Rainforest Foundation Norway

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Rainforest Foundation Norway
Rainforest Foundation Norway Logo.png
FounderThe Norwegian Forum for the Environment and Development (ForUM)
Friends of the Earth Norway
The Development Fund
The Future in Our Hands
TypeNon-governmental organization
FocusHuman rights, Environmentalism
Area served
South America, Central Africa, Southeast Asia, Oceania
MethodLobbying, research, field work
Key people
Dag Hareide (Executive Director)
Axel Borchgrevink (Chair of the Board of Directors)
25 million USD(2013)

Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN) is a non-governmental organization (NGO) working to protect the world's rainforests and to secure the legal rights of their inhabitants. It is one of the largest rainforest organizations in the world, and collaborates with around 100 local and national environmental, indigenous and human rights organizations in 13 rainforest countries in the Amazon region, Central Africa, Southeast Asia, and Oceania.[1] The organization works to support people in securing their rights and increase people's level of commitment to rainforest protection; to prevent policy and business interests from contributing to the destruction of the rainforest; and to consolidate policy and practice that serve to protect it.[2] RFN engages in advocacy work in key international processes concerning rainforest issues.

Rainforest Foundation Norway was founded in 1989, and is today one of Europe's leading organizations within the field of rainforest protection.[3] It forms part of the Rainforest Foundation network, with independent sister organizations in the United States and the United Kingdom: the Rainforest Foundation US and the Rainforest Foundation UK.

RFN is a foundation, and its operations are funded by public authorities, as well as private donors, international funds and sponsors.


Rainforest Foundation Norway was founded in 1989, following the formation of the Rainforest Foundation the same year by Sting and his wife Trudie Styler after the leader of the indigenous Kayapo people of Brazil, Chief Raoni, made a personal request to them that they help his community protect its lands and culture.[citation needed] RFN at that time comprised the Norwegian branch of the international Rainforest Foundation network. In 1996, it became an independent foundation, with five Norwegian member organizations. From the organization's inception, the executive director was Lars Løvold, until Dag Hareide took over the role on January 1, 2013.

Approach to rainforest protection[edit]

Rainforest Foundation Norway espouses a rights-based approach to rainforest protection.[4] Its approach is founded on the notion that the peoples who for generations have developed their cultures and societies in balanced interaction with the highly complex yet vulnerable ecosystems of the rainforest have fundamental rights to these areas.[5] In order to attain its goal of implementing rights-based rainforest management in significant rainforest areas in all 12 countries where RFN and its partners are active, RFN supports programs and projects in cooperation with local organizations, indigenous peoples, and traditional populations of the rainforest. It also seeks changes in the policies and practices of governments, intergovernmental bodies, and private enterprises; and to generate and strengthen national and international public awareness and action.[4] In addition, the organization has adopted an approach that emphasizes the strengthening of civil society as an important goal in the countries in which it is active. On this basis, it has prioritized building long-term partnerships with local and national organizations that share its key objectives, as well as supporting the development of representative indigenous associations and community-based organizations.[4]


With its goal of preserving the rainforest, Rainforest Foundation Norway advocates for the rights of its indigenous inhabitants, by providing project-related grants, capacity-building expertise and direct technical assistance to its local partners on the ground, including indigenous communities and grassroots organizations. In addition to working with these groups directly through program activities in local communities, RFN support them indirectly through policy, advocacy, and information activities aimed at securing rights, establishing indigenous territories and protecting the rainforest.[4]

The Amazon[edit]

From its inception, Rainforest Foundation Norway has developed partnerships with a broad network of local organizations throughout the Amazon region, including many indigenous organizations.

RFN's main focus in this region is on indigenous peoples, although other rainforest inhabitants, such as small-scale farmers, are also included.

