IFM Training Materials


Over the last decade, a number of organisations have provided training in Independent Forest Monitoring (IFM) and developed manuals and other materials to support this training. The materials presented here are a consolidation of these materials, presented as a set of PowerPoint presentations, group exercises, and handouts.

These materials are designed to be downloaded individually to suit particular training needs or the duration of a training course (see curriculum and suggested timetables), and also to be adapted to local circumstances. For this reason and to make them faster to download they contain very few images or local content.

Who are these materials for?

The materials are aimed at civil society organisations and other practitioners of IFM in order that they can provide high-quality training workshops. They are designed primarily to be downloaded and used by trainers, although trainees or participants are also welcome to download them. They also provide a useful reference for anyone involved in IFM to understand more about particular aspects they might be interested in.

Structure of the materials

The materials are grouped into six modules, within which there are sections and then individual downloads. Modules A and F are to support the modalities of a training course, with model application forms and evaluation forms, for example. The main training materials modules (B to E) include learning objectives to help describe their purpose.

The curriculum describes all the modules, learning objectives, and a synopsis of each PowerPoint presentation, training exercise or handout. We have provided three sample timetables to assist with structuring your training.

The Training Materials

Suggested Timetables

The following sample timetables have been used in previous training. They may help you to structure your course and give you an idea of which modules you need to download.

  • Two-day course: As part of the Improving Forest Governance course for example.
  • Four-day course: for those already familiar with forest governance issues, including a one-day field trip.
  • Nine-day course: Full course, comprising all the modules, a field trip and practice writing an IFM report.

Module A: Preparation

Image taken frmo CED’s Simplified External Forest Monitoring Guide for the use of CommunitiesModule A: Preparation

Module A provides materials in preparation for a training course, and for the introductory session. These materials could also be easily adapted for training on other topics.

a.1 Pre-workshop preparations

  • a.1.1 Handout: Checklist for training workshop
    This checklist includes setting training objectives and matching these to the target group.
  • a.1.2 Template: Application form
    This is a model application form to help assess suitable participants for an IFM training  course

a.2 Workshop introductions

  • a.2.1 Template: Pre-evaluation
    As it could be some weeks or months between when participants applied and when the course starts, this template provides an up-to-date baseline assessment of participants’ ability at the start of a training course.
  • a.2.2 Exercise: Training expectations
    This exercise allows participants to inform each other about their expectations, and thus to identify priorities to emphasise during the training course.
  • a.2.3 Handout: Workshop rules
    This handout is an aide memoire for agreeing about laptop and phone use etc. in the workshop.

Module B: Context

Image taken frmo CED’s Simplified External Forest Monitoring Guide for the use of CommunitiesModule B: Context

Module B discusses illegalities in the forest sector and efforts to combat this. These materials are not specific to IFM, so could be used on other training courses, or dropped from an IFM course if participants are already familiar with these topics.

b.1 What is Illegal?

The learning objectives of the first part of the Context module are:

  • To bring participants to a similar level of knowledge regarding what is illegal, including emphasis on what might not be ‘right’ but isn’t breaking any law.
  • To develop participants’ understanding of the underlying factors for illegality.

By the end of this component participants should have developed a nuanced understanding of legality, and an appreciation of the importance of being accurate and evidence-based when making judgements.

b.1.1 Exercise: What is Illegal?
Two exercises are included here, to get people thinking from the start about what is ‘illegal’, and to see what their initial level of understanding is.

b.1.2 Presentation: Causes and nature of illegality
This presentation aims to get participants to think about why illegality matters, but also how some legal practices are inequitable and/or destructive. It concludes with discussion on the kinds of illegalities communities can observe.

b.1.3 Handout: Illegality checklist
This handout lists the kinds of things to investigate, from permit allocation processes through forest operations and social obligations to fraud, environmental responsibilities and litigation.

b.2 Regulatory structure

The learning objectives of this second part of the Context module are:

  • To increase participant’s knowledge of the key elements of the forest legal framework in their country and the role of different actors to ensure these laws are understood and adhered to. This is what we call forest control.
  • To develop participants’ understanding of both the rights forest-dependent communities might have, and the roles civil society and communities can play in forest control.
  • To ensure participants have a grasp of the major initiatives to improve governance, in particular FLEGT, and the links to IFM.

