Making knowledge work for forests and people Annual report 2017

Message from the Chair and Director

Tropenbos International (TBI) believes that the sustainable use of forests and trees in tropical landscapes play a huge role in combatting the effects of climate change while also supporting people’s livelihoods and sustaining agricultural value chains. Forests and trees therefore are important components of a set of smart measures for the global community to take to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

In 2017 the TBI programme “Productive landscapes for sustainable economic development, food security and integrated water management,” funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, came to an end. In 2017 TBI began to implement the Green Livelihood Alliance, a strategic partnership with IUCN NL, Friends of the Earth NL and the Government of the Netherlands. And also in 2017 TBI also joined the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

This annual report informs you about a transformational change in the way TBI is organized. In 2017 Tropenbos International became a network organization with a secretariat in the Netherlands and six members on three continents.

Tini Hooymans & Rene Boot

Towards sustainable use of forests and trees in climate-smart landscapes

TBI envisions a future in which forests and trees are used in a way that benefits local people and the global community. By promoting the sustainable use of forests and trees in climate-smart landscapes in the tropics, TBI contributes to sustainable development and climate goals.

Promoting the role of forests and trees in climate-smart landscapes encompasses three inter-related domains: inclusive landscape governance; sustainable land use and production practices; and responsible business and finance. TBI’s work particularly emphasises the contribution of smallholders, local people, and small and medium entreprises, which results in these main outcomes:

  • smallholders adopt climate-smart practices in agroforestry and sustainable forest management;
  • local people — women in particular — participate more effectively in landscape-level decision-making processes; and
  • private companies better integrate smallholders and comply more with environmental, social and governance standards and commitments.

To achieve these results requires changes in the policies and behaviours of many stakeholders at various levels: landscape, national and international. A number of conditions need to be in place to enable climate-smart landscapes: the implementation of a sound framework of land-based policies, inclusive spatial and development plans; well-organised groups of smallholders and entrepreneurs; an active civil society; and a private sector that has committed to sustainable practices.

Governments implement effective land-based policies

National governments play an important role in setting the right conditions for achieving climate-smart landscapes. They can implement effective policies and programmes that help prevent deforestation and forest degradation, eliminate illegal logging, and promote reforestation and restoration. TBI supports governments at all levels to design and implement policies and legislation that promote climate-smart landscapes with and for local people and smallholders:

In 2017, TBI supported the government of Viet Nam with evidence-based information for the development of the country’s new forest law, which was adopted in 2017. For the first time, local communities are recognised as legal land owners and have a say in forest governance. Read more...

In Suriname, TBI organised consultations with indigenous and Maroon communities to make sure their knowledge and perceptions of the use of forest resources would feed into the government’s REDD+ programme. The information gathered was used to develop the national Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment. Read more...

In Indonesia, TBI was one of the participants in an innovative collaboration between local government, the private sector and civil society that supported the adoption of the Essential Ecosystem Areas decree in West Kalimantan. As a result, ecological corridors will be established that facilitate the movement of threatened species such as orangutans. Read more...

Local authorities make spatial and development policies more inclusive

Local authorities can contribute significantly to achieving climate-smart landscapes. To do so, they need to adopt spatial and development policies that recognise the rights and interests of local people. One important aspect of land tenure is secure access to land and resources for local communities and smallholders. Secure tenure arrangements will provide an incentive for more sustainable use of land and resources. They will also strengthen local people’s negotiation position when dealing with governments and large-scale producers. TBI supports local authorities and communities to actively participate in decision-making processes regarding spatial and development policies to ensure that their voices are heard and their rights are respected:

In 2017, TBI initiated participatory land use planning in Viet Nam to ensure that communities are involved in local government plans and their priorities are acknowledged. Read more...

In Indonesia the views of villagers regarding access to natural resources and development priorities gathered as the result of Participatory Mapping (PM) and Participatory Conservation Planning (PCP) exercises are now taken into account by district and provincial planning agencies in their spatial planning processes. Read more...

In Ghana, TBI succeeded in having natural resource management and climate resilience approaches included in the Medium-Term Development Plans of local governments. Read more...

In Bolivia the Central Indígena de Comunidades de Lomerío (CICOL), with the support of Instituto Boliviano de investigación Forestal (IBIF), is able to identify forest management as a territorial priority and reformulate general forest management plans. Read more...

In Colombia the knowledge documented by TBI and a traditional knowledge holder regarding the importance of the Chiribiquete National Park as a sacred site for indigenous groups contributed to the declaration of the park as a World Heritage Site. Read more...

The private sector adopts innovative business and financing models

The private sector is crucial for achieving climate-smart landscapes. Companies can contribute by adopting sustainability standards and commitments. Innovative models and financing mechanisms for integrated landscape management are needed in order to develop business approaches that conserve forests and trees, and to address the interests of smallholders and local communities. TBI — together with investors and private companies — designs innovative financing mechanisms and business models for smallholders:

In 2017, TBI triggered international debate about the role of the private and financial sectors through two publications and associated seminars in the Netherlands and Germany. The first publication focused on investments in smallholders and the second on the challenges of zero deforestation commitments

Civil society acts as watchdog and as partner in innovation

Achieving climate-smart landscapes is more likely if civil society organisations and community-based organisations have the capacity and information to carry out their important roles in the processes of change at the landscape level. TBI works with CSOs and CBOs as representatives of local communities and smallholders to train them to operate as watchdogs and as partners in innovation:

In Indonesia, partnerships were established between the community, an oil palm company and TBI with the purpose of developing new livelihood opportunities that supplement people’s income from working at the nearby oil palm plantation. Read more...

In 2017, TBI successfully trained timber producing communities and their organisations in Ghana to design Social Responsibility Agreements and hold timber companies accountable for complying with them. Read more...

Producer organisations of artisanal millers are better organised

Smallholders and local entrepreneurs will be more effective if they are members of forest and farm producer organisations (FFPOs). These groups are well organised to represent smallholder interests in negotiations with public, private and civic actors. In this way, the producer organisations can also contribute to a conducive context for achieving climate-smart landscapes. TBI supports producer organisations of smallholders to organize in associations and to obtain the right skills to be able to stand up for their rights, compete in the sector and comply with national and international standards and commitments.

In the past years, TBI has worked hard to support the artisanal milling sector in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) and Ghana. In both countries, artisanal milling is gaining acceptance as an alternative to illegal chainsaw logging. If artisanal millers are organised, this increases the chances that their voices will be heard and their rights will be respected. This in turn will contribute to national efforts to legalise the timber sector in the context of FLEGT-VPA, while also strengthening the domestic timber market. In 2017, important steps forward were taken in both countries.

Another significant success in Ghana was a new legal provision that grants artisanal timber millers logging rights to small areas of forests that do not qualify for conventional Timber Utilization Contracts. Read more...

Financial summary

In 2017, TBI received major programme funding from the Directorate General for International Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS) of the Netherlands, and from the European Union. A range of other donors also supported TBI’s work. TBI’s partners in the network provide substantial contributions in kind, such as office space and/or equipment. They also make researchers and relevant expertise available.

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