About ForestDefender

  1. What is ForestDefender?
  2. What kind of information can I find in this database?
  3. What information is included in the Accountability page?
  4. Where did you get the data?
  5. Who is maintaining the database?

1. What is ForestDefender?

ForestDefender is an online legal database prepared and maintained by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL). It presents a human rights-based approach for analyzing national policies against international standards by providing a snapshot of international human rights and obligations that are relevant in the context of forest governance.  

ForestDefender allows CIEL to reach lawyers, activists and community members around the world and to provide a clear, useable framework for engaging in this complex field.  Users can search through the information based on their specific needs.   For example, the webtool offers search capabilities from a country-specific perspective and a legal instruments perspective.  It presents the opportunity to do custom searches based on a user's particular circumstances.  ForestDefender also identifies accountability mechanisms that may be available to users depending on the treaties or funding flows involved. 

The original concept of ForestDefender stemmed from CIEL’s work to protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples and other forest-dependent communities in international efforts to mitigate climate change through forest protection, more commonly known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (known as REDD+). However, as the rights and obligations presented in the database are primarily based on countries' independent international commitments, this tool is applicable to the broader forest governance context.

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2. What kind of information can I find in this database?

ForestDefender presents to you information contained in international legal instruments relevant for forest governance, what rights are implicated by them, and to which major REDD+ countries those instruments apply.  The countries contained in this database were chosen based on their participation in key international REDD+ processes (such as FCPF, FIP, GEF, ITTO, and UN-REDD). You get to choose how you want to engage with the information as we provide different ways of searching the website. 

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3. What information is included in the Accountability page?

The Accountability page in ForestDefender is categorized by treaties and institutions that contain some process for individuals or communities to raise concerns about their rights or activities that affect them.  There is a description of the accountability mechanism as well as a web link where you can find additional information directly from the source.  Where possible, we have also pointed to guides or materials that lay out when a grievance mechanism applies; which institutional administrative body is mandated to address the claims on or behalf of affected communities; where the mandate is established; and, what the relevant procedures are. 

In addition to the Accountability page, when you use the database to search by country, instrument or any other filter of your choice, you will also be provided with information related to accountability.  For example, certain instrument articles throughout the database are tagged with the “Access to Justice/Effective Remedy” key term.  When relevant, your search results will point you to these specific provisions related to accountability.

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4. Where did you get the data?

ForestDefender includes information related to specific REDD+ participant countries and key international legal instruments relevant to forest governance.  It also provides information related to the rights and obligations therein.  

The country-related information comes from the Voluntary REDD+ Database.  Although not perfect, this database was chosen as our source of information for describing country-specific financial arrangements to ensure consistency. This database offers donors and recipient countries to provide relevant information.

The information on international legal instruments comes directly from the source: the treaties, declarations and decisions themselves.  Similarly, the information related to accountability mechanisms and treaty bodies come from each of the official websites for those processes.

ForestDefender also provide users with the opportunity to search the information using key terms that CIEL has interpreted and tagged.  In developing these key terms, we used a a “rights-based approach,” which is a framework that facilitates inclusion and integration of development and human rights considerations into laws and policies.  We have gone through each article within the instruments included in this database and associated them with relevant rights.  In general, the articles are tagged broadly so that you not only see where a right is specific in an instrument but also any provisions related to its implementation.  The next step is for you to take this information and apply it to your needs.  Please note that the database is intended as a guide and does not replace seeking advice from relevant international or national lawyers.  We hope that the information in this database helps empower you and/or your clients- such as communities affected by REDD+ and similar initiatives- to defend their rights and their forests, as well as achieve real progress towards stronger laws, safeguards and enforcement related to forest protection in REDD+ priority countries. 

 

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5. Who is maintaining the database?

The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) has organized information related to REDD+ rights and obligations into this Forest Defender database.  We will continue to maintain it, and will rely on you, our users, to provide us with feedback. 

 

In addition, if you have any suggestions for updates, especially related to national-level developments on forest governance or any other information, please let us know!  Provide us with your comments through our feedback page, found at the bottom center of each ForestDefender page.

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