Frances Seymour to step down as leader of CIFOR in 2012


BOGOR, Indonesia (29 November, 2011) _ Frances Seymour, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), announced that she will leave the organization next June after leading it during six years of rapid growth and change.

The Chair of CIFOR’s board, M. Hosny El-Lakany, said Seymour has been instrumental in dramatically further raising the standard and visibility of work at the organization and its impact on forest-related policy worldwide.

“From this position of strength, I am sure that CIFOR will attract some of the world’s top talent to compete for the chance to lead the organization to the next level of performance and achievement,” he said.

Seymour joined CIFOR in 2006, after working for the World Resources Institute, World Wildlife Fund, Ford Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development.

“I believe that now is a good time for a leadership transition at CIFOR because the organization is so strong in so many ways,” Seymour said. “Thanks to the commitment of our staff and the breadth of our partnerships, we have achieved remarkable progress toward our goal of becoming the ‘go to’ place for information and analysis on key forest issues.  Our remaining challenges – such as more demand for our engagement than we are able to meet – could be seen as good problems to have.”

During her tenure at CIFOR, the organization doubled its budget and developed a robust new strategy for research and impact, which is now in its fourth year of implementation. The organization currently has about 200 staff, complemented by almost as many Associates and consultants, who are carrying out forest-related research in some 20 countries.

“CIFOR has a number of high-profile global comparative research projects at various stages of completion that are generating new knowledge and impact consistent with its mission,” Seymour said. “We have significantly enhanced CIFOR’s presence on the global stage through increased investment in communications.”

Seymour’s arrival at CIFOR coincided with the emergence of forests and climate change on the international agenda.  In 2009, CIFOR initiated a global comparative study on the first generation of efforts aimed at reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD), and is credited with contributing to significant policy development through convening an annual “Forest Day” in parallel to climate change negotiations and other outreach efforts.

Other CIFOR research initiatives that have come to fruition over the last five years span issues of forest environments, livelihoods, and governance.  These include:

  • enhanced understanding of the significance of forests to rural incomes;
  • reframing of bushmeat harvest as a food security issue;
  • illumination of the size of domestic markets for “informal” timber relative to exports;
  • analysis of the impacts of bioenergy development on forests and forest communities; and
  • insights on how tenure insecurity constrains mobilization of forest assets for community forestry and REDD.

Since 2006, the number of ISI journal articles published annually by CIFOR researchers has risen by about 50%, while the number of ISI citations has almost tripled to nearly 600, according to the Web of Knowledge. Likewise the number of CIFOR studies, policy briefs, journal articles, press releases and other documents downloaded from its website has tripled to about 700,000 each year, according to the web tracking service AWStats. In addition, there are now more than 1 million downloads of CIFOR publications annually from Google Books, according to statistics supplied by the internet service provider.

CIFOR is one of 15 centres within Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Last year, after a reform process within the CGIAR, it selected CIFOR to lead the system’s Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. The program is being implemented together with the World Agroforestry Centre, Bioversity and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, as well as other organizations.

“CIFOR is committed to ensuring that forests stay high on the political agenda, and that decision-making that affects forests is based on solid science and principles of good governance, and reflects the perspectives of developing countries and forest-dependent people,” Seymour said. “I am confident that CIFOR’s next leader will bring new energy and perspectives to further ensure delivery on these commitments in the future.”


The Center for International Forestry Research(CIFOR) advances human wellbeing, environmental conservation and equity by conducting research to inform policies and practices that affect forests in developing counties. CIFOR helps ensure that decision-making that affects forests is based on solid science and principles of good governance, and reflects the perspectives of developing countries and forest-dependent people. CIFOR is one of 15 centres within the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.

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