Tropical Forest Margins assessment

Geographical coverage

Geographical scale of the assessment Regional
Country or countries covered Brazil, Cameroon, Philippines, Peru, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam
Any other necessary information or explanation for identifying the location of the assessment, including site or region name

The sites are located in ecoregions in the Peruvian Amazon, the western Amazon of Brazil, an associated site in the eastern Amazon of Brazil, the Congo Basin of Cameroon, northern Thailand, and the islands of Sumatra in Indonesia and Mindanao in the Philippines.

Conceptual framework, methodology and scope

Assessment objectives

To consider the impact of all drivers of deforestation and environmental degradation in the landscape mosaics (comprising both forests and agriculture) where global environmental problems and poverty coincide, at the margins of the remaining humid tropical forests.

Mandate for the assessment

The Tropical Forest Margins sub-global assessment (SGA) was the first crosscutting SGA in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA). It draws on more than fifteen years of research from the benchmark sites of the ASB-Partnership for Tropical Forest Margins.

Conceptual framework and/or methodology used for the assessment

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA)

URL or copy of conceptual framework developed or adapted

System(s) assessed

  • Forest and woodland
  • Cultivated/Agricultural land

Species groups assessed

Ecosystem services/functions assessed


  • Food
  • Water
  • Timber/fibres
  • Genetic resources


  • Air quality
  • Climate regulation
  • Regulation of water flows
  • Erosion prevention
  • Pest and disease control

Supporting Services/Functions

  • Habitat maintenance
  • Nutrient cycling
  • Soil formation and fertility
  • Primary production

Cultural Services

  • Recreation and tourism

Scope of assessment includes

Drivers of change in systems and services


Impacts of change in services on human well-being


Options for responding/interventions to the trends observed


Explicit consideration of the role of biodiversity in the systems and services covered by the assessment


Timing of the assessment

Year assessment started


Year assessment finished


If ongoing, year assessment is anticipated to finish

Periodicity of assessment

Assessment outputs


Prieto R.P., Patiño F, Ugarte J., Velarde S.J., Rivadeneyra C. (2006) Exploring the Future: Madre de Dios. Scenarios Workshop report, May 28-29, 2005. Universidad Nacional de Madre de Dios.

Tomich T., Alegre J., Areskoug V., Cattaneo A., Cornelius J., Ericksen P., Joshi L., Kasyoki J., Legg C., Locatelli M., Murdiyarso D., Palm C., Porro P., Rescia Perazzo A., Salazar-Vega A., Timmer D., van Noordwijk M., Velarde S.J., Weise S., White D. (2004) The Challenges of Integration. Report of an on-line consultation among researchers of the Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn (ASB) Programme. Presented at Conference Bridging Scales and Epistemologies: Linking Local Knowledge and Global Science in Multi-Scale Assessments. Alexandria, Egypt. March 17-20.

Tomich, T.P., C.A. Palm, S.J. Velarde, H. Geist, A.N. Gillison, L. Lebel, M. Locatelli, W. Mala, M. van Noordwijk, K. Sebastian, D. Timmer, and D. White, 2005: Forest and Agroecosystem Tradeoffs in the Humid Tropics. A Crosscutting Assessment by the Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn Consortium conducted as a sub-global component of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Alternatives to Slash and- Burn Programme, Nairobi, Kenya. [online] URL:

Communication materials (e.g. brochure, presentations, posters, audio-visual media)

Evans, K., Velarde, S.J., Prieto, R., Rao, S.N., Sertzen, S., Dávila, K., Cronkleton P. and de Jong, W. 2006. Field guide to the Future: Four Ways for Communities to Think Ahead. Bennett E. and Zurek M. (eds.). Nairobi: Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), ASB, World Agroforestry Centre. p.87. URL:

Life on the Edge: An assessment of ecosystem health and human wellbeing on the margins of the world's tropical rainforests (2005) Brochure.

López M, R Prieto, SJ Velarde, 2006. Construyendo el Futuro de Chalaco, Reporte del Taller de Escenarios, 20 y 21 de Mayo de 2005. Municipalidad Distrital de Chalaco, Colegio Secundario “San Fernando”, Chalaco. ASB, Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina (UNALM), World Agroforestry Centre y Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Piura, Perú. URL:

Journal publications

Bentes-Gama M., Oliveira V.B., Vieira A.H., Locatelli M., Rodrigues V.G.S., Medeiros I. de M., Martins E.P. 2006. Fortalecimiento fo Manejo Florestal Comunitário en assentamento rural Amazônia Ocidental, Rondônia, Brasil. In: Congresso Latino Americano da IUFRO, 2. La Serena, Anais. La Serena: Instituto Florestal de Chile.

Tomich T., Timmer D.W., Velarde S.J., Alegre J., Areskoug V., Cash D.W., Cattaneo A., Ericksen P., Joshi L., Kasyoki J., Legg C., Locatelli M., Murdiyarso D., Palm C., Porro P., Rescia Perazzo A., Salazar-Vega A., van Noordwijk M., Weise S., White D. (2007) Integrative science in practice: process perspectives from the ASB, Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment 121 (3) 269-286.

