EFI’s Forest Governance Index

The Forest Governance Index (FGI) developed by the European Forest Institute (EFI) is a tool for assessing and monitoring the governance aspects relevant to the management, protection, and conservation of forests. It is the result of a collaborative effort between the International Partnership Facility and the Governance Programme, respectively coordinated by EFI Barcelona and EFI Bonn. 

Community gathered under a tree in Africa

What is the Forest Governance Index?

The Forest Governance Index (FGI) is a tool designed to assess and monitor governance related to the production, protection and conservation of forests. It provides evidence-based assessments that use indicators to understand the state of governance in a country. These indicators are based on evidence rather than subjective perceptions. The FGI can be used to track changes in a country over time, including at earlier periods.

The assessment covers changes in areas that are often addressed by forest-related policy processes. Most of the areas of governance and indicators respond equally to different forest-related policy processes. However, some areas, such as participation, may vary greatly depending on the policy process being evaluated. A country assessment can therefore cover one or more policy processes. Which policy processes are assessed is determined at the start of the assessment. 

Why was the Forest Governance Index developed?

In 2018, EFI looked at how existing global indices measured governance and whether they could be used to assess governance in the forest sector. EFI concluded that these indices were not suitable for assessing forest governance due to their lack of specificity to the sector. As a result, EFI practitioners and researchers developed the Forest Governance Index in 2019. This index includes a set of indicators and an approach to gather evidence on forest governance at the national or subnational level. 

Workers measuring a log

Why use the Forest Governance Index? 

The Forest Governance Index has versatile applications:

  • It can help stakeholders understand the current state of forest governance and track changes over time.
  • It can serve as a basis for engaging stakeholders in conversation on forest governance, regulatory compliance and law enforcement within and between countries.
  • It can help in identifying areas for improvements in forest governance and provides insights into how these improvements can be made.

Which governance aspects are measured?

The Forest Governance Index assesses five key areas of governance:

  1. Stakeholder participation 
  2. Legislative and institutional clarity 
  3. Accountability and oversight 
  4. Transparency
  5. Compliance promotion and enforcement

Each of these areas is evaluated through a set of indicators that is structured according to three levels, providing insights into different types of changes:

  • Level 1: Legal indicators assess the existence of relevant legal provisions within the national legal framework that promote good governance.
  • Level 2: Mechanism indicators evaluate the existence of tools, mechanisms, or processes that effectively implement the legal provisions.
  • Level 3: Implementation indicators gauge the extent to which the tools, mechanisms, or processes are effectively used and implemented.

Figure 1. Schematic representation of the Forest Governance Index

  Figure 1. Schematic representation of the Forest Governance Index


In addition, the Forest Governance Index evaluates three essential characteristics, referred to as key features, for each of the five governance areas, providing a comprehensive understanding of aspects of governance. 

FGI resources