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Pathways to win-wins or trade-offs? How certified community forests impact forest restoration and human wellbeing

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Marion PfeiferORCiD, Professor Stephen Rushton



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Certified community forests combine local governance with forest certification and aim to serve multiple objectives including forest protection, restoration, human wellbeing and equitable governance. However, the causal pathways by which they impact these objectives remain poorly understood. The ability of protected area impact evaluations to identify complex pathways is limited by a narrow focus on top-down theoretical, quantitative perspectives and inadequate consideration of local context. We used a novel mixed-methods research design that integrates the perspectives of multiple actors to develop a generalized conceptual model of the causal pathways for certified community forests. We tested the model using a combination of statistical matching, structural equation modelling and qualitative analyses for an agroforestry landscape in Tanzania. We found certified community forests positively impacted human wellbeing, equitable governance and forest restoration. Equitable governance had the largest impact on wellbeing, followed by crop yield and forest resource availability. Timber revenues varied widely between villages and the average effect of financial benefits did not impact wellbeing due to the immature stage of the certified timber market. We identified positive interactions and trade-offs between conservation and agriculture. Our findings suggest that no simple solution exists for meeting multiple objectives. However, developing understanding of the pathways linking social and conservation outcomes can help identify opportunities to promote synergies and mitigate negative impacts to reconcile competing objectives. This article is part of the theme issue 'Understanding forest landscape restoration: reinforcing scientific foundations for the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration'.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Loveridge R, Marshall AR, Pfeifer M, Rushton S, Nnyiti PP, Fredy L, Sallu SM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences

Year: 2023

Volume: 378

Issue: 1867

Print publication date: 02/01/2023

Online publication date: 14/11/2022

Acceptance date: 16/11/2021

Date deposited: 28/11/2022

ISSN (print): 0962-8436

ISSN (electronic): 1471-2970

Publisher: Royal Society Publishing

DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2021.0080

PubMed id: 36373927


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Funder referenceFunder name
BB/S014586/1Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
FT170100279Australian Research Council