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Research network builds a cadre of researchers to improve forest landscape governance

Explore in Southeast Asia aims for 50 percent female researchers dedicated to improving landscape governance.

RECOFTC and CIFOR-ICRAF launched the world’s first research network dedicated to forest landscape governance, in October 2020. Explore aims to benefit more than 190 million people living in and around forest landscapes in Southeast Asia. It works to strengthen rights, reduce poverty and inequity and contribute to achieving sustainable development.

Southeast Asia is one of the most forested regions in the world. Nearly 50 percent of its land area is covered by forests that contain many of the remaining biodiversity hotspots. The good governance of these forests is crucial to conserving biodiversity, overcoming climate change and ensuring the good health and well-being of people throughout the region. 

These forests are also important for safeguarding against pandemic outbreaks and infectious diseases, such as COVID-19. Yet, between 1990 and 2015, Southeast Asia lost more than 11 percent of its forests to infrastructure development and agricultural expansion.

“Forests are vital to life on Earth,” says David Ganz, Executive Director of RECOFTC. “Yet, they are under increasing pressure in Southeast Asia from unsustainable economic development, climate change, demographic shifts and conflicts over tenure and land use. Explore is multiplying the power of research to support governments and the people of Southeast Asia to overcome these challenges.”


Explore is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). It is hosted by RECOFTC, in partnership with CIFOR-ICRAF and in collaboration with universities, research institutes, governments, civil society organizations, local communities and the private sector from across Southeast Asia. 

Sida is excited to partner with Southeast Asia’s researchers in this effort to create new knowledge that addresses the climate crisis and improves the well-being of all people across the region. – Eren Zink, Senior Research Advisor, Embassy of Sweden, Thailand

Through research grants, mentorship, dialogue and collaboration, Explore encourages high-quality research that will improve forest landscape governance in the region. Explore takes a multidisciplinary, participatory and inclusive multistakeholder approach. It emphasizes gender equality and social inclusion. More than 50 percent of its advisory board members are women, and it seeks equal representation by female researchers. 

In August 2021, Explore released its first call for concept notes under its preparatory grant mechanism for research on forest landscape governance. By December, it had selected 19 concept notes and research teams. The 19 teams include 224 researchers from 67 research institutions and universities across the region. By early 2022, the teams were developing research proposals. 

“We have been supporting the research teams every step of the way,” says David Gritten, Explore program manager. “They have had training in participatory action research, research methods and how to develop effective communication strategies. They are also learning approaches for influencing government policy. We anticipate that we will have many strong proposals when the teams submit their final proposals for review in August 2022.” 

In phase 2, many of the research proposals will be funded by Explore and other donors.

“Sida is excited to partner with Southeast Asia’s researchers in this effort to create new knowledge that addresses the climate crisis and improves the well-being of all people across the region, especially persons living in poverty, women and other marginalized groups,” says Eren Zink, senior research advisor at the Embassy of Sweden in Bangkok. “The network will work to ensure that the rights of indigenous and local communities living in and around forests are recognized and respected.”


Explore is supported by a community of practice hosted by the Global Landscapes Forum. To learn more about Explore, including how to become a network member, visit