RFN runs projects together with partners in Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay, Bolivia and Venezuela which have become leading actors with documented results in applying the rights-based approach to rainforest management. The results vary from country to country, but are most evident when it comes to the establishment of indigenous territories and the integrated management of these territories; the strengthening of indigenous organizations; the development of bilingual indigenous education; the consolidation of forest laws and the rights indigenous peoples; and the development of national REDD+ strategies and activities.[6] In various countries throughout the region, including Peru, Paraguay, Venezuela, Bolivia and Brazil, RFN works to protect the right of uncontacted peoples living in voluntary isolation to maintain their traditional way of life and preserve their cultural integrity, which entails protecting the forests they inhabit. It also supports the struggle of indigenous communities against such drivers of deforestation as the exploitation of petroleum resources inside their territories.[1] RFN's work in the Amazon gained considerable momentum in 2007 when the organization received support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for its initiative "Sustainable Management of Amazon Territories Across National Boundaries and Founded on Legal Rights". The main aim of the initiative is to ensure that the Amazon rainforest is managed holistically and in a sustainable way, across national boundaries and with due respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and other forest inhabitants.[7] A key priority in this regard is to facilitate efficient cooperation between agents who can push regional rainforest policy in this direction and who work with similar issues, so as to better secure the integrity of indigenous territories and wider ecosystems.

This kind of collaboration produced the first map showing a complete picture of all the various protected areas, together with deforestation, across all of the Amazon Basin. To achieve this, RFN provided support to the cartography network "the Amazon Network of Geo-referenced Socio-environmental information" (RAISG).[8][9] Through this network, strategic partners from Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Peru, Surinam and Venezuela have exchanged digital geographic information about the Amazon region. In addition, through the lawyer network RAMA, RFN's partners have shared experiences and information in order to advance their efforts to secure the rights of indigenous people in several parts of the Amazon rainforest.

The work on the initiative got under way in 2007, and is taking place over two periods. The first phase of the program ran from 2007 until 2010. A thorough evaluation of the experiences from the first phase was conducted by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2010. The evaluation pointed to "positive results", and emphasized the link between forest protection and indigenous peoples' sustainable use of the rainforest.[10] The second phase of the program runs from 2011-2015.[10]

Central Africa[edit]

Rainforest Foundation Norway has been active in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 2003, working with forest-dependent local communities, both Bantu and Pygmy, as well as environmental and indigenous organizations. Its projects promote the access and rights of forest-dependent peoples to land, and advocate for a sustainable, community-based management of the rainforest. In addition, RFN supports advocacy work by local groups. The work is designed to achieve a policy shift - away from a focus on industrial logging to a policy that combats poverty through sustainable community-based forest management. RFN's projects focus on areas where forest-dependent local peoples are threatened by logging interests, by non-participatory conservation policies and by large-scale development projects.[6] Local groups throughout the DRC, in collaboration with RFN, are supporting forest-dependent communities in mapping their traditional uses of the forest in order to document their traditional rights and strengthen their advocacy work vis-à-vis local authorities.[4] Communities are kept informed of decision-making processes, which are in turn systematically informed by field work and the concerns of forest-dependent peoples. RFN and its partners have also worked to enhance the capacity of Congolese civil society to influence Congolese forest management policies in other ways, such as through input and advocating for local and customary land rights and the principle of 'free, prior and informed consent' (FPIC).[11] In addition to policy work, RFN has also worked with partners on field activities such as participatory mapping and micro-zoning in relation to land use rights[4][11] (see, for instance, http://www.mappingforrights.org/Inongo_Territory), and ensuring the involvement of local communities in the creation of a protected area in the Itombwe Mountains.

Furthermore, through its ongoing REDD project, which got under way in May 2009, RFN and its local partners have sought to influence the REDD process in the DRC by disseminating information at the grassroots level on the opportunities and challenges of REDD - to local communities, small NGOs, and members of government and research institutions.[12]:9–10, 44, 49 RFN has also strengthened the capacity of a large number of Congolese civil society organisations to influence the REDD agenda of the DRC, both at the national and at the international level[12]:44 and has, alongside its partners, succeeded in securing civil society participation in the DRC's National Steering Committee for REDD.[6] As stated by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), "the Rainforest Foundation Norway support to the Civil Society National Climate and REDD working group in DRC has brought full Congolese civil society participation and involvement in developing the national REDD+ strategy and all of its components".[12]:xxi

Southeast Asia and Oceania[edit]

