GOAL 10: Strengthen forest governance, transparency, and the rule of law, while also empowering communities and recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples, especially those pertaining to their lands and resources
- Improvements in forest governance remain too slow to adequately support efforts to reduce deforestation. Forest governance is weakest in poorer countries, where institutions and the rule of law tend to be weak overall.
- Many countries have strong laws on paper, particularly regarding access to information and justice, but these are often inadequately implemented. Most countries have laws requiring governments to provide access to information and opportunities to participate in forest-related decision-making, but these laws often contain significant restrictions that limit these rights in practice. Overall, the forest sector remains relatively opaque in many countries.
- Illegality drives deforestation. Especially where commercial agriculture is causing significant forest loss, the risk that forest-related laws are violated in the production of commodities remains alarmingly high.
- Several Asian countries have started to adopt measures to restrict market access for illegally harvested timber and agricultural commodities, complementing existing frameworks in the European Union, the United States, and Australia. The design of the new measures has, however, raised some concerns about how well they will be enforced.
- Progress in recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples and other local communities to their lands and resources remains slow, and a significant share of community lands remains unrecognized. Even where communities do possess recognized land rights, these rights are often not secure in practice. Developed countries with high forest cover and large populations of indigenous peoples tend to provide less protection for the land and resource rights of those peoples than developing countries.
- Weak recognition of rights, limited consultation of communities, and growing demand for land have led to an increase in land conflicts and growing dangers for communities defending their land rights, with the number of murders of community activists increasing every year since 2014.
- Local organizations are leading innovations for community empowerment, such as installing financial vigilance mechanisms and focusing on women’s entrepreneurial training. While there is great potential for replication of these strategies and forest-linked development finance is getting through to some of them, much more needs to be done to bring them to scale.
OVERVIEW OF GOAL AND INDICATORS
Goal 10 of the NYDF recognizes the link between improvements in governance and addressing deforestation and commits endorsers to support advances in transparency, the rule of law, and the empowerment of communities and indigenous peoples in relation to the land and resource rights.
Good governance is essential to address deforestation
While governments have historically been among the main agents of deforestation, they are also responsible for the adoption of laws and policies that are essential to the protection and sustainable management of forests. The implications of good or bad governance are highly context specific. However, adopting and implementing strong environmental policies, clarifying ownership rights, and strengthening the rule of law has proven to remove pressure on forests and help protect forest ecosystems.
In this assessment, we focus on progress in strengthening forest governance which we understand to cover:
- The institutions, laws, policies, and processes that govern the ownership, management, use, protection, and conversion of forests
- How these institutions, laws, policies, and processes operate in practice, including their degree of transparency
- The strength of the rule of law in forest-related matters, including the implementation and enforcement of the law and access to justice for those wronged by forest-related decisions
- The governance of international trade in forest products and nonforest products linked to deforestation and forest degradation
- The rights and empowerment of indigenous peoples and local communities
Previous assessments of Goal 10 relied on a framework which covered some key aspects of forest governance, based on data available at the time. This year, for the in-depth report on Goal 10, the assessment framework was revised and expanded in consultation with an expert working group. The new framework more comprehensively evaluates all aspects of Goal 10 while incorporating newly available data. In total, the eight indicators in the assessment cover forest laws and policies, the rule of law, demand-side measures, transparency, participation and access to justice, and empowering and ensuring the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. The criteria and indicators are the assessment are listed below (Table 1).
Table 1. Assessment Framework for NYDF Goal 10
|1. Governance, the rule of law and forest-related crime||1.1. Legal and policy frameworks governing forests
1.2. Illegality in and around forests
1.3. Demand-side measures and international cooperation
|2. Transparency, participation, and access to justice||2.1. Transparency and access to information
2.2. Participation in decision-making
2.3. Access to justice
|3. Empowering and ensuring the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities||3.1. Rights of indigenous peoples and local communities
3.2. Empowerment of communities
Indicator 1.1: Legal and policy frameworks governing forests and deforestation
Countries with weak forest laws and policies, insufficient enforcement, and high levels of corruption experience higher rates of deforestation than countries with stronger legal frameworks and institutions. While several countries have made notable improvements in efforts to reduce illegal activities, progress remains slow and, in some countries, has stalled completely.
