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Development Aid

Fern’s aim is to improve the quality of EU and Member State aid so it contributes to the protection of forests and the recognition of forest peoples' rights.

Fern’s analysis:The European Union is by far the world’s largest donor. In 2013 the top 12 donors, in terms of the proportion of Overseas Development Aid (ODA) to Gross National Income, were European countries. European ODA increased from EUR 40.4 billion in 2002 to EUR 70.0 billion in 2012.EU ODA commitments for climate change mitigation increased more than four-fold between 2007 and 2011, reaching EUR 0.98 billion in 2011. The European country giving most aid was Norway and Germany was the Member State which spent the most on biodiversity. The element of ODA that went to forest-related projects also dramatically increased between 2002 and 2012, from EUR 130.2 million to EUR 493.2 million, while disbursements identified as biodiversity increased from EUR 74.8 million to EUR 329.6 million. Although this is all positive in principle, the increase in spending has often gone hand in hand with cuts in staff. Furthermore not all spending ensures that the rights of local people are being respected.

What Fern is doing: Fern has been working on this issue since 1995. Successes include ensuring that country environmental profiles (reports analysing the country's environmental situation) must now guarantee all aid programmes take ecological considerations and the rights of local communities into account. More recently our work has focused on effective implementation of the EU FLEGT Programme, funded by the European Commission and EU Member States (see

To learn more about this campaign:see history of the EC Forest Platform or Taking stock: Tracking trends in European Aid for forests and communities.

Most recent publications

Link between poverty reduction and forests

Obvious, yet often forgotten, is the importance of natural resources and a healthy environment for poverty alleviation.
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After the tsunami : the EC and the environment in rebuilding Indonesia

FERN briefing note discussing the role of the EC in post-tsunami Aceh.
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Forestwatch Issue 95

  • DG Trade talks with NGOs from the South
  • Environmental degradation blocks the road to development goals
  • Commission must pull its weight
  • Plantations in Brazil present threat to indigenous peoples
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Forest Loss and Human Health

Briefing focusing on the interdependence between forests and human health and reflects these concerns in the policies, programmes and projects of the EU
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Forestwatch Issue 94

  • Congo Basin treaty ignors civil concerns
  • EU Action Plan on Forest Management
  • Life+ : a new hope for nature?
  • Illegal logging in Georgia
  • EU wins Contonou agreement
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