Innovative and evidence-supported solutions to sustain and protect forests in a manner that fosters local livelihoods.

ForLives engages in dialogue at the highest levels to ensure that forests, livelihoods, and Indigenous rights are at the forefront of discussions on sustainable development.

Our results are widely communicated in appropriate formats to our partners, policy makers, practitioners, communities and academics.

Areas of Expertise

Integrated and interdisciplinary. We focus on some of the most challenging global goals and wicked problems of the next half century.


Collectively, we have worked in countries all over the world, including in tropical, temperate and boreal forest regions.

Why forests and livelihoods? Why now?


  • cover ~1/3 of the world’s land area
  • support the livelihoods of ~2 billion people, many of them the world’s poorest
  • +50% of the world’s tropical forests are customarily claimed and managed by Indigenous people
  • fundamental for maintaining terrestrial biodiversity and supporting ecosystem processes

In 2015, two international agreements cemented the role that forests play in the world’s sustainable development. First, forests are embedded in almost all 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed by the member countries of the United Nations – as a poverty reduction strategy (SDG 1), as a means of enhancing food security for more than 300M people (SDG 2), as a source of renewable energy for 2.7B people (SDG 7), as an engine of economic development employing more than 50M people and generating more than $233B in export revenue (SDG 8), and as a means to securing life on land (SDG 15).

Second, the COP 21 Paris Agreement acknowledged that forests are the most important nature-based strategy for climate mitigation and adaptation (SDG 13 – climate action), sequestering as much as 30% of all CO2 emissions. The Paris Agreement reinforces the need to reduce deforestation and degradation, while safeguarding food security and protecting the rights of Indigenous and local peoples. Indigenous peoples and local communities are natural and vested allies in the protection of forests, yet forest communities have been underutilized in protecting and sustaining forests and the ecosystem services that they protect. Put simply, the SDGs cannot be achieved without protecting forests, and forests cannot be adequately protected without engaging and supporting the millions of Indigenous and rural people living near them.

How Forests can help meet the SDGs