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Gender at the forefront of National Forest Monitoring Systems

Blog | Thu, 05 Mar, 2020 · 10 min read
Gender at the forefront of National Forest Monitoring Systems

Women and men frequently have differing roles, responsibilities and priorities in their use, knowledge and experience of forests. This knowledge can offer critical inputs to policy and field interventions that will enable the long-term success of REDD+ and other actions against deforestation on the ground. However, social, economic, and cultural inequalities and legal impediments often lead to the exclusion of women from equitably and meaningfully participating in these activities. In particular, in the area of national forest monitoring, women may often be excluded or relegated to minor roles, despite the fact that NFMS systems will be stronger and more relevant with their input, also given that women are also greatly impacted by forest loss and climate change. For example, by fully engaging women in activities such as forest inventories and socio-economic studies, national forest monitoring systems wil be more accurate and comprehensive in reflecting the breadth of forest biodiversity and the use of forest products and contribution to local livelihoods. Capturing women’s differentiated knowledge and experience of forests allows for their unique priorities to be reflected in forest-related planning and decision making.

It is therefore crucial that gender is mainstreamed to ensure that the knowledge and concerns of women and men are reflected appropriately in all forestry interventions. It is precisely for this reason that the UN-REDD Programme calls for meaningful and equitable capturing of the views, experiences and priorities of both men and women in all REDD+ forestry interventions, including national forest monitoring.

Gender provisions have also been articulated in the decisions of several climate change conferences. During the recent 25th Conference of the Parties (COP 25) Climate Change Conference, a new 5-year Gender Action Plan (GAP) was adopted, building on the first GAP, which highlights the need for increased implementation and scaling up of gender-just climate solutions. The adoption of the GAP is very timely, considering that over 40% of country (Intended) National Determined Contributions mention gender-related issues (FAO, 2016).

Gender at the forefront of National Forest Monitoring Systems

For countries that recognise the role of forests in helping to reach their NDC goals, forest monitoring becomes an essential element. Information on forest areas and area changes is not only the basis for data input into national greenhouse gas inventories, Forest Reference (Emission) Level (FREL/FRL) construction, and REDD+ results and NDC reporting, but can also support domestic efforts to improve forest management and forest conservation.

Gender at the forefront of National Forest Monitoring Systems

In 2017, the Voluntary Guidelines on National Forest Monitoring were published, outlining the principles, elements and best practices for the establishment and implementation of a sustainable multipurpose National Forest Monitoring System (NFMS). The Voluntary Guidelines emphasize the important role of gender mainstreaming in forest monitoring, providing a useful list of potential entry points for gender action, such as engagement with the national ministries responsible for gender, civil society and women’s organizations; collection of sex-disaggregated data on forest use; and emphasis on the need for gender balance in recruitment for technical and management positions.

(Source: FAO, 2017)
Source: FAO, 2017


A fully functioning NFMS, which integrates a gender approach, will enable countries to respond to their own multi-purpose national data needs on forests, while also ensuring it captures the perspectives and knowledge of women and men who depend on such forests for their livelihoods. It will also help countries to respond to the new transparency requirements under the Paris Agreement (see related article, here). In this light, the Capacity-building Initiative for Transparency (CBIT) was established under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) aiming to enhance countries’ capacities to implement the Enhanced Transparency Framework. FAO recently launched a new global project “Building global capacity to increase transparency in the forest sector (CBIT-Forest)” to strengthen capacities on forest-related data collection, analysis and dissemination to meet these requirements. Gender equality is one of the core principles for the project. During the project preparation phase, both male and female perspectives informed the design of the project.

Learning from gender-inclusive forestry actions supported by various initiatives, including the UN-REDD Programme, the CBIT-Forest team will continue ensuring that efforts are gender responsive throughout project implementation and work planning. Key gender indicators, defined in the project plan, such as the number of male and female beneficiaries of capacity building activities, along with the consistent use of a checklist for gender-responsive workshops will ensure that gender remains at the forefront of the project’s regional and national capacity development activities. The importance of gender will be further reflected in a case study on successful transparency-related activities focused on gender, and the integration of key messages on gender in the outreach and training materials (e.g. e-learning course).

Related article:

Moving towards the transparency framework under the Paris Agreement

How a Robust National Forest Monitoring System Can Boost Transparency under the Paris Agreement

For UN-REDD gender and REDD+ case studies from the Asia-Pacific (AP) region developed by UNDP, go to

Useful links:

UN-REDD Checklist for Gender-Responsive REDD+ Workshops” available in English, French and Spanish

FAO’s work on climate change 2019

FAO’s infographic booklet on MRV work (also in Spanish, French)

Mapping Katowice decisions related to NDCs (also in Spanish)

FAO’s technical paper on REDD+ 2017, with update 2018, update 2019

FAO’s Voluntary Guidelines on National Forest Monitoring 2017 (also in Spanish, French)

FAO’s National Forest Monitoring Systems for REDD+ (also in Spanish)

How to mainstream gender in forestry. A practical field guide

Tackling Climate Change through rural women’s empowerment

CBIT-Forest web page: