Archived project

Socio-economic impacts of large-scale tree plantations on local communities

Goal: A timely systematic review that aims to synthesize the evidence on the socioeconomic impacts of large-scale tree plantations on local communities in the era of increasing efforts to design and manage plantations sustainably. We also aim to map all relevant evidence and assess bias and gaps in it. This is a joint project between the Department of Forest Sciences at the University of Helsinki and the Center for International Forestry Research.

Methods: Machine Learning, Systematic Review

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Nicholas J. Hogarth
added a research item
Since their widespread introduction in the 1980s, large-scale tree plantations have seen contestations over their socioeconomic impacts. With the establishment of new plantations on the rise, a review of the literature examining their impacts on local communities is needed to inform policies and practices. In this systematic review, we followed an a priori protocol to reduce the selection biases inherent to conventional literature reviews, and considered both grey and peer-reviewed literature. Of the 20,450 studies identified in our literature search, only 92 studies met our predefined inclusion criteria. However, only 22 studies presented a clear comparator and considered confounding factors in their analysis. Of the 251 impacts identified in this sample, most impacts across the nine categories were characterised as predominantly negative impacts attributed to large-scale tree plantations. Impacts on employment (22% of reported impacts/of which 41% predominantly negative), land (21%/81%), livelihoods (12%/48%) and the often intertwined social impacts (20%/69%) were the most commonly considered categories, within which a majority of studies agreed on the impact dynamics when in similar contexts, resembling the dynamics observed in other large-scale land-based investments. Most impacts were reported from Southeast Asia (34% of reported impacts), South America (29%), Africa (23%) and Australasia (12%). We corroborate that costs of large-scale tree plantations for residents tend to be front-loaded, especially when plantations have displaced customary land uses, and possible benefits to accrue over time, moderated by the emergence of local processing and complementary livelihood activities. However, given the methodological inconsistencies in our sample and the under-representation of areas known to have undergone plantation development , strong global evidence on the long-term socioeconomic impacts of large-scale tree plantations remains limited.
Arttu Malkamäki
added an update
A sneak preview to our findings; a poster presented at FLARE (Forests & Livelihoods: Assessment, Research, Engagement) Annual Meeting 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden.
 
Dalia D'Amato
added a research item
View-only access here http://rdcu.be/vmYQ. After decades of intense academic andpolicy debate, a shared understanding of the term ‘plantation’is still missing. More consistent terminology and plantationtypologies are needed to enable comparability between plan-tation types and related ecological and socio-economicoutcomes. Previous research has provided some suggestions for a plantation typology, but a more systematic approach to typology formulation is still needed. Furthermore, previously proposed typologies almost exclusively deal withplantation forestry, ignoring the links with other plantationtypes. The aim of this review is to identify a comprehensive set of variables that can describe the range of different plantation types, specifically (but not exclusively) in the con-text of forestry. The typology was developed based on a par-ticipatory and iterative analytical process involving severalexpert stakeholders. The variables that contribute to construct-ing the typology are presented and explained in light of theirinfluence on ecological and socio-economic outcomes.Variables include the following: (1) characteristics of plantedorganism (tree/non-tree), (2) species composition (monocul-ture/mixed), (3) origin of planted species (native/exotic), (4) plantation purpose (economic, social and environmental), (5) plantation intended use (provisioning, regulating and culturalservices), (6) land ownership (public and private), (7) man-agement responsibility (public and private), (8) managementintensity (high-medium-low), (9) scale (large-medium-small)and composition (monoculture/mixed) in landscape, (10) orig-inal initiator of plantation establishment (external and internal) and (11) level of institutional arrangements (high-medium-low). The typology is then tested using three case studies. Acode system is presented that scholars and practitioners canuse to classify plantation types and provide the basis to aidfurther analyses.
Arttu Malkamäki
added an update
A new Working Paper from CIFOR describing our approach to the systematic review in detail. Also our final database is almost complete and analyses will soon follow!
 
Arttu Malkamäki
added an update
The project has moved to extract the data from 192 different publications dealing with the topic; these were screened from an original database of more than 19,000 individual abstracts, aggregated from both scientific and organizational sources. The latest update was made in mid-December 2016 with the aim of picking up all relevant literature made available online before 2017. Now the data from nearly half of these publications have been extracted and we expect to release some initial findings in the course of the next few months. Stay tuned.
 
Nicholas J. Hogarth
added an update
Nicholas J. Hogarth
added a project goal
A timely systematic review that aims to synthesize the evidence on the socioeconomic impacts of large-scale tree plantations on local communities in the era of increasing efforts to design and manage plantations sustainably. We also aim to map all relevant evidence and assess bias and gaps in it. This is a joint project between the Department of Forest Sciences at the University of Helsinki and the Center for International Forestry Research.