Last updated April 2010 
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Background MLA

Poor and marginalized communities often suffer from the same decisions that damage forest biodiversity. This is because these communities are the principal beneficiaries of many forest goods and services. Outside interventions that affect forest landscapes and their biodiversity are seldom well anticipated.

To address the needs and interests of local communities, decision makers require a greater understanding of local needs. Merely talking to people may provide insights, but it is not always so simple. Furthermore, decision makers rarely commit themselves to consulting with inaccessible communities.

To address conservation issues, it is useful to ask "What needs to be saved and how?". But answers will depend on who is asked. Current global conservation priorities tend to reflect Northern norms rather than the interests of local forest dependent communities. This can lead to conflicts that do little to promote conservation. It is possible to find shared agendas and negotiate compromises among disparate interests through democratic processes, and identifying new conservation opportunities.

CIFOR's Biodiversity group therefore choose to focus on research and development of tools that assess the importance of biodiversity from the perspective of remote and often marginalised forest communities. A first survey was carried out and tested in Kalimantan, Indonesia in 2000. Since then, many others have followed, in all continents. Through this website we hope to present basic findings of these surveys and make databases and publications available.