Catalysing private sector investment in sustainable forestry and land use: Lessons from evidence and emerging practice

This synthesis report prepared by the Partnerships for Forests (P4F) Evaluation Manager (NIRAS-LTS International) looked at lessons from evidence and emerging practice around Catalysing private sector investment in sustainable forestry and land use. Key messages include;


  • Market demand for sustainable forestry and agriculture is growing, alongside international and national initiatives to facilitate a more enabling context for forest protection and restoration. Private finance and donors can play a role in unlocking finance through curating, testing and supporting the scaling of new business models and investment funds.
  • The theory of change for Partnerships for Forests starts with the development of (public-private-civic) Forest Partnerships to catalyse private sector investment in sustainable forestry and land use. The grants and technical advice from the P4F, creates partnerships which deliver initial finance to test and commercially scale new business models. In turn, this leads to changes amongst producers, catalyst companies and value chain actors, and landscape stakeholders, and benefits for these actors. With effective scaling and systemic changes, the latter facilitated through enabling conditions and demand side measures, this will contribute to reduced forest degradation and deforestation.
  • However, in seeking to realize the theory of change there are several risks and challenges, and potential for undesirable effects, given the complexities involved. At-risk assumptions of the theory of change include: the sufficiency of the magnitude of incentives for smallholder producers to sustainably intensify production and receive additional benefits and also refrain from forest encroachment; the business case for catalyst and mainstream companies to shift to sustainable production and forest protection; and the existence and efficacy of conditionalities and mechanisms linking incentives to forest protection goals. The socio-legal mechanisms which underpin Produce-Protect dynamics require action-research and evaluation, because there are risks that they are ineffective and Produce-Protect dynamics lead to negative forest outcomes.
  • Success for Forest-Landscape, forest-based value chain and restoration initiatives is highly context-specific. Simplistic notions of scaling through replication are inappropriate. Tailored approaches are required, although learning between initiatives can support lesson-learning. Investment in developing landscape actor capabilities, networks and collaboration is a priority. Emerging success factors include: Strong producer organizations; Provision of sustainable production services to producers; Adequate levels of land tenure security; Market rewards for sustainable production; Effective, equitable forest-landscape governance systems; Real-time monitoring and learning for adaptive management (forest cover and encroachment, and key livelihood, social and environmental issues); Effective disincentives for non-compliant producers with respect to forest protection legislation, sustainability standards and buyer compacts.

More detail is available in the full report. The report was completed in May 2019 to aid adaptive programming by P4F and to share findings and aid learning by others working in the same area as P4F.