By the end of this component participants should be in a positon to know what contribution IFM can make, prior to the next Module, Setting up IFM.

b.2.1 Presentation: Forest regulatory structure
This is a ‘skeleton’ presentation, as it needs to be completed for each country by a competent local forest legal expert who can describe in detail the outline points made here.

b.2.2 Presentation: Free prior informed consent
This detailed presentation on what is meant by free, prior, and informed consent includes some questions to test participant’s knowledge of this important issue.

b.2.3 Handout: Who checks what where?
This handout provides a detailed set of tables to help determine the roles of different people and to identify key documents for forest control / law enforcement.

b.2.4 Presentation: What role does civil society have in forest law enforcement & governance?
This presentation contains a set of discussion points identifying the limitations official forest control faces, and therefore the part civil society can play, with particular focus on FLEGT as an opportunity and monitoring as a mechanism.

b.2.5 Exercise: How is FLEGT an opportunity?
A small group exercise to improve understanding and limitations of FLEGT, following from the references to it in the previous presentation.

Module C: Setting up an IFM initiative

Image taken frmo CED’s Simplified External Forest Monitoring Guide for the use of CommunitiesModule C: Setting up an IFM initiative

Module C provides the basis for establishing IFM, covering the spectrum of fully mandated monitors working to a terms of reference offered by a forest authority through to fully self-mandated civil society-led IFM.

c.1 Introduction to IFM

The learning objectives of this first part of the module on setting up an IFM initiative are:

  • To encourage participants to take a critical and reflective view of other similar initiatives and understand the importance to adapting the approach to their own circumstances.
  • To fully understand the differences between audit and monitoring, mandated and self-mandated approaches, and the links to impact monitoring and forest control.
  • To be able to identify the opportunities for CS-IFM provided in the local legal context, including where relevant a VPA, in order to secure some form of legitimacy for CS-IFM.

By the end of this component participants should be in a positon to know what the probable ways forward are if they were to establish an IFM initiative in their local context.

c.1.1 Exercise: History of IFM
A video made in 2005 forms the basis of small group exercises to highlight how IFM might be different today, in your country.

c.1.2 Presentation: Types of independent monitoring
An introduction to the different terms: independent monitoring, independent audit, civil society-led independent monitoring and forest control. The presentation also covers the idea of ‘concentric rings of monitoring’ under FLEGT, and some of the reasons why different stakeholders support IFM.

c.1.3 Handout: Checklist of possible monitors
This table, to be completed by prospective monitors, helps identify different potential monitoring functions (by public, private, and civil society organisations).

c.1.4 Presentation: Legal basis for IFM in your country
This presentation should be adapted for each training by a competent local forest legal expert. It provides some pointers and seven country examples, based on a major review of IFM and the VPAs in 2013. It finishes with some suggested questions for participants to help them think about the local legal context.

c.2 IFM by civil society & communities

The learning objectives of this second part of the module on setting up an IFM initiative are:

  • To have a full understanding of the core principles of IFM that distinguish it from other approaches.
  • To be able to explore how communities might be involved in IFM, including the opportunities and constraints this might involve.
  • To have practiced formulating project objectives for IFM as a basis for structuring and funding any initiative.

By the end of this component participants should fully appreciate the way in which IFM is structured – an ideal model from which different real initiatives can be adapted – and be able to develop project-type objectives for doing so.

c.2.1 Presentation: Principles of IFM
This presentation is the core of IFM: ten key principles as gold standard against which actual initiatives can be compared.

c.2.2 Presentation: Specific aspects of IFM by communities
This presentation identifies some strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of involving community members as monitors, and summarises initiatives where this is happening in Africa, Asia and South America.

c.2.3 Handout: Example objectives
This handout provides copies of the IFM project objectives from various past experiences, as a basis for developing objectives customised to new situations.

Consolidation of concepts

The end of Module C represents the mid-point of a training course, where the key concepts have been covered and before starting on practical implementation of IFM. It’s a good time to pause and check that participants have fully understood the concepts and to answer any questions they may have.

Module D: Implementing an IFM initiative

Image taken frmo CED’s Simplified External Forest Monitoring Guide for the use of CommunitiesModule D: Implementing an IFM initiative

Module D focus on the practical aspects of conducting IFM investigations. It does not provide detailed instructions on how to use a GPS, video camera, smartphone etc. as this varies with the model in use.

The learning objectives of this module are:

  • To be able to present a convincing argument in support of initiating IFM, and identify some of the rationale in funding applications.
  • To know how to select priority destinations or subjects for IFM investigations, and to make the necessary preparations for conducting field work.
  • To have the skills to conduct field and other research to a high evidential standard.