An assessment of nine countries that are home to almost half of tropical forests, conducted by Climate Focus and Chatham House, shows that almost all countries made progress in strengthening their laws and policies tackling illegal logging and deforestation over the past five years (Figure 1). However, most countries have major inconsistencies within forest legislation or with legislation governing the sectors (e.g., agriculture) that drive deforestation. Some countries also lack the political will to implement these laws.
Figure 1. Average forest governance policy scores (of nine indicators) for nine tropical countries
Note: Scores are on a scale of 0 to 100 percent, from worst to best performance. This research builds on two previous assessments carried out by Chatham House under the project Illegal logging and related trade: Indicators of the global response.
Source: Climate Focus and Chatham House. (2018). Assessments of government forest policy in nine countries.
Several of the nine countries assessed have fairly strong checks and balances to ensure the rule of law is respected, including limiting the powers of senior government officials to override laws, providing for performance audits, ensuring parliamentary and judicial oversight of government decisions, enabling the public to mount legal challenges against government decisions, and imposing penalties for bribery.  Notable improvements to the rule of law in recent years include the adoption of laws in Ghana and Indonesia to strengthen public control and transparency and hold government officials and forest officers accountable for their involvement in the trade of illegal timber.
In many countries, nonetheless, progress in strengthening institutions and enforcing laws remains slow and limited. Enforcement is particularly challenging in developing countries, many of which have relatively strong legal frameworks (sometimes stronger than those of developed countries), but often struggle to fully implement their laws, regulations, and commitments, including moratoria on forest use or conversion.
Only limited progress has been made in controlling corruption. Corruption undermines all efforts to strengthen the rule of law. A comparison of corruption scores from Transparency International with changes in primary forest cover in 180 countries from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reveals that countries with high perceived levels of corruption experience more forest loss.
Indicator 1.2: Illegality in and around forests
In countries with high rates of commodity-driven deforestation, violations of agricultural production laws remain alarmingly high. In 75 percent of major timber-producing countries – and all of the largest palm oil, soy, and beef producing countries in tropical regions —there are significant risks of one, or usually multiple, laws being broken in producing these commodities.
Almost half of all tropical deforestation in recent decades was due to the illegal conversion of forests for commercial agriculture, in particular for the “big four” commodities: palm oil, soy, paper/timber, and cattle/beef. Two thirds of illegal deforestation took place in Brazil and Indonesia, the two largest producers of forest-risk commodities and the countries with highest forest loss.
Legality risks vary by commodity (Figure 2). In the timber sector, the most frequent legality risks related to logging include bribery, violating forest management requirements, and improperly acquiring permits for timber trading and transport. In the palm oil, soy, and cattle sectors, common causes for illegality are clearing forest for plantations or pastures and noncompliance with laws protecting high-conservation value areas.
Figure 2. Legality risks in forest and agricultural commodity supply chains (2017)
Note: NEPCon conducts country-level legality risk assessments for forest and agricultural commodity supply chains.
Source: Climate Focus analysis based on 2017 data from Nature Economy and People Connected (NEPCon)’s Sourcing Hub.
For the most part, legality risks are significantly higher in tropical countries. Nonetheless, illegal logging remains a problem in several other countries such as Russia, Romania, and Poland. In the Italian timber sector there is significant risk of timber harvesting regulations and other environmental requirements being violated. In other developed countries, such as Canada, most logging is legal but is often unsustainable, threatening carbon sinks and indigenous peoples’ rights.
Indicator 1.3: Demand-side measures and international cooperation
Several major consumer countries have adopted regulations on timber legality that place obligations on timber importers to avoid deforestation. In 2008 the U.S. Lacey Act was amended to prohibit the import and trade of illegal wood products, prompting a series of new measures around the globe in consumer countries. Most notably, the European Union adopted the EU Timber Regulation, following its Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan, and the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act in Australia. Despite some challenges, these measures have had notable successes in combatting the trade in illegal timber.
Emerging economies in Asia, including China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, and Vietnam have also begun to adopt demand-side regulations that prohibit the sale and import of illegally harvested timber. While promising, these laws suffer from potential compliance loopholes and weak enforcement mechanisms.