Training materials

ASB MA Training for Scenarios Facilitators Workshop, 17-23 November, Chiang Mai, Thailand. Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn Programme, Nairobi, Kenya. 30pp

Other documents/outputs

Palm C. A., Vosti S.A., Sanchez P.A, and Ericksen P.J., eds. (2005) Slash and-Burn Agriculture: The Search for Alternatives. Colombia University Press, New York, NY, USA, 463pp.

Tools and processes

Tools and approaches used in the assessment

  • Modelling
  • Trade-off analysis
  • Geospatial analysis
  • Indicators
  • Scenarios
  • Stakeholder consultations
  • Response options

Process used for stakeholder engagement in the assessment process and which component

Community-level assessments were a key part of the Tropical Forest Margins assessment process. Production of guidelines and most of the field work and interviews were conducted within several communities in each benchmark area.

Some process-related lessons learnt • Stakeholders are more keen on participate when/where there is a training opportunity. • Policymakers constantly change and it is necessary to educate each generation / re-engage. • Climate change is a hot issue and can serve as an entry point for future assessment together with food security for example. • Water needs to be assessed at local level. Also, assessment at regional or basin level need to be publicly available, discussed with stakeholders

Key stakeholder groups engaged

  1. Local communities
  2. Small-holder farmers
  3. Scientists from all project countries
  4. National level policy makers
  5. Technical staffs

The number of people directly involved in the assessment process

Incorporation of scientific and other types of knowledge

Supporting documentation for specific approaches, methodology or criteria developed and/or used to integrate knowledge systems into the assessment


The MA facilitated increased participatory research and brought to the ASB-Partnership a new tool: scenarios.

Few of the partners in the ASB-Partnership had prior experience with scenarios before the Tropical Forest Margins assessment. A global training and participatory scenario exercises programme was developed as part of the Tropical Forest Margins assessment, but further training is necessary for capacity building in using scenarios. The following scenarios were developed in association with the assessment.

  1. In Northern Peru, two scenario exercises were developed with students of secondary schools, higher education technical students, and technicians from the Sustainable Development Mountain Ecosystem Programme to develop and build awareness on how the ecosystem can be preserved in the watershed.
  2. In the Madre de Dios and Ucayali, in the Peruvian Amazon, scenarios were used to explore and raise awareness on the environmental, social and economic implications of the new transoceanic road that connects the Amazon of Brazil and Peru crossing biodiversity hotspot areas.
  3. Cameroon landscape scenarios were developed with community members at the village level. The scenarios were based on the time scale: 1970, 2000 and 2030. In this particular case, results of the scenarios were inconsistent with scientific findings.
  4. Brazil regional and local scale scenarios used an economic model to test the effects of devaluation on a landscape/forest area in Brazil. Results were used for informing policy-making in the Brazilian Enterprise for Agriculture and Livestock Research (Embrapa). Results are available in IFPRI report 130. In addition, local scenarios were developed with Nilson Campos settlement in the state of Rondonia. They helped settlers to think about the implications of adopting community forest management.
  5. The Montane Southeast Asia landscape scenarios used four contrasting socio-economic development models projected in 10 year intervals from 2000 to 2050. Results will be used in regional and national strategy.
  6. In Thailand, participatory scenarios in the Mae Kong Kha sub-watershed of Mae Chaem watershed helped ease tensions between water users (upstream and downstream), and local communities and administrators joined forces to plan for sustainable natural resource management.

Pantropic land-cover change scenarios were developed to project change through 2025 in the humid tropical forests. Results of the scenarios are published on the ASB-Partnership for Tropical Forest Margins web page: .

Assessment reports peer reviewed



Accessibility of data used in assessment

Policy impact

Impacts the assessment has had on policy and/or decision making, as evidenced through policy references and actions

Independent or other review on policy impact of the assessment


Lessons learnt for future assessments from these reviews

The ASB Partnership will continue to build on the results it attained both during and prior to the MA assessment. The Tropical Forest Margins MA results will be used to help identify research priorities, policy options, and land-use strategies to improve natural resource management both locally and globally. Results are aimed at policy-makers and decision-makers dealing with land use in tropical countries.

Capacity building

Capacity building needs identified during the assessment

  1. Ecosystems assessment: a new concept for partners
  2. Dealing with complexity of nested, multi-scale approaches, not only for process but integration of knowledge.

Actions taken by the assessment to build capacity

Workshops, Formal training

How have gaps in capacity been communicated to the different stakeholders

Knowledge generation

Gaps in knowledge identified from the assessment

  1. Knowledge is distributed different across groups with conflicting interests.
  2. Landscape mosaics focus. No information at watershed, landscape and community scales for understanding connections of biodiversity/hydrology with agronomic/economic sustainability.
  3. How to up-scale plot level to farm to community and to link to biological information, socio-economic indicators

How gaps in knowledge have been communicated to the different stakeholders

Additional relevant information