministry of Environment to establish a monitoring committee with representation from government, civil society, indigenous peoples’ groups and technical partners to assess progress against the national strategy. Because many DRC groups seeking community forest status have limited resources, WRI worked with local partner CODELT and the forest administration to develop templates, tools, and training to help with the application process.

The Outcome

In 2018, 9,710 households in South Sumatra received social forestry licenses covering more than 56,000 hectares (138,000 acres), bringing the total amount of land covered by these licenses to nearly 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres). This included the first forest to be managed under customary land rights in South Sumatra, for the indigenous community of Tebat Benawa.

In DRC, more than 40 community forests have been allocated and at least 250,000 hectares (617,000 acres) are now under legally-recognized community management for the first time due to the legislation passed in 2016. The work of WRI and partners on standardized templates and a national strategy helped drive the implementation of the legislation.