Over the past few years, governments and private actors have also started taking action to eliminate deforestation embedded in palm oil and soy. However, in contrast with demand-side measures in the timber sector, the majority of these measures remain voluntary or limited in scope. The European Union restricts biofuels originating from recently deforested areas. In France, a 2017 law requires large companies to identify and prevent environmental risks associated with their own activities and activities along their supply chains. The Amsterdam Declarations of December 2015 commit signatories to coordinated demand-side efforts to eliminate deforestation from the palm oil supply chain and other agricultural supply chains, reiterating the goals of the NYDF. Chinese importers of palm oil and soy are also taking steps toward sustainable sourcing.
Enforcement agencies have recently made important strides in international cooperation to tackle the trade in illegal timber. While still relatively new, one such project, INTERPOL’s Project Law Enforcement Assistance for Forests, has led to the seizure of USD 1.5 billion worth of illegal timber through international cooperation efforts since 2012 (see Box 1 of the Goal 8 Assessment).
Criterion 2: Transparency, participation and access to justice
Indicator 2.1. Transparency and access to information
An increasing number of countries are adopting laws that give citizens the right to access information, including forest-related information. However, the forest sector remains relatively opaque. Few countries release data proactively, and systems that make information available to the broader public remain the exception. In many countries, information may not be available in formats or languages that are widely accessible, in particular to vulnerable groups, and governments are allowed broad latitude to refuse access. For example, China allows information requests to be refused on ground of “national interests.” In addition, access to information in most countries is costly, which further limits access in practice.
Lack of transparency in agricultural commodity supply chains is a barrier to monitoring corporate commitments to address deforestation. The majority of the companies with the greatest exposure to forest-risk commodities that have committed to eliminating deforestation from their supply chains do not report their progress on implementing their commitments. Many companies remain reluctant to share data, and the information they provide is often vague, incomplete, or buried in sustainability reports, which limit its usability for assessing progress and forest impacts (see Goal 2). A small number of large companies, especially in the palm oil sector, has made great progress in disclosing supply-chain information.
Indicator 2.2. Participation in decision-making
The majority of countries assessed through data from the Environmental Democracy Index provide for consultations on forest-related policies and projects. In more than half of 70 countries assessed, governments are required to solicit input for planning decisions, while just under half provide for participation in policy-making. Fewer than half of the evaluated countries require governments to take comments from the public into account when making decisions on forests. Furthermore, consultation processes are often overly technical or focused on discussion rather than decision-making. In Mexico, for example, the government is required to provide opportunities for consultation, but has no obligation to proactively consult affected stakeholders.
The participation of women in forest-related decision-making remains limited in many countries. Women are rarely represented in land-related institutions, and few countries are working to improve female representation. Of 25 countries assessed using data from FAO’s Legal Assessment tool, only 8 have or are developing laws to ensure the engagement of women.
Indicator 2.3. Access to justice
Most countries have laws guaranteeing the right to access judicial and administrative remedies but in practice these are too costly and slow to provide effective legal protection. Grievance mechanisms may provide an alternative avenue for local people to seek redress. Yet, even these informal processes are often out of reach for the most vulnerable in society.
Remedies are also often limited: fewer than 20 percent of the 70 countries assessed make full restitution available for forest-related matters. This limits the ability of courts and administrative bodies to require that companies or government bodies restore land that has been deforested or degraded. Women and the poor also have less access to justice in forest-related matters. Of 25 countries assessed, only Ecuador and Rwanda have legislation requiring female representation on land dispute resolution committees, while Mali includes such a requirement in its national gender policy.
Criterion 3: Empowering and ensuring the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities
Many indigenous peoples and other local communities (IPLCs) depend on ecosystems and, in particular, on native forests for their livelihoods, using plants, animals, and their products for food, clothing, fuel, medicine, and shelter. The economy, social organization, identity, and cultural and spiritual values of these communities are closely linked to forests. Many also have long-standing claims to the lands and forests they have customarily owned, used, and occupied.
In managing forest land, IPLCs provide an important ecological service and help mitigate climate change. They manage at least 17 percent (293 billion metric tons) of the total carbon stored in the forestlands of 64 assessed countries, equal to 33 times the global energy emissions of 2017.
