Frequently Asked Questions

What is Forest COMPASS?

Forest COMPASS was a project of Global Canopy, then known as the Global Canopy Programme, supported by Norad (the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation). Please note that it is no longer active, and so any material written in the present tense should be read as having passed. 

'COMPASS' stands for Community Powered Assessment of Ecosystem Services and Safeguards. The overall project had two broad aims. First, to ensure that national and international policy-makers recognise community-based forest monitoring as an integral source of information for accurate and cost-effective forest monitoring, including for the international agendas of the CBD, FLEGT and especially REDD+ activities and safeguards. Second, for tropical forest communities to understand the benefits and risks of forest monitoring and these international agendas, and have the knowledge and tools to take informed decisions and play a proactive, independent role.

The main components of the Forest COMPASS project are this website; various workshops, events and publications targeted at policy-makers and practitioners (such as NGOs and researchers developing community-based monitoring initiatives); and two practical forest monitoring initiatives with forest communities in Guyana and in the state of Acre, Brazil. These two initiatives piloted the use of digital technology for monitoring, and fed the lessons learned into the REDD+ strategies being developed by Guyana and Acre.

The Forest COMPASS project ran from 2013 to 2015.

What is the Forest COMPASS website?

The Forest COMPASS website brings together case studies, resources and analysis on community-based forest monitoring in tropical countries. This collaborative platform supports knowledge sharing and capacity building, by showcasing who is doing what in this space, and how they are doing it. It also reveals why community-collected data is essential for ensuring more efficient, effective and equitable forest initiatives, including international agendas such as the CBD, UNFCCC REDD+ and FLEGT. We aim to have materials of interest to a broad audience, with a particular focus on practioners and policy-makers.

Why does Forest COMPASS have a focus on digital technology and international agendas such as REDD+?

We aimed to cover many aspects of community-based forest monitoring, in a way that is relevant and useful to a broad audience. In line with our agreement with our funders (Norad), we take a closer look at digital technology and the links between community-based forest monitoring and the international agendas of REDD+, the CBD and FLEGT. We hope this is useful for you, though we also acknowledge that digital technology will not be right for many projects, and the rationale for community-based forest monitoring goes well beyond these international agendas.

What is community-based forest monitoring?

Monitoring is the “systematic measurement of variables and processes over time” (as defined by Spellerberg et al, 2005). Community-based forest monitoring is monitoring that involves the people who are living in and/or dependent on the forest (forest communities). It typically focuses on the forest's natural resources and the socio-economic issues relevant to forest communities. Community-based monitoring is also known as participatory monitoring.

Even among projects that refer to their work as community-based forest monitoring, there is a spectrum of engagement, ranging from community members collecting data on indicators selected by outsiders, to community-led monitoring, where the communities direct and design the monitoring initiative, and take action on their findings. The spectrum of engagement in natural resource monitoring is defined and explained by Danielsen et al, 2009. Forest COMPASS aims to showcase initiatives where communities have a high degree of control, though you will find projects with a range of engagement on our site.

What is a 'forest community'?

A forest community is one whose members live in and/or depend directly on the forest for their livelihoods.

Who are Global Canopy?

Global Canopy, formerly known as the Global Canopy Programme, is an innovative environmental organisation that targets the market forces destroying tropical forests. Since 2001, we have been testing new approaches to tackling deforestation, and guiding companies, investors and governments worldwide to think differently about our planet's forests.

What is REDD+?

REDD+ stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, 'plus' conservation, the sustainable management of forests, and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks. It is a land management approach, and the name of the proposed international incentive mechanism, established under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to achieve these aims. Please click here for more information about REDD+ and the relevance of community-based forest monitoring.

What is FLEGT?

The European Union’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan aims to prevent the import of illegal timber into the EU, tackle illegal logging and promote trade in legal and sustainably produced timber. Please click here for more information about FLEGT and the relevance of community-based forest monitoring.

What is the CBD?

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is an international agreement, established under the United Nations, which aims to reverse the decline in biodiversity, including habitat, species and genetic diversity, and to maintain the benefits biodiversity brings to people. Please click here for more information about the CBD and the relevance of community-based forest monitoring.