Governing multifunctional landscapes in Sub-Saharan Africa: managing trade-offs between social and ecological impacts
The project addresses key knowledge, technical and policy gaps related to forest and land governance, trade in informal and legal timber products, deforestation-related commodity-based agribusiness, woodfuel and ultimately sustainable forest and land-use management and improvement of livelihoods. The action supports the FLEGT Action Plan (AP), as well other government- and industry-led processes in partner countries aimed at fostering good governance, decrease deforestation and improve livelihoods.

GML is funded by the European Union.

Most of the progress towards SDG 1 (No Poverty) and 2 (No Hunger) has been at the expense of natural resources. Forests and trees have been particularly hit, destroyed for agriculture or degraded by suboptimal management. Continuing this trend threatens the future of agriculture, and humanity itself. This is because, beyond the myriad of goods produced, forests and trees are also fundamental to sustaining food systems, ecosystem services and mitigating or adapting to climate change.

Managed well, forests, trees and agroforestry systems offer a unique opportunity to contribute to the 17 SDGs because of their spatial extent, the range of goods or services they produce or maintain, and the number of people depending on such goods and services. An estimated 1.6 billion people depend in part or in full on forests and trees outside forest resources for their livelihoods. The estimated value of ecosystem services stemming from forests, trees and savannas represents more than USD 76 trillion, compared to USD 9 trillion for cropland. Perennial tree crops and tropical forest products play a vital role in the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of households; sustaining rural livelihoods not only through the generation of incomes, but also by safeguarding food, water and energy security of the poor. They are also a primary source of export earnings and foreign exchange, representing hundreds of billions of USD for many countries, with important spillovers for local development.

It is increasingly recognized that by improving the management of those landscapes that sustain forests, countries will be better positioned to develop resilient, green and inclusive economies. This has resulted in a proliferation of governance initiatives seeking to promote the adoption of management practices that help protect, restore, or develop forests. This ranges from voluntary commodity-focussed approaches centered around voluntary certification systems and corporate self-regulation to green procurement and timber legality policies. This has given rise to a so-called regime complex, characterized by weak integration of regulations and coexistence of parallel and conflicting regulatory initiatives.

Within this regime complex, this project targets two major components. The first one relates to the various global efforts done over the past two decades to halt deforestation and forest degradation, and improve forest management, through timber legality policies and regulations, the most prominent of such initiatives being the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade Action Plan (FLEGT-AP). The second one relates to policies and initiatives adopted by governments, private companies and civil society organisations to improve the impacts of deforestation-related commodity-based agribusiness, to streamline and improve the efficiency of woodfuel value chains, and to manage and maintain forests that contribute to improved dietary diversity. Learn more about each of the components in the research themes section.