In Southeast Asia, the focus of Rainforest Foundation Norway is on marginalized forest-dwelling ethnic groups. A much larger group of people, often smallholder farmers, also depends on the use of forest resources, and is included in RFN's work in various ways. In Papua New Guinea, the vast majority of the population is indigenous and, living in rural areas, depends more or less directly on forest resources for its sustenance - thus constituting RFN's target group.[6] RFN started working in the region in 1997. It has initiated a range of projects with local organizations in Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, and is in the process of establishing partnerships with local organizations in Burma. Its work in the region focuses on sustainable forest management and securing land rights for forest-based peoples, and its partner organizations maintain close relationships with communities that are at risk of losing their traditional lands and livelihoods due to deforestation (see, for instance, http://www.wrm.org.uy/bulletin/100/Malaysia.html).[6] RFN's strategy for Southeast Asia and Oceania also places particular emphasis on supporting forest peoples' legal action against logging companies, and palm oil and pulp and paper plantations. In addition, the organization assists forest peoples in obtaining exclusive rights to use their traditional lands, and seeks to strengthen the role of forest communities in protecting their forest against destruction by means of capacity building, alternative education and legal training.[6] In both Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, RFN has sought to support community organizations on the basis of traditional governing principles and the introduction of culturally adapted education so as to contribute to the empowerment of forest peoples. Its long-term support for strategically placed organizations has been a central aspect of its strategy for strengthening civil society - as exemplified by its contribution to the formalization of JOAS, the Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia, which acts as an umbrella organization for a large number of community-based organizations and provides them with support and capacity-building expertise.[6] In Indonesia, RFN and its partners have made use of the opportunity presented by the international attention which followed the country becoming a target of many REDD initiatives, including a US$1 billion bilateral agreement between Norway and Indonesia, in order to provide advice, criticism and input in dialogue with the government and in the media. As a result of these political opportunities, RFN has gradually shifted its focus from geographically limited local projects to greater advocacy and policy efforts on the national level - although these two approaches still work in tandem.[6]

Campaigning, advocacy and policy work[edit]

Alongside the primary target group, which is rainforest-based peoples and communities, the secondary target group for Rainforest Foundation Norway is governments at the local, regional, and national levels. All of RFN's projects have provisions for policy work, so that actors at government levels can be influenced to improve existing legal frameworks and practices that affect forest-dependent peoples and rainforest ecosystems.[6] As regards the organization's international policy work, important target groups are national governments, national delegations to relevant international negotiations, international finance institutions, international bodies and institutions dealing with rainforest management, organizations working with the rights of indigenous peoples and forest certification, nature conservation organizations, development organizations, and selected private funds and private actors.[6] On the international arena, a key priority for RFN has been to influence the design and implementation of REDD+, mainly through the UNFCCC negotiations and the UN-REDD program, and the World Bank's REDD+ initiative. RFN, alongside its partners and allies, has sought to influence the development of REDD+ towards a greater emphasis on civil society participation, the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, and the protection of biodiversity.[6] RFN and its partners have also increasingly employed international human rights instruments as a means of focusing attention on forest-dependent peoples, and of improving their situation. The organization's impact on the international arena has, in addition, been manifested in its pioneering of an approach to rainforest preservation which focuses on large geographical areas, including a trans-border perspective, for more robust protection.[4] RFN's policy and information work in Norway targets the political leadership, members of parliament, political parties, and government institutions. The aim is to ensure that protection of natural forests, biodiversity and human rights, including the rights of forest-dependent communities, are top priorities, not only rhetorically but also in fact and in funding. Indeed, as stated by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), "RFN has played an active role in influencing [Norwegian] government policies and priorities on both [the environment and natural resources and indigenous peoples] as recognised by Norad".[4] The Norwegian government's international climate and forest initiative is a key target for RFN's advocacy work in Norway, since Norway has taken a leading role in worldwide rainforest protection.[13] This work also has broader significance, as it affects the development of national REDD+ policies and instruments, as well as national REDD+ policies in RFN's project countries.

RFN's campaigning, advocacy and information activities are also designed to ensure that other major Norwegian actors (such as the Government Pension Fund Global) espouse policies that are consistent with rainforest protection,[13] and to promote awareness among Norwegian businesses and the public of the impacts of their investments, activities, and consumption patterns on the rainforest and its peoples.

