Community Based Forest Governance and Institutions in the context of REDD+ in Tanzania (2014)

Client Organization: 
International Forestry Research Center
Client is confirmed: 
Project Location : 
Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
Summary of Project Idea: 

Global forest loss due to land conversion for agricultural, urban, and charcoal uses is an increasing concern in developing countries. There is a clear need to address widespread deforestation due to the 1.6 billion tons of carbon being released into the atmosphere each year from these activities. Though regulation is one option for stalling deforestation, several voluntary forest governance programs have also emerged to address this issue, incorporating incentives and alternative livelihood options for local communities. Our research analyzes village level equity outcomes of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) program of the United Nations and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) group certification scheme in Tanzania as examples of such programs.

Enhancing equity is an objective for REDD+ and FSC both as a goal in itself and to increase the chances of success for both programs. For the purpose of this research, we define equity as a balance between the costs and benefits of participation and involvement in decision making and governance. Through an analysis of household and group surveys conducted in three villages in Southeastern Tanzania, we conclude that the spatial organization of a village and the type of payment distribution mechanism adopted are the most significant factors influencing perceptions of equity in the implementation of either REDD+ or FSC. Therefore, we recommend that nongovernmental organizations take into better account the way in which these spatial arrangements often create pre-existing inequities in communities, and design forest governance interventions such as REDD+ or FSC accordingly in order to increase the likelihood of program success and the realization of equitable outcomes.

Skills/Expertise Needed: 

Skills/Expertise Necessary:

  • Strong writing skills
  • Project planning and organizational skills
  • Natural science (ecological components): knowledge of terrestrial ecosystems
  • Social science (social and economic components): knowledge of poverty issues, community-based forestry management strategies, and governance institutions and issues
  • Basic GIS skills
  • Statistical analysis skills
  • Flexibility and cultural understanding/sensitivity
  • Desire to spend at least 2-3 months in Tanzania over the summer

Desired Expertise:

  • Fluency in Kiswahili
  • Experience working with NGOs in a developing country
  • Experience working in East Africa
SEAS Program Areas: 
Environmental Policy and Planning
Environmental Justice
Professional Career Development Benefits: 

Participants will gain experience:

  • working with NGOs and other partners in a developing country
  • creating and conducting household level and government level surveys
  • applying potential carbon mitigation strategies using forests
  • analyzing both ecological and social data to understand forest and community interactions
  • working with community-based resource management through social institutions and governance
  • creating public presentations or writing peer-reviewed journal articles
Funding Sources: 

International Forestry Resources and Institutions research network.  Applications planned to be submitted to Rackham, SNRE, and the Department of Afro-American Studies.

Identify expected products/deliverables: 

The project will culminate in a summary report outlining the degree to which Participatory Forest Management arrangements are meeting the three stated objectives of improving local livelihoods, contributing to effective forest governance, and enhancing forest conditions. The report will also assess the current state of REDD+ preparation and implementation in Tanzania, making recommendations to national policy makers concerning the ways in which REDD+ project implementation can build upon the strengths of the current PFM structure for community-based forest management.

Contact full name: 
Meghan Cornwall
Ann Arbor
State or Country: 
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Arun Agrawal
Contact Phone: 
(952) 913-2422
Advisor Confirmed: 
Contact e-mail: 
Contact information: 
SNRE student
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Karen Azeez, MS Environmental Policy and Planning
  • Meghan Cornwall, MS Envrionmental Policy and Planning/Environmental Justice
  • Katie O'Gara, MS Conservation Ecology/Environmental Justice
  • Brian Schapp, MS Environmental Policy and Planning
  • Louis Vayo II, MA Economics/MS Environmental Policy and Planning
Project Status: 
Past Project