Assessing Impacts of Forest Governance Interventions

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The World Bank’s 2002 Forest Strategy laid down two bold targets, which it saw as the collective outcome of global efforts to promote Sustainable Forest Management, through improving forest governance. First, by 2012/13, a reduction of global illegal logging by 50 percent (from an estimated baseline value of $10 billion per annum); and, second, a 50 percent decrease in the estimated value of taxes, fees, and levies willfully evaded. However, there has been little systematic effort to assess the extent to which these targets have been achieved. This is a drawback (applicable not only to the World Bank but to other development agencies as well) as it limits our ability to learn from evidence and to apply the learning in designing effective interventions.


By looking at a suite of the Bank’s forestry programs and projects (which have significant forest governance components), this report identifies the bottlenecks to improve tracking the impacts of forest governance interventions and suggests ways in which they can be removed and the capacity for impact evaluation (IE) strengthened.


The report finds that most Bank financed projects track impacts in forest governance projects almost exclusively through log-frame approaches such as a Results Framework or a Policy Matrix. These have been used to measure progress toward project objectives through the use of performance indicators, coupled with baseline surveys and proposed target values. However, the ex-ante approaches to monitoring and evaluation in Bank projects typically do not try to establish attribution, nor do they systematically track spill-over effects (positive or negative) and leakages resulting from project interventions. They also do not consider the role of “confounding factors” that is, non-project influences, which can influence expected project outcomes. Finally, in most cases impacts are not monitored beyond the life-cycle of the project. Because of these shortcomings the Policy Matrix or Results Framework approaches do not fully measure the impacts of Bank interventions.

The current gaps in being able to measure impacts systematically should not be taken to mean that Bank financed interventions have not had any impacts. However, the need is to develop a culture of measurement whereby impacts are objectively and routinely measured and the learning potential through IE maximized. To this end the report recommends three broad actions:

  • Develop a compendium of practical techniques for IE in forestry and raise awareness among project task team leaders. This would demonstrate the value of starting with causal pathways linking the intended outcomes to the necessary inputs and outputs;
  • Enhance resources and improve opportunities to embed IE in project design and implementation. The Bank should consider “up-streaming” a discussion of tracking project impacts at the Project Concept Note stage; and,
  • Establish a community of practice (CoP) and a hel