Equitable Forest Revenue Management

Forest Revenue to Improve Livelihoods

Benefit sharing leading to poverty alleviation and improved livelihoods is a key component of our REDD project. The communities where we work in South-Eastern Tanzania are some of the poorest in the country, with the majority of people living below the internationally accepted line of absolute poverty ($1 per day). Income from sales of carbon credits and sustainable timber will contribute to improving community livelihoods and alleviating poverty. We estimate that revenue from the forests could eventually add 50% to the total village income in communities with substantial areas of healthy forest.

Our Approach

MCDI is committed to supporting lasting sustainable forestry and rural development in the areas where we work, and we believe that thorough and ongoing engagement with local stakeholders is critical to the success of this long-term approach. Our experience with Participatory Forest Management (PFM) has shown that it is most effective when the communities themselves are fully involved in every aspect of forest management, including monitoring activities and making key decisions about revenue distribution and management.

MCDI provides support and capacity building that assists communities to establish governance systems for effective, democratic control and decision making over proceeds from PFM. Specifically, we:

  • Sensitise village governments about issues of gender, youth and other disadvantaged groups, ensuring they are well represented in decision-making processes;
  • Training village leaders on simple financial management skills so that they can explain to their constituents how funds have been spent;
  • Support Village Natural Resources Committees to set up and manage bank accounts for timber revenues to be used and distributed at the village level, at the village level with direction given by the Village Assembly; and,
  • Promoting accountability and transparency with the Village Assemblies so that they are aware of the full range of options available to them and can help determine how funds get spent on community development projects.

See our REDD project report for impacts of our REDD project on village governance and local livelihoods.

Monitoring

We used household surveys to monitor socio-economic status in villages in our REDD project area in 2011 and 2014. This monitoring was structured to measure net social impacts on local people and compared villages already inside MCDI’s FSC group certificate (and earning PFM revenue) with villages participating in the REDD project (not yet earning revenue) and control villages. It considered a number of different dimensions of wellbeing and household wealth, from farm size and crop production to housing quality and source of lighting, as well as borrowing and lending. A report was produced, and MCDI intends to continue monitoring these communities using a similar approach so results can be compared over time.

We also developed a novel scoring system to monitor village governance. We are optimistic that the basic action of monitoring the communities will, to a degree, incentivise improvements as village leaders will seek to increase their scores. At the end of each monitoring visit the team concludes with a discussion as to what could be done to improve performance, with action points to be revisited in later monitoring.