International Cooperative Initiatives on Biodiversity (ICIBs) are estimated to have realised about 260 million ha of forest areas worldwide, with an average increase of biodiversity of about 20% compared to traditional forest management. This is the result of a study executed by Bas Arts, Arjen Buijs, Hein Gevers and Thomas Mattijssen of the Forest and Nature Conservation Policy group (FNP) and colleagues of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL).
ICIBs are private, non-state initiatives to conserve or sustainably use biodiversity alongside activities of national governments and nature conservation organisations. Examples are citizens’ groups managing nature, community forest management projects that include biodiversity objectives, private landscape restoration initiatives, the re-naturing of and by cities, and voluntary sustainability standards that aim at making resource management and value chains greener.
Funnel-shaped assessment framework
Impact assessments, particularly at global level, involve many complexities and uncertainties. Therefore, the report pays ample attention to methodology. It introduces the ‘funnel-shaped assessment framework’ that postulates three levels: (a) number of initiatives realised by ICIBs (‘outcome’), (b) positive biodiversity effects attained by such initiatives (‘overall impact’), and (c) specific cases of such positive biodiversity effects (‘detailed impact’). By moving through these levels, more robust impact assessments can be made, although the report does not turn a blind eye to uncertainties and omissions.
For FNP, this study fits their research programme on nature and forest governance very well. Again, non-state actors are proven relevant for forest governance. For PBL, the study contributes to their evaluation tasks in that it shows governments that non-state action on biodiversity works, alongside what states do, and thus deserves attention and facilitation. For both, development of and reflection upon impact assessment is key.
The report is available here.