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Understanding Forests’ Contribution to Poverty Reduction

While knowledge is increasing about forests as a source of day-to-day subsistence and as a safety net in times of need, much less is known about the extent to which forests can provide a pathway out of poverty. Currently, there is no systematic understanding of how forests may help the chronically poor move to become sometimes poor, and the sometimes poor to become the non-poor.

This lack of knowledge is in part due to the measurement, valuation, and enumeration challenges that hinder information collection on the contribution of forests to household well-being. Economic valuation remains difficult and consumption of forest products is often not associated with market prices, meaning that their value is not captured in household surveys. The remoteness of many poor, forest-reliant households and the length of time required to complete many surveys are also barriers to collecting adequate information.

This activity will build on earlier efforts by PROFOR and other partners, first consolidating what is known on the potential contribution of forests to poverty reduction, and then identifying where information is weak and lacking, and where it is well established. The work will be done in partnership with the Center for International Forest Research (CIFOR) and the International Forestry Resources and Institutions network, and will involve:

(1) Creating a living library of methods for assessing how forests contribute to poverty reduction, by identifying both existing tools and those under development, and describing the pros and cons of the different approaches; 

(2) Developing and disseminating a forest-poverty app. This will build on existing apps that gauge household reliance on natural resources, and bring in previous experiences with mobile apps and communication technologies in measuring poverty; and

(3) Pilot testing the app in a couple of sites to assess variations in the data collected, generating information on the reliability of the different approaches.


The main outputs of this activity will be a review of existing knowledge and gaps around forests and poverty; a library of methods for assessing forests’ link to poverty; and a forest-poverty app. This activity is ongoing, and results will be shared on this page and used for awareness raising and mainstreaming into planning and policy.


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