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Programmes Tropical Forests

Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests

The Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests was established with Oxford Martin School funding in 2008 and the grant from the School ended in June 2015. Although the programme no longer receives funding from the Oxford Martin School, its Director, Professor Yadvinder Malhi, is actively involved with the School as an Oxford Martin Senior Fellow.

Project Description

The Challenge

Tropical forests are perhaps the greatest treasures of life on Earth, housing half of all biodiversity, much of which has yet to be observed or described. To protect these resources, there is a need to develop further both state and non-state governance within the forest sector.


The Centre exists to strengthen understanding of how state and non-state institutions and actors shape decisions about the conservation and use of forest resources around the world.


The Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests brings together Oxford's vast intellectual capital and expertise on practical issues, creating a unique network of University departments and neighbouring NGOs, consultancies and businesses. It is a platform for broader collaboration between Oxford institutions and the global forest community.


Since 2009, the forest governance team has worked with partners at the universities of Queensland and Copenhagen, and the UN Environment Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) to create the Global Database on Protected Area Management Effectiveness (GD-PAME); the only global database on protected area management. The GD-PAME now holds data for over 9000 protected areas worldwide, and is being used to track global progress towards international conservation targets, and to measure the impact of protected area management interventions in conserving the world’s biodiversity.

The team has been involved in an EU-wide project looking at management of Europe’s forest landscapes, INTEGRAL. They have been reviewing the current state of knowledge on the EU’s global footprint, assessing EU policy responses, and considering how this knowledge might inform participatory processes addressing land use in the EU.

In 2012, the Centre launched the Global Ecosystem Monitoring network (GEM), an international effort to understand and measure forest ecosystems and how they will respond to climate change. The network now spans three continents, with data being gathered by more than 40 researchers across 10 projects. A busy online portal allows an international team to exchange knowledge, results and best practice.

Centre researchers are part of an international team that includes think tanks and NGOs, working to analyse the links between ecosystem services and sustainable poverty reduction. By examining how benefits derived from ecosystem services are distributed among different stakeholders, the factors underlying these processes and their potential impacts, the framework being developed will help decision-makers minimise negative impacts on equity and maximise positive impacts on poverty alleviation.


the Centre’s contribution to research in this field is already helping to shape policy and management frameworks in many areas of the world, and has the potential to protect vital areas of forest.