Skip to Content

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

Forestwatch Issue 134

  • Wood criteria threaten green procurement
  • Civil society gagged
  • Forest offsets remain excluded from ETS – for now
  • Ilisu Dam: not dead yet
  • EU biodiversity goals: Failure in progress
  • FERN/Forest Peoples Programme Poznan Special
PDF iconPDF164.41 KB
PDF iconPoznan special127.72 KB

Forestwatch Issue 132

  • FSC must improve its performance
  • Biofuel bonus
  • Council prepares for Poznan
  • ASEAN inches toward human rights organ
  • Clearer guidelines for Natura 2000
PDF iconPDF221.54 KB

Forestwatch Issue 130

  • Accra climate forests discussions yield few results
  • Cautious optimism at Ghana VPA launch
  • Proposal to control illegal timber postponed again
  • Ongoing struggles in Liberia
  • The true cost of monoculture tree plantations
PDF iconOPEN217.54 KB

Forestwatch Issue 129

  • Congo VPA process launched
  • Forest funding questioned
  • MEPs vote for reduced agrofuel target
  • Is EC aid ready to fulfil its sustainability target?
  • US bans illegal timber
PDF iconOPEN231.09 KB
HTML iconHTML41.53 KB

Seeing RED; avoided deforestation and rights issues

This briefing explains why the UNFCC Conference in Bali (December 2007) needs to answer certain important questions related to forest governance and forest peoples' rights before negotiating a post-2012 climate agreement that may include forests.
PDF iconOPEN331.3 KB

Still waiting for the benefits

Establishing good relations between wildlife resources in the reserve and the local and indigenous communities living in and around the reserve is the most important element to be considered in subsequent phases of the ECOFAC programme. This report puts forward recommendations for how this can be achieved.

PDF iconstill waiting for the benefits.pdf915.92 KB