Notable campaigns[edit]

The Amazon[edit]

  • 1991: Following two and a half years of campaign work, the Rainforest Foundation's initial project succeeded in coordinating the first ever privately funded demarcation of indigenous land in the Amazon region. 17 000 square miles of traditional land, the Menkragnoti Indigenous Territory in Pará state in Brazil, next to Xingu National Park, was demarcated, and then legally titled to the Kayapo people by the Brazilian government in 1992. Rainforest Foundation Norway provided 25% of the finances for the campaign.[14] According to the Norwegian Agency for Development Coordination, "the demarcation and the putting in place of a boundary control and supervision by the Indian organization itself (but financed by RFN), has stabilized the threat and pressure on the boundaries and stopped incursions and deforestation in those border areas. Thus, effective protection of this area of some 50 000 square km of tropical forest has been assured".[4]
  • 2013: Rainforest Foundation Norway is the main actor in the protection, by means of eight control posts, of a 23 000 square mile contiguous territory for indigenous people living in voluntary isolation in Peru. RFN has worked together with, and provided financial assistance to, the indigenous movement that has, through legal work, advocacy, research, and long-term field operations, attempted to secure the lives and territories of their 'uncontacted brothers and sisters'. The manned posts stop loggers and gold diggers who illegally attempt to enter the territory of the uncontacted indigenous people.[14]

Central Africa[edit]

  • 2007: The World Bank's Inspection Panel investigated the practices of the World Bank in the rainforest in the Democratic Republic of Congo following a request from indigenous groups working in partnership with RFN and the Rainforest Foundation UK.[4] The Panel highlighted a series of failures on the part of the Bank to comply with its own internal environmental and social policies and safeguards, to recognize the importance of the forests for the subsistence and sustainable development of the people who live in and depend on them, and to promote truly sustainable approaches to forest management. The Panel concluded that the World Bank's bias in favor of industrial logging impoverished local people, and that the Bank should rethink its approach to forest management and develop a policy based on true participation of forest-based peoples, with the aim of securing their traditional rights and promoting alternatives to industrial logging. The Inspection Panel's investigation of the allegedly unsustainable forest policies of the World Bank garnered significant international attention, with the Norwegian Agency for Development Coordination subsequently stating that "it can [...] truly be said that RFN and its partners [have] turned around the entire forest and indigenous policies of this huge African country".[4]

Southeast Asia and Oceania[edit]

  • 2000: In Indonesia, the semi-nomadic Orang Rimba people of Sumatra had their traditional lands demarcated and were granted exclusive use of the area. RFN collaborated with its local partner organization WARSI to create the 230 square mile Bukit Duabelas National Park, later securing users' rights for indigenous peoples in and around the park.[4] For the first time in Indonesia, an indigenous group was allowed to continue its traditional cultivation and hunting and gathering activities within the boundaries of a national park. RFN and WARSI started working with the Orang Rimba in 1998, with the aim of protecting their remaining forest areas.[14]
  • 2003: In Papua New Guinea, the controversial Kiunga-Aiambak project, a logging operation disguised as a road project,[15][16] was halted. This followed years of advocacy work by CELCOR, RFN's local partner organization, with significant financial support from RFN. The halting of the project marked an important victory for local communities and was a signal to loggers that they will be prosecuted if they do not abide by the strict logging code of the country. Subsequently, in 2011, the logging company involved in the Kiunga-Aiambak project, the Malaysian company Concord Pacific, was sentenced to pay more than US$90 million in damages to local communities who had seen their livelihoods destroyed - the first time a logging company had been sentenced to pay compensation for damage done to the rainforest in Papua New Guinea.[17]

Campaigning, advocacy and policy work[edit]

  • 2007: Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg announced at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali that Norway would grant US$500 million annually for rainforest protection in order to halt climate change. Rainforest Foundation Norway and Friends of the Earth Norway proposed the measure to the Norwegian government.[18][19]
  • 2012: RFN launched a campaign with two aims: to reduce the Norwegian consumption of palm oil and to expose the link between deforestation and the production of palm oil.[20] The campaign, which was developed in collaboration with the organization Green Living, targeted all major food producers in Norway. Producers were asked to disclose details about their use of palm oil, and whether the palm oil was sourced from sustainable points of origin. Norwegian law obliges companies to disclose such information if it can be deemed to be of significance for purposes of environmental protection.[21] The data accruing from the investigation were published in a "palm oil guide", a unique web-based tool by means of which consumers are able to check the occurrence of palm oil in food products manufactured in Norway. Previously, this information was not available to consumers, and the use of palm oil was concealed as "vegetable oil" or "vegetable fat".[22] The campaign received extensive media coverage, resulting in increased consumer awareness. Norwegian food producers responded rapidly, significantly reducing their consumption of palm oil.[20] By the end of 2012, eight major food producers had cut their use of palm oil by some 9600 tons, signifying a two-thirds reduction in Norway's total consumption.[23] The campaign attracted international attention, as no other country had succeeded in reducing the national consumption of palm oil to a similar degree.