By the end of this component participants should be able to conduct the practical aspects of IFM including establishing an initiative and conducting field missions or other research tasks. The module consists of classroom presentations and small group exercises, and would benefit from a practical component to actually use GPS and other equipment, and practice interviewing techniques.

d.1 Establishing IFM

d.1.1 Exercise: Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
This small group exercise starts participants off by helping them to understand the opportunities and constraints IFM might provide. There is a possible variation to the exercise that also looks at different stakeholder perspectives.

d.1.2 Presentation: Case selection and field preparations
The presentation for this part of the module offers different approaches to deciding where to conduct IFM field research and associated practical and methodological considerations. It then identifies what equipment and other preparations might be needed to conduct fieldwork.

d.1.3 Handout: Checklist – where to go: Decision matrix for mission planning
This handout provides a simple matrix to help independent monitors plan and prioritise IFM field research, including a list to help to ensure a range of forestry locations are covered over time.

d.2 In the field

d.2.1 Presentation: Field techniques
The presentation for this part of module introduces the range of field techniques IFM might use, including interviews, GPS, and camera. It also covers some particular aspects of joint ‘field missions’ alongside forest officials.

d.2.2 Handout: Checklist – what to take
This handout is a checklist of the equipment for travelling, for conducting IFM, and for personal use when doing fieldwork.

d.2.3 Handout: Finding a document
This handout identifies some points to consider when seeking to obtain documents. This is followed by a list of documents that might be needed for IFM investigations.

Module E: Using what you find

Image taken frmo CED’s Simplified External Forest Monitoring Guide for the use of CommunitiesModule E: Using what you find

Module E provides advice on report-writing, publication, and follow-up, including maintaining credibility, trust and security.

The learning objectives of this module are:

  • To promote the systematic and diligent safekeeping and analysis of documentary and field data in order to produce professional and robust reports.
  • To provide a model structure for IFM reports, bearing in mind different monitoring activities and different audiences will require different products.
  • To emphasise that producing a report is the start not the end of a process, and the publication, dissemination and follow-up is of great importance for systemic change.

By the end of this component participants should have a full understanding of the analysis and report writing process, including the ‘opportunity to comment’ that should be provided to key protagonists, and be able to manage and follow-up on the outputs from IFM for maximum impact.

e.1 Documenting & reporting

e.1.1 Presentation: Analysis
This presentation covers data management and the importance of accurate and objective analysis prior to writing a report.

e.1.2 Exercise: Reports, audiences, and strategies
This small group exercise discusses different types of report for different audiences, and examines how reports help ‘make change happen’ or help ensure an appropriate response to the evidence presented.

e.1.3 Presentation: Report writing
This presentation suggests a report structure, and describes the opportunity-to-comment and peer-review processes to help ensure reports are of a high quality.

e.1.4 Handout: Opportunity to comment letter
This handout is a model letter laying out the structure for requesting pre-publication comments from each person the report makes the allegations about.

e.2 Publication & follow-up

e.2.1 Presentation: Ensuring reports lead to change
This presentation provides advice on making sure IFM reports have a real impact, including some of the sensitivities involved in engaging with decision makers. It also offers ideas for case-tracking systems as a way to track changes over time in response to IFM.

e.2.2 Presentation: Credibility, trust and security
This final presentation highlights some of the risks, obstacles and unintended consequences of IFM, and notes the importance of maintaining credibility, trust and security to help ameliorate these. It concludes with suggestions for a Memorandum of Understanding with the forest authority to protect the rights and responsibilities of each side.

Module F: Next steps

Image taken frmo CED’s Simplified External Forest Monitoring Guide for the use of CommunitiesModule F: Next steps

f.1 After training

f.1.1 Exercise: Follow-up action points
This exercise encourages participants to identify and share their own immediate next steps after the training in order that the training can be put into effect as soon as possible.

f.1.2 Template: evaluation form
This evaluation form is similar to the pre-evaluation (template a.2.1) and so provides an assessment at the end of a training course that can be compared to the assessment at the start.

Download the Training Materials

In order to download the materials, please complete the following form. You will then be redirected to the downloads page.


These materials have been collated by David Young and draw extensively on the work of experienced IFM trainers and practitioners, in particular the following organisations: Forets et Développement Rural (FODER); Global WitnessResource Extraction Monitoring (REM); Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT).

In addition to these organisations, the production and publication of these materials has been made possible in part through the financial assistance of the European Union and UK Aid provided to CIDT (through SAFG, EUCFPR and CV4C projects), and Global Witness between 2014 and 2017. The contents remain the sole responsibility of the author and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union or the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

Many other people supported the publication of these materials, including CIDT’s Richard Nyirenda, Aurelian Mbzibain, Khadidja Amine (translation) and Russell Goffe-Wood (design).


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