Community-based forest management and adaptation to climate change

Title: Community-based forest management and adaptation to climate change (Clifor)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Honduras
Lead executing agencies: Ministry of Energy, Natural Resources, Environment and Mines (MiAmbiente), National Institute of Forest Conservation (ICF), Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (SAG), Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion (SEDIS)
Overall term: 2014 to 2018

Honduras. A woman from the Buena Vista agricultural and forest cooperative makes pinewood chip for the local market. © GIZ


Over half of Honduras is covered by forest, but these stocks are in steady decline. Non-sustainable agricultural and livestock farming practices, excessive fuelwood extraction, illegal felling and forest fires are driving an estimated two per cent loss of forest cover annually. At the same time, Honduras is one of the countries hardest hit by climate change anywhere in the world. The intensity and variability of rainfall, flooding, hurricanes and droughts have increased markedly. The country’s generally poor soils are at serious risk of erosion due to inappropriate management, making them even more vulnerable to extreme weather events.

The political framework for promoting sustainable resource usage and the pertinent strategies – for example the national forestry law and its corresponding programme (PRONAFOR, 2010 – 2030), the national climate change strategy, other standards and regulations – are so far only being implemented to a limited extent.

At the decentralised level, a number of local initiatives have emerged that target sustainable forest and resource use; for example, through community-based forest management or the management of smaller water catchment areas. But given the government’s weak support for local actors – both in financial terms and with regard to consulting resources and legal certainty – sustainable management of these ecosystems is yet to be established.


By engaging in community-based forest management and climate change adaptation measures, rural communities and local actors improve their social and economic situation as well as the environmental conditions.

Honduras. Clifor personnel give the rural population in Yoro some practical advice on how to adapt to climate change in the forest sector. © GIZ


The Clifor programme combines sustainable forest management with the socio-economic development of rural communities while improving their ability to adapt to climate change. Clifor’s approach involves transferring the management of public or municipally owned territories with forest stocks to agroforestry organisations. These organisations help to boost local food security and income generation through the sustainable use of forest resources, the marketing of forest products and agricultural production.

The programme is cofinanced by the European Union (EU). The GFA Consulting Group is assisting programme implementation at five of the six locations.

Clifor’s three priority areas of activity are:

  1. Community-based forest management
    With the programme’s assistance, ICF is transferring rights of use for forested areas to local communities. Clifor provides technical advisory services to encourage the sustainable management of these forest areas. It is also supporting integrated small-scale agriculture.
  2. Climate change
    Clifor aims to reduce vulnerability to the negative impacts of climate change among communities managing forested areas locally by rolling out adaptation measures that are designed and implemented in a participatory manner. The agricultural, forest and forest grazing measures developed as part of water catchment area management are firmly integrated into the planning instruments used by ICF and the communities. Furthermore, by devising climate change strategies and strengthening ICF’s institutional capacity, Clifor is promoting the implementation of the country’s national and international climate goals.
  3. Knowledge management / applied research
    Together with universities and research centres, the Clifor programme aims to update key curricula for municipal forest management and climate change adaptation. It is also supporting applied research projects and scientific events on the topics of community-based forest management, climate change, agroforestry, forest grazing and biodiversity.

Results achieved so far

  • Almost 290,000 hectares of forest have been transferred to 41 agroforestry organisations and another 17 areas covering more than 290,000 hectares are in the process of being transferred. The transferred forests show no signs of illegal felling. Less than 1 per cent of forest area has been lost to forest fire.
  • An appropriate gender strategy is being implemented and 26 small-scale production-oriented projects have been initiated with women’s groups.
  • Climate change adaptation measures are being carried out in 32 communities.
  • Agroforestry, forest grazing and domestic gardens are being promoted in 15 agroforestry organisations. 26 action plans have been drawn up for the management of smaller-scale water catchment areas.
  • The programme is assisting two universities with updating their curricula, organising nine local, national and international specialist events and running a scholarship programme for applied research within the scope of university internships and degree theses.
  • 11 EU-funded subsidy agreements have been signed. They are being implemented by national and international organisations and universities. The overall volume is 3.2 million euros.