Policy expertise

Public spending in the forestry sector: Lessons from global good practice

Policy Area
World Bank
OPM contact

By supporting effective public expenditure practices, this project has contributed to improved management of the forestry sector in a number of countries. Public expenditure allocation to the forestry sector is important in maximising development outcomes arising from the generation of incomes and employment and conserving the variety of local and global public goods generated by the sector. We were contracted by the World Bank to undertake a study of public expenditure issues relating to forestry and develop a set of best practice principles based on lessons learnt both in the sector and more widely. Work focused around extensive literature and documentation reviews of public expenditure analyses in both the forestry and non-forestry sectors as well as efforts to establish the effectiveness and efficiency of public spending. This evidence base was used to develop guiding principles for a best practice approach to public expenditure analysis, supporting better development outcomes in the sector.

In many developing countries, the forestry sector is characterised by severe underfunding resulting in inadequate resources and a lack of capacity. Forest agency staff are often poorly paid, with weak incentives to act responsibly leading to widespread corruption and illegal practices.

The management of public expenditure in the sector is a critical factor in addressing these issues and achieving wider development objectives. Effective public expenditure management can help maximise development outcomes, enhance rural livelihoods, conserve local and global public goods generated by the sector and promote private investment in the sector.

This project was established to assess public expenditure in the forestry sector and build an evidence base that will support the establishment of mechanisms to allocate and use available public resources in a way that promotes economic growth and reduces poverty.


We conducted an extensive review of public expenditure analyses in the forestry sector to establish a dataset of global examples and lessons learnt. The review also covered efforts to establish the effectiveness and efficiency of public spending. We also undertook an examination of public expenditure analyses within other sectors to support the development of a compendium of transferable good practice examples that are applicable to the forestry sector.

Drawing upon this knowledge, we prepared a Guidance Note, including a set of principles, articulating a best practice approach to public expenditure analysis for the forestry sector.

Specific areas of work included:

  • Conducting extensive literature reviews including assessments of existing Public Expenditure Reviews that included reference to the forestry sector and those from other sectors
  • Developing a compendium of tools for establishing the effectiveness or efficiency of public spending, drawing on Public Expenditure Tracking Surveys, Service Delivery Surveys, and other tools
  • Preparing a Guidance Note for carrying out forestry sector expenditure reviews
  • Delivering a formal presentation and workshop to present findings to key stakeholders including World Bank staff


By improving understanding of the quantity and quality of public expenditure in the forestry sector, this study has provided a model for global best practice. As a result, our work has supported the implementation of improved management practices in a number of World Bank supported-countries.

Over the longer-term, strengthened management practices will support the more effective and transparent allocation of public resources, contributing to better forestry sector development outcomes for a greater number of people across the world.

The main study report can be found under 'Publications'.


Portfolio Manager, Climate Change
Director, Governance