Indicator 3.1. Rights of indigenous peoples and local communities
Where IPLCs hold secure rights to their land, it is less likely to be deforested. Studies in South America, where local communities hold rights to large areas of land, found that deforestation rates are two to three times lower on lands where IPLCs have secure tenure rights than on land with similar characteristics but without IPLC tenure, including in protected forest areas.
Progress in recognizing the rights of IPLCs has been mixed. On the one hand, an assessment of 41 countries by the Rights and Resources Initiative found that the amount of forest land where IPLCs have legally recognized rights increased from 11 percent in 2002 to 15 percent in 2017 – by an area about the size of Peru. Positively, most of this increase has been in the recognition of IPLC ownership of forests, meaning that communities are recognized as holding a broad set of rights to access, use, manage, and exclude others from forests for an unlimited duration of time.
On the other hand, data from the LandMark Initiative indicates that a large portion of IPLC territories remains unrecognized. Data on land rights in 14 countries with significant forest cover indicate that 33–39 percent of land currently occupied or used by IPLCs has not been recognized by governments (Figure 4). IPLCs currently hold 54–59 percent of national land area in these 14 countries combined, indicating that the area under customary IPLC ownership, use, or occupation is significant.
Figure 3. Assessment of land rights in 14 countries (2018)
Source: Climate Focus analysis based on Dubertret, F., & Veit, P.G. (2018). Held, recognized, documented, and claimed indigenous and community land in 14 countries. Research prepared for the New York Declaration on Forests Assessment. IPLC = indigenous peoples and local communities.
In many countries, IPLC rights are often limited in one or several ways and are frequently less secure than other forms of tenure. Even if rights are relatively strong on paper, they are often not fully secure in practice. Rights are often not proactively enforced and fail to protect communities from land grabbing and violence by third parties. Tenure regimes that provide communities with strong overall tenure security tend to also have stronger provisions protecting women’s rights within the tenure regime.
Regimes providing formal rights to IPLCs often fail to uphold those rights in national parks and other protected areas. Indeed, 50–80 percent of protected areas globally are estimated to overlap with IPLC rights.  Since 1990, nearly 250,000 individuals in 15 countries are reported to have been forcibly evicted from their lands following their designation as protected areas. This has led to loss of livelihoods, conflicts and even killings linked to the “militarization of conservation.”
Increasing demand for land for agriculture, mining, and other development has seen governments allocate more and more land to commercial concessions. These concessions are often in direct competition with community lands. Where customary rights and the principle of free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) are not fully recognized and upheld, concessions can pose a high risk of displacing or coming into conflict with local communities. Rising land values have also led to transactions that are often to the detriment of forest-linked communities.
When companies acquire land that communities own or use under customary law, communities often lose access to food, water, and other resources crucial to their livelihoods. For many communities with limited or no access to legal remedies, the only recourse is to oppose developments through campaigns and physical protests. In many countries, this carries major risks (Figure 5).
Figure 4. The consequences of insecure tenure and limited recognition of free, prior, and informed consent
Note: FPIC = free, prior, and informed consent, IPLC = indigenous peoples and local communities.
Source: Climate Focus
Communities defending their rights increasingly face violence, criminalization, and murder. According to data from Global Witness, killings of land and forest defenders have been increasing in recent years. The years 2015, 2016, and 2017 saw the highest number of killings since recordkeeping began. IPLCs are also subject to a range of other violent attacks. Available information indicates that the armed forces, criminal gangs, paramilitaries, and police are the most common perpetrators of these crimes. The majority of attacks currently go unpunished.
Indicator 3.2 Empowerment of IPLCs and other rural communities
Many indigenous peoples and local communities are vulnerable and need to gain or regain authority, including commercial power, over forest goods and services, to overcome marginalization. Supporting the agency of communities by strengthening their organizational structures is an important strategy for securing empowerment. Organization in associations or cooperatives strengthens communities through knowledge sharing, increasing negotiating power in market and political spaces, reducing transaction costs, and defending against unjust or illegal actions.
