International Forest Governance

Task Force Coordinator:

Benjamin (Ben) Cashore, United States


Daniela Kleinschmit, Germany

Terms of Reference

The following proposed Terms of Reference (TOR) contain four sections:

  1. Rationale and objective(s);
  2. Activities and expected output;
  3. Schedule of activities;
  4. Task Force membership

1.    Rationale and Objectives

One of the most important questions of our times is to understand whether, when, and how, international forest governance initiatives might produce enduring and effective results for the myriad of social, environmental and economic challenges facing the world’s forests. These themes were highlighted in February 2011 when the IUFRO-led Global Forest Expert Panel (GFEP) released the results of its assessment on international forest governance. The Panel recommended that scholars and strategists embrace the concept of "forests+" which gears our attention toward inter-sectoral and inter-institutional linkages. Towards this end, new or adapted institutional arrangements are needed to strengthen and coordinate forest policy learning so that engagement and problem solving among diverse stakeholders can occur.

To address these questions, and as a concrete follow-up to the GFEP assessment, this "cross cutting" IUFRO International Forest Governance Task Force would focus on understanding how "policy learning" and "institutional intersection" might advance global efforts to impact and ameliorate on the ground challenges. These questions will be pursued by reviewing, and taking stock of "state of art" research on forest policy and governance in order to generate insights on the promise, pitfalls, and challenges of today’s "hot topic" forest governance instruments.  These include, but are not limited to, reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) and "good forest governance"/"Legality verification" interventions.  At the heart of these substantive focus will be to identify solutions for these efforts that might provide more enduring results than the well intended, but often short lived or relatively ineffective results of previous efforts affecting international forest governance.
We will also identify the most important research questions that emerge from our review for future research

Why policy learning and institutional intersection?

A plethora of research within forestry oriented scholarship (Cashore et al. 2010), and across resource and environmental policy in general (Sabatier 1988) has found, or asserted, that problem-focused policy learning across coalitions (Bennett and Howlett 1992) can reorient short term strategic calculations into durable support for long term oriented institutions.

Such an approach requires paying attention not only to the most appropriates standards, and policies, but to the motivations and incentives for support of such institutions (Vogel 1995).

However, the precise mechanisms for encouraging problem focused policy learning still need to be better understood. What we do know is that the answer is not as simple as generating dialogues to achieve consensus, nor simply "stacking" institutions and interventions. We have to know what types of dialogues promote problems over power, and what types of interaction contribute to, or ameliorate, long standing challenges. This requires much more careful attention to understanding better the causes of successful policy learning (Henry 2009) (Armitage et al. 2009; Reed 2008; del Río González 2008; Beratan 2007) (Clark et al. 2002) (Haas 2000) and institutional intersection across local, domestic and global scales (Levin, Cashore, and Koppell 2009) (Betts 2009; Young, Schroeder, and King 2008).

    Activities and expected outputs

Task Force Activities will be focused on bringing together leading scholars on specific challenges relating to forest policy and governance, "reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation plus" (REDD+), legality verification/good forest governance, and certification initiatives. Activities will focus reviewing the literature for what we do know about policy learning, conducting multi-stakeholder dialogues that incorporate this knowledge, as well as identifying new opportunities for scholarship and practice.

Sessions will be proposed to be held during major IUFRO conferences, as well as through side events during other key global initiatives, including Rio+ 20. State of the art knowledge will be developed and disseminated through publications in peer review journals, edited volumes in leading pressures and, arguably most importantly, the development of policy briefs that will be designed to reflect on the strategic policy implications of the scholarly reviews. If funding permits, we propose a "Wikipedia" type analysis where practitioners and scholars would be engaged productively in a discussion of the implications of the policy brief.

3.    Schedule of activities

The Task Force schedule will be developed consistent with activities and outputs that are linked to major IUFRO conferences and international policy events. For details, please visit our Activities and events page,

4.    Task Force membership

Decisions about Task Force membership would follow, to extent possible, the principles of GFEP: a) necessary areas of specialization to be covered; b) regional balance; c) cultural diversity; and d) gender balance. We also will seek a mix of senior, middle, and junior researchers. Task Force members could come from within and outside IUFRO. We will especially want to include officeholders from within Division 9 (especially Working Party 9.05.02 Forest Governance and maybe also from Research Group 9.06.00 Forest Law and Environmental Legislation).