Evaluating the impacts of investments in agroforestry operations Africa

Environmental, social and economic impacts of investments in certified plantations and associated industrial operations in Africa are evaluated using a value chain approach, comparison groups and counterfactuals over time.

Given this context, this five year study explores the impact of investments in plantations and associated industrial operations (such as charcoal, milling, poles, carpentry and wood-based products) in Africa. A value chain approach is used to investigate the impacts of the full range of company activities. These include the certification schemes engaged in the company, impacts on the environment, and social and economic impacts for different stakeholders: the company, investors, staff, local communities adjacent to the operations, suppliers, customers and other stakeholders such as local government and NGOs. The aim is to answer three main questions:

  1. What are the impacts of the industrial and plantation activities on (sustainable) business income?
  2. What are the impacts of the industrial and plantation activities on private sector economic activity?
  3. What are the impacts of the industrial and plantation activities on (sustainable) economic growth?

 A quantitative and qualitative (mixed method) approach is being used to evaluate impacts at  company level, community, regional/landscape, international and cumulative impacts of similar operations in the study areas. A suite of 17 indicators are used, which draw and elaborate upon generic indicators developed internationally by the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) and Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade (FAST). At community level, a comparison will be made  of communities who have benefited or impacted directly from plantations and industrial operations  – either through community development projects or from villagers who are employed by companies , with “control groups”: communities who have not been involved or benefitted. A counterfactual scenario will be developed and used to examine impacts for social and economic impacts, for industrial operations and stakeholders, such as suppliers and clients. The counterfactual also acts as a triangulation for community and workers. The method of evaluating impacts will be to measure and compare differences in the indicators between the baseline (2015/2016) and a second round of measurements in 2017/2018.