We undertake regular monitoring to assess the environmental, social and economic impacts of our initiatives over time. As far as possible, we maintaining a high level of community involvement in monitoring efforts. This helps to ensure that local people themselves understand what is happening in their communities and forests.
We collect ecological data that helps us to evaluate our effectiveness at conserving the integrity local forests and wildlife.
A key way in which we do this is by supporting participatory wildlife monitoring by village natural resources committees. They focus on looking and listening for signs of three indicator birds as well as rare, threatened and endangered mammals in their forest reserves, and assess differences in the numbers of encounters with these animals between different forest management units and vegetation types over time. This enables us to assess the impact that forest management activities such as sustainable timber harvesting are having on local wildlife, and to adapt our these where necessary.
We monitor the social impacts of our work on communities and individual households within these communities, through assessments of village governance and local livelihoods.
Together with our partner, University of East Anglia, we developed an innovative method to monitor changes in governance effectiveness in the villages we support.
This is based on a participatory scoring exercise whereby local people rate their community's performance (good = +1; medium = 0; poor = -1) against a series of criteria and indicators. These criteria cover nine key facets that can impact on forest governance effectiveness, including user cohesion, communication and awareness, forest product access and distribution, gender equity and conflict management. We then simply add up their scores across these criteria to generate an index from -1 (poor governance) to +1 (good governance).
Read a full description of the method and an analyses of the results from governance assessments we did in 2011 and 2014 here.
As part of developing more in-depth and holistic understanding of improvements in community livelihoods, we work with the University of East Anglia to monitor changes in household wellbeing at approximately three-year intervals. This involves a detailed questionnaire with questions relating to:
- Household structure, e.g. family size, including the number and status of male and female adults and children;
- Income from farming, forests and other sources, as well as ways in which this income is spent;
- Other wealth indicators, such as housing quality, fuel used for cooking and access to land;
- Access to enough quality food (food security), water, education and healthcare;
- Social relations, such as membership in community groups and attending village meetings; and
- Knowledge and participation in community-based forest management activities.
In addition to monitoring changes in the socio-economic status of local households, we keep a record of communal revenues generated through timber sales and how these are spent in all of the villages we support.