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Mapping the landscape of NGOs working to protect forests

A new report published by the UK Environmental Funders Network maps out the civil society organizations working to address deforestation.

The report, ‘Saving the Rainforests: Civil Society Mapping’, profiles 65 environmental and social justice organizations, enabling readers to identify gaps and overlaps in the landscape of groups working to reduce global forest loss. The report specifically aims to inform grantmakers providing funds to civil society organizations.

“The mapping was inspired by the observation that good philanthropy is similar to acupuncture – philanthropic grants may be small in size compared to the body politic, but when inserted in the right place they can have enormous impact,” said Harriet Williams, lead author of the report. “The methodology that we’re developing is applicable to any complex environmental issue.”

The report — together with a map, published separately — classifies NGOs into nine “storylines” to categorize organizational culture: “Knowledge Builders”, “Peoples Heroes”, “Institution Watchers”, “Finance Pioneers”, “Standard Setters”, “Parks Rangers”, “Brand Attackers”, “Critical Friends”, and
“Consumer Guides”. For example, the report distinguishes between groups that often work with business (“Critical Friends”) to those who expose environmental transgressors amoung corporations (“Brand Attackers”). The map evaluates the stance of various organizations on issues including carbon offsets, REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), and certification schemes for forest products.

“Although there is broad consensus on the urgency of protecting tropical forests, and the critical role of NGOs in the collective effort, we actually know very little about the non-profit landscape: what are the specializations, and who is doing what?” Bernard Mercer of the Forests Philanthropy Action Network said in a statement. “This mapping project is a terrific contribution for funders who want to support work in this area but are perplexed on where the challenges and opportunities lie.”

“With so many different approaches and roles among forest focused NGOs, it is wonderful to have a useful map of some of the players and approaches,” added David Rothschild, Senior Programme Officer at the Skoll Foundation, in the statement. “The presentation encourages strategic thinking about many of the inputs needed for increased impact, and how we are going to get there.”

Harriet Williams and Jon Cracknell. Saving the Rainforests: Civil Society Mapping. UK Environmental Funders Network. MARCH 2010

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