German bilateral development cooperation in the forest sector:

A critical reflection based on the analysis of forest-related development initiatives from Indonesia, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Publication - October 22, 2015
The conservation of rapidly disappearing natural forests in the tropics is one of the priority issues of international cooperation. Large amounts of funding have been pledged to projects claiming to protect forests, forest peoples, biodiversity, and to reduce carbon emissions. Germany, as one of the largest donors of funding for forests, not only exerts a significant influence over international processes such as REDD+, the Biodiversity Convention and UNFCCC, but also works bilaterally with recipient countries mostly located in the tropics. Since millions of hectares of forest and people are affected by the agreements made, this study analyses the nature and impact of German bilateral forest funding in an attempt to come up with meaningful ways to apply such funds.

The study focuses on Germany’s forest related Official Development Assistance
(ODA) and the bilateral programs in three case study countries: Indonesia, Cameroon
and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). These countries represent the spectrum
of situations typically addressed by the German forest cooperation in terms of
economic development, political stability, and deforestation dynamics. While DRC is
listed as a Least Developed Country and classified as a failed State, Indonesia is considered
a middle-income country with a stable democracy and Cameroon is deemed to be
in a somewhat intermediate position. Although forest cover in all three countries is still
considerable, deforestation rates are particularly high in the economically more developed
countries of Cameroon and Indonesia, where the share of cultivated land is also
the highest. Indonesia also has the largest areas consisting of degraded and secondary
forests, as well as a longer history of initiatives aimed at promoting sustainable forest
management. In all three countries, forests are not only important for the national
economies, but also for millions of poor, often indigenous, forest dwellers.
By analyzing reports, statistics and scientific literature (up to the end of 2014), as
well as information gathered during two to four weeks country visits, this report provides
insights into: (1) the role of forest funding within the overall ODA; (2) the strategies,
approaches and instruments applied; (3) the organization of German forest cooperation;
and (4) the effects of ODA on biodiversity conservation and local livelihoods.
The report is intended for policy makers and implementing agencies in Germany and
in other donor and recipient countries, international organizations, NGOs, companies,
carbon investors as well as the interested public.