The International Forestry Resource and Institutions research program (IFRI)


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The International Forestry Resource and Institutions (IFRI) research program is a long-term, interdisciplinary, international research network that is compiling a growing international database of cross-national, time-series data on forests, the people using forest resources, and institutions for managing resources. In this presentation, Tedd Webb from the National University of Singapore gives a brief overview of IFRI and of lessons learned from their experiences in data collection and governance in forest resource management research.

This presentation formed part of the CRP6 Sentinel Landscape planning workshop held on 30 September – 1 October 2011 at CIFOR’s headquarters in Bogor, Indonesia. Further information on CRP6 and Sentinel Landscapes can be accessed from and respectively.

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The International Forestry Resource and Institutions research program (IFRI)

  1. 1. The International Forestry Resource and Institutions research program (IFRI)Ted Webb, National University of Singapore
  2. 2. What is IFRI?A long-term, interdisciplinary, international research networkEstablished in 1992; now coordinated by Arun Agrawal at University of Michigan
  3. 3. What is IFRI?A growing international database of cross-national,time-series data on forests, the people using forestresources, and institutions for managing resources
  4. 4. IFRI’s Central Questions• How do alternative systems of governance and tenure affect social and ecological conditions?• What conditions favor collective action for the provision of resource management?• How do people respond to changing ecological and social conditions?• How do diverse actors – user groups, local associations, governments, interact & jointly affect forest conditions?
  5. 5. Data required across space and time Sites (Users – Forests) A ASPAC E B B C C D D TIME
  6. 6. Data collected at each siteCa. 2000 data points on:• FOREST CONDITION – Trees and shrubs – Forest extent and change over time – Signs of illegal activities• USERS AND GOVERNANCE – Formal governance arrangement – Organization of forest users – Activities of forest users COMMUNITY-LEVEL DATA (not household)
  7. 7. IFRI Conceptual Model and relational database ENTITY ASSOCIATION
  8. 8. Data comparability is paramount • Common data collection methods / forms • Extensive joint training • Multi-country teams whenever possible • Repeat studies • Extensive reporting to communities and relevant officials
  9. 9. Collaborating Research Centers
  10. 10. IFRI Master Database – Jan ’11 Visits per Total Sites Site 1 161 2 54 3 23 4 2 Total Sites 346**Planned interval between site revisits: 5 years**
  11. 11. Number of Site Visits by Country
  12. 12. Examples of what IFRI does best• Examine forest governance evolution and change• 1:1 User group : forest analysis, comparable over multiple sites and times• Evaluate broad parameters of “forest condition”, “sustainability” and “outcomes”
  13. 13. What IFRI does not do• Biodiversity monitoring aside from basic richness• Single-species assessments• Ecological research• Economic valuation• Landscape-level analysis
  14. 14. IFRI Forests: area distribution 60 Number of Forests 50 40 160 30 20 140 10Number of Forests 120 0 100 Forest Area (ha) 80 60 40 20 0 Forest Area (ha)
  15. 15. Most sites have ≤ 30 forest plots (expensive) Tree plots = 10m radius Sapling plots = 3 m radius 30 tree plots = 0.94 ha 30 sapling plots = 848 m2
  16. 16. IFRI in the context of Sentinel Landscapes• The outputs of a sentinel landscape can include: – descriptions of a state or process; – basic data collection (for surveillance); – understanding of a phenomenon, including causality; and – experimentation, especially to provide recommendations, suggest interventions and assess their efficiency (e.g., adaptive management).• Researchers at sentinel landscapes can: – provide information or data to stakeholders for its further use; – analyze the information recorded; – use the results of the observation and/or analysis for dissemination or for further intervention; and – assist decision making by providing indicators and predictive modeling tools.
  17. 17. Lessons from IFRI• Go slow: Years of up-front efforts are necessary.• Governance – Network leadership and collaborator commitment – Streamlined, decentralized structure – Local engagement and feedback necessary for long-term collaboration – Start small and grow within means around a core method• Data – Comparability – Balance needed between breadth and depth of data collected. Most frequent collaborator comment about IFRI: “Too much data collected. But can you add…..?”• Research has been question-driven – Locally relevant and globally informative / comparable