While aggregate data on the empowerment of IPLCs are unavailable, data in the context of rural communities suggest minimal improvements in providing policies conducive for rural organizations to engage in dialogue and access land. Rural Sector Performance Assessments conducted in 101 countries by the International Fund for Agricultural Development show only a very slight upward trend in governments involving community organizations in decision-making.
Where communities have been able to form locally-controlled forestry businesses, this community ownership has led to a number of important innovations and helped to foster local empowerment. A review of 50 case studies of such businesses by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) found a number of benefits. For example, democratic oversight bodies support sustained environmental and cultural heritage. Case studies from Mexico and Peru showed that community forestry business tended to avoid unequal power structures by providing a balanced governing structure and maintaining cultural values.
Effective international development finance can support empowerment, but too little finance reaches communities. There have been important advances in making forest-linked development finance directly accessible to communities, though this remains the exception rather than the rule. In 2018, a group of U.S.- based charitable foundations announced USD 459 million to support forest protection, primarily through securing indigenous peoples’ land rights. In addition, several multilateral sources such as the Dedicated Grant Mechanism for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities and the International Land and Forest Tenure Facility, have set up dedicated mechanisms to support the participation and capacity building of indigenous peoples and communities in REDD+ processes  and secure land and forest rights for IPLCs.
 Williams, M. (2003). Deforesting the Earth: From prehistory to global crisis. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
 Wehkamp J., Koch, N., Lübbers, S., & Fuss, S. (2018). Governance and deforestation – A meta-analysis in economics. Ecological Economics, 144, 214–227.
 This includes, but is not limited to transparency, and the rule of law, empowering indigenous peoples and communities, and recognizing their rights for lands and resources. There is no commonly accepted definition of the term “forest governance,” but attempts to measure it invariably incorporate assessments of transparency, the rule of law, certainty of land tenure, and the control of corruption, among others. See e.g., Davis, C. Williams, L., Lupberger, S., & Daviet, F. (2013). Assessing forest governance: The Governance of Forests Initiative Indicator Framework. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute; Kishor, N. & Rosenbaum, K. (2012). Assessing and monitoring forest governance: A user’s guide to a diagnostic tool. Washington, DC: Program on Forests.
 Climate Focus analysis based on average scores from Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. Note that these scores are not limited to the forest sector.
 Kanowski, P.J., McDermott, C.L., & Cashore, B.W. (2011). Implementing REDD+: Lessons from analysis of forest governance. Environmental Science and Policy, 14(2), 111–117.
 Lawson, S. (2014). Consumer goods and deforestation: An analysis of the extent and nature of illegality in forest conversion for agriculture and timber plantations (Forest Trade and Finance Series). Washington, DC: Forest Trends.
 The majority of soy production in the Amazon region falls within the scope of the Soy Moratorium, which has been relatively effective in reducing deforestation linked to soy production in that region.
 Kleinschmit, D., Mansourian, S., Wildburger, C., & Purret, A. (Eds.) (2016). Illegal logging and related timber trade – Dimensions, drivers, impacts and responses: A global scientific rapid response assessment report. (IUFRO World Series Vol. 35). Vienna, Austria: International Union of Forest Research Organizations; Nearly a quarter of logging from 1990 to 2011 was illegal; Schlingemann, L., de Bortoli, I., Favilli, F., Egerer, H., Musco, E., Lucas,. et al. (2017). Combating wildlife and forest crime in the Danube–Carpathian region. Vienna, Austria: UN Environment; Bolzano, Italy: Eurac Research; Vienna, Austria: World Wildlife Fund for Nature; Nelsen, A. (2018, April 17). Poland violated EU laws by logging in Bialowieza forest, court rules. The Guardian.
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 Zadek, S., Forstater, M., Cheng, H., Potts, J., & Huppé, G.A. (2014). Meeting China’s global resource needs: Managing sustainability impacts to ensure security of supply. Winnipeg, Canada: The International Institute for Sustainable Development; Chinese delegation to Indonesia signals growing demand for certified sustainable palm oil. (2016, December 2). Solidaridad News; ABIOVE. Brazilian Vegetable Oil Industries Association (ABIOVE). (2016, April 8). ABIOVE and APROSOJA/MT sign a partnership agreement with China Soybean Industry Association. Digital Newsletter on Soy Production Chain, No. 145.
