Community Forestry

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Community forestry is an approach to forest management that empowers local communities to participate in decision-making and benefit from the sustainable use and conservation of forest resources. This approach recognizes the important role that local communities play in forest stewardship and aims to promote social equity, economic development, and environmental sustainability.

Impact on climate action

Community Forestry under Sustainable Forestry empowers local communities to manage forests sustainably. By promoting biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and ecosystem resilience, this innovation mitigates deforestation, enhances livelihoods, and fosters climate resilience, contributing to carbon emission reduction and biodiversity conservation in the fight against climate change.


  • Community-Based Forest Management (CBFM): CBFM involves transferring forest management rights and responsibilities to local communities, empowering them to make decisions about forest use and conservation.
  • Participatory Governance: Community forestry emphasizes participatory governance structures, where local communities are involved in decision-making processes related to forest management.
  • Sustainable Livelihoods: Community forestry aims to create sustainable livelihoods for local communities through the responsible use of forest resources, such as non-timber forest products (NTFPs), ecotourism, and sustainable timber harvesting.
  • Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK): Community forestry often incorporates TEK, which is the knowledge and practices that local communities have developed over generations through their interactions with the environment.
  • Capacity Building and Training: Providing training and capacity building to local communities is essential for successful community forestry initiatives.

TRL : 7-8

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Digital Platforms for Community Forest Management: Digital platforms can facilitate communication, data sharing, and decision-making among community members involved in forest management.
  • Mobile Technologies for Forest Monitoring: Mobile apps and devices can be used by community members to collect data on forest health, illegal logging, and other forest activities, empowering them to monitor and protect their forests.
  • Blockchain for Forest Product Traceability: Blockchain technology can be used to track and trace forest products from the forest to the end consumer, ensuring transparency and accountability in the supply chain.
  • Community-Based Carbon Offset Projects: Community forestry initiatives can generate carbon credits through forest conservation and restoration projects, providing additional income streams for local communities.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Community Empowerment and Decision-making
  • Sustainable Livelihood Enhancement
  • Integration of Traditional Knowledge
  • Digital Collaboration Solutions
  • Mobile Monitoring and Reporting Tools
  • Blockchain for Transparent Supply Chains
  • Carbon Offset Revenue Generation
  • Market Access Facilitation
  • International Knowledge Exchange
  • Ecosystem Services Valuation
  • Youth Engagement Strategies
  • Conflict Resolution Mechanisms
  • Adaptive Management Practices
  • Forest Landscape Restoration
  • Nature-Based Tourism Development
  • Climate Resilience Building

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. Komaza:
    • Technology Enhancement: Komaza utilizes technology and data-driven approaches to enable smallholder farmers in Africa to sustainably grow and manage tree farms. They provide farmers with training, resources, and support throughout the tree planting and management process, leveraging mobile technology for data collection and analysis.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Komaza stands out for its focus on smallholder farmers and its holistic approach to community forestry. By providing farmers with the necessary tools, knowledge, and market access, Komaza empowers local communities to establish and maintain profitable and sustainable tree farms, contributing to both economic development and environmental conservation.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Komaza primarily serves smallholder farmers in rural areas of Africa, particularly in regions where deforestation and land degradation are prevalent. Their community forestry model targets communities seeking alternative livelihoods, income generation opportunities, and environmental restoration through tree planting and sustainable land management.
  2. Ecosia:
    • Technology Enhancement: Ecosia is a search engine that uses its advertising revenue to fund tree planting projects around the world. They leverage their online platform and partnerships with tree planting organizations to support reforestation efforts, focusing on regions affected by deforestation and environmental degradation.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Ecosia stands out for its innovative business model that harnesses the power of online search to drive positive environmental impact. By redirecting advertising profits towards tree planting initiatives, Ecosia enables users to contribute to reforestation efforts with every online search, making environmental action accessible to a global audience.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Ecosia serves internet users worldwide who are concerned about environmental issues and want to support reforestation efforts. Their platform appeals to individuals, businesses, and organizations seeking to offset their carbon footprint and contribute to global reforestation initiatives.
  3. Treedom:
    • Technology Enhancement: Treedom operates an online platform that allows individuals and businesses to plant trees remotely and follow their growth through geolocation and photo updates. They partner with local farmers and organizations to implement tree planting projects in various countries, providing transparency and accountability through their online platform.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Treedom stands out for its focus on connecting people directly with tree planting projects and fostering a sense of connection and engagement with reforestation efforts. Their platform enables users to support tree planting initiatives, offset carbon emissions, and contribute to sustainable development goals through a personalized and interactive experience.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Treedom targets individuals, businesses, and organizations looking for meaningful ways to support reforestation and environmental conservation. Their platform appeals to eco-conscious consumers, companies with corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, and individuals seeking to make a positive impact on the environment.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies:
    • Research Focus: Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies conducts pioneering research on Community Forestry, focusing on collaborative and participatory approaches to forest management, conservation, and livelihood development.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses community-based forest governance models, stakeholder engagement strategies, and social-ecological resilience frameworks for promoting sustainable forest management and equitable resource distribution. They also explore the integration of traditional ecological knowledge, indigenous rights, and social justice principles into forest policy and practice.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in rural development, biodiversity conservation, and climate change mitigation. By empowering local communities to manage and benefit from forest resources sustainably, Yale’s research contributes to poverty alleviation, environmental stewardship, and cultural preservation in forest-dependent regions worldwide.
  2. University of British Columbia (UBC):
    • Research Focus: University of British Columbia is engaged in innovative research on Community Forestry, leveraging its expertise in forestry science, ecosystem management, and natural resource economics to address complex socio-environmental challenges in forested landscapes.
    • Uniqueness: Their research spans participatory mapping, community-based monitoring, and multi-stakeholder collaboration models for enhancing community engagement, capacity building, and decision-making in forest management. They also explore the socio-economic impacts of community forestry initiatives on livelihoods, well-being, and governance outcomes.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in sustainable land use planning, forest certification, and ecotourism development. By promoting community ownership and stewardship of forest resources, UBC’s research fosters social inclusion, ecological resilience, and economic diversification in rural and indigenous communities.
  3. Wageningen University & Research:
    • Research Focus: Wageningen University & Research conducts cutting-edge research on Community Forestry, drawing on its expertise in forestry policy, landscape governance, and rural development to address pressing environmental and societal challenges in forested regions.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses participatory forest management approaches, agroforestry systems, and payment for ecosystem services schemes for enhancing community resilience, biodiversity conservation, and climate change adaptation. They also explore the role of social networks, institutional dynamics, and power relations in shaping forest governance outcomes.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in sustainable forest management, food security, and poverty reduction. By fostering community empowerment and collective action, Wageningen’s research contributes to the sustainable management of forest ecosystems, the promotion of rural livelihoods, and the conservation of cultural heritage.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Community forestry is being implemented in various countries around the world, with successful examples in Nepal, Mexico, and Tanzania. These initiatives have demonstrated the potential of community forestry to promote sustainable forest management, improve livelihoods, and conserve biodiversity.