 Including 12 developed countries, 3 economies in transition and 55 developing countries. Based on classifications in United Nations. (2018). World Economic Situation and Prospects 2018.
 Rogerson, S. (2017). Achieving 2020: How can the private sector meet global goals of eliminating commodity-driven deforestation? (Forest 500 Annual Report 2017). Oxford, UK: Global Canopy.
 Chain Reaction Research. (2018, April 19). Unilever and Nestlé publish detailed supplier list. The Chain.
 Climate Focus analysis based on data from the Environmental Democracy Index
 World Bank. (2015). Joint FCPF/UN-REDD guidance note for REDD+ countries: Establishing and strengthening grievance redress mechanisms. Washington, DC: World Bank Group.
 Whether communities should be identified as indigenous or in another way is recognized as a matter for self-determination, and the international community has rejected attempts to adopt an internationally recognized definition of indigenous people. Nonetheless, national laws may provide definitions for the purpose of defining the scope of legislation recognizing indigenous peoples’ and other specific groups’ rights to land. Local communities include forest-dependent communities that are not recognized as indigenous peoples in national legislation but who manage land collectively often based on customary practices or other community-defined norms.
 Based on 64 countries accounting for 69 percent of the world’s forest cover. Frechette, A., Ginsburg, C., & Walker, W. (2018). A global baseline of carbon storage in collective lands: Indigenous and local community contributions to climate change mitigation. Washington, DC: Rights and Resources Initiative.
 Ding, H., Veit, P.G., Blackman, A., Gray, E., Reytar, K., Altamirano, J.C. et al. (2016) Climate benefits, tenure costs: The economic case for securing indigenous land rights in the Amazon. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute.
 Ginsburg, C. & Keene, S. (2018). At a crossroads: Consequential trends in recognition of community-based forest tenure from 2002–2017. .Washington, DC: Rights and Resources Initiative.
 Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania (minus Zanzibar), Kenya, Zambia, Panama, Peru, Brazil, Paraguay, Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, and Canada.
 We define “recognized lands” as IPLC lands that are recognized under national law, and for federal states (e.g., Canada and Australia), federal and state law. National laws include the constitution, statutes, regulations, and technical directives (also court rulings but only where they have been implemented by the government). National laws do not include political statements, public policy, administrative guidelines or other documents that are not legally binding.
 Held land is understood as land that is currently occupied and/or used by indigenous peoples or other local communities, often under customary tenure systems.
 Wily, L.A. (2018). Collective land ownership in the 21st century: Overview of global trends. Land, 7(2), 68.
 Botswana, Cameroon, Eritrea, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, and South Sudan.
 Keene, S., & Ginsburg, C. (2017). Power and potential: A comparative analysis of national laws and regulations concerning women’s rights to community forests. Washington, DC: Rights and Resources Initiative.
 Tauli-Corpuz, V., Alcorn, J., & Molnar. (2018). Cornered by protected areas: Replacing ‘fortress’ conservation with rights-based approaches helps bring justice for indigenous peoples and local communities, reduces conflict, and enables cost-effective conservation and climate action. Washington, DC: Rights and Resources Initiative.
 A principle that requires governments and/or companies whose planned actions may impact indigenous peoples to seek their free (i.e., voluntary and in the absence of coercion), prior (i.e., consent sought in advance of project approval), and informed (i.e., after being presented with a comprehensive list of impacts and risks) consent.
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 Climate Focus analysis based on the International Fund for Agricultural Development’s Rural Sector Performance Assessments.
 Macqueen, D., Bolin, A., Greijmans, M., Grouwels, S. & Humphries, S. (2018) Innovations towards prosperity emerging in locally controlled forest business models and prospects for scaling up. World Development. (in press).
 Malo, S. (2018, September 11). Philanthropies pledge $450 million to save forests, climate. Reuters.
 Climate Focus. (2017). Progress on the New York Declaration on Forests: Finance for forests – Goals 8 and 9 assessment report. Prepared by Climate Focus in cooperation with the New York Declaration on Forest Assessment Partners with support from the Climate and Land Use Alliance.