RFN's finances are to a significant degree based on multiyear contracts with Norwegian public authorities regarding long-term financial assistance. The organization derives additional funding from individuals and bequests (including from regular private donors designated "Rainforest Guardians"); contributions from members of the business community such as Nordic Choice Hotels; and international funds and foundations such as the Ford Foundation and the Rainforest Foundation Fund.[2] Of the total resources expended in 2012, 86.9% were spent on programs on the ground.[2]


From its inception in 1989 until 1996, RFN made up the Norwegian branch of the international Rainforest Foundation network, after which it became an independent foundation, with five Norwegian member organizations: Friends of the Earth Norway, Young Friends of the Earth Norway, Children's Friends of the Earth Norway, the Development Fund, and the Future in Our Hands. Lars Løvold held the role of executive director from the organization's inception until Dag Hareide took over the role on January 1, 2013.


Rainforest Foundation Norway produces a quarterly newsletter and publishes news updates on its website, as well as maintaining an active presence on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The organization also publishes reports, fact sheets and other documents on issues related to its work.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "About Rainforest Foundation Norway". Rainforest Foundation Norway. Retrieved 2017-05-03. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "About Rainforest Foundation Norway" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  2. ^ a b c "Annual Report for 2012". Rainforest Foundation Norway. Retrieved 2017-05-03. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Rainforest Foundation Norway Annual Report for 2012" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Rainforest Foundation Norway Annual Report for 2012" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  3. ^ "The Norwegian Committee for Fundraising in Norway". Retrieved 2013-08-07.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Organizational Performance Review of Rainforest Foundation Norway". The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
  5. ^ "Saving the rainforest: Why human rights is the key". Just Conservation. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "10-year Strategy". Rainforest Foundation Norway. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
  7. ^ "MFA finances new major initiative in the Amazon". Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 2013-08-28.
  8. ^ "Amazonia under pressure" (PDF). RAISG. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
  9. ^ "Half of the Amazon is Facing Disappearance". Alianza Arkana. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
  10. ^ a b "Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Prop. 1 S (2012-2013), Draft Resolution to the Storting" (PDF): 141. Retrieved 2013-08-28.
  11. ^ a b "Zoning and Land Use Allocation in the Democratic Republic of Congo". Rainforest Foundation Norway. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
  12. ^ a b c "Real-Time Evaluation of Norway's International Climate and Forest Initiative, Contributions to National REDD+ Processes 2007-2010" (PDF). 14 (Country Report: Democratic Republic of Congo, Evaluation Report). March 2011. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
  13. ^ a b Barnett, Kelli. "Norway's Pension Fund Vows To Purge Holdings That Drive Deforestation". Ecosystem Marketplace. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
  14. ^ a b c "Victories of Rainforest Foundation Norway (Norwegian)". Rainforest Foundation Norway. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
  15. ^ "Partners in Crime: Malaysian loggers, timber markets and the politics of self-interest in Papua New Guinea" (PDF). Greenpeace International. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
  16. ^ "Forest exploitation goes on". Post-Courier. February 24, 2003. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
  17. ^ "Logging company sentenced to pay NOK 540 million (Norwegian)". Rainforest Foundation Norway. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
  18. ^ Tollefson, Jeff (August 19, 2009). "Paying to save the rainforests". Nature. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
  19. ^ "Norway pledges billions for rainforest conservation". Xinhua News Agency. December 9, 2007. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
  20. ^ a b "Norway decreases Palm Oil Consumption with 64% in one year". Tomorrow is Greener. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
  21. ^ "Act of 9 May 2003 No.31 Relating to the Right to Environmental Information and Public Participation in Decision-making Processes Relating to the Environment". Government of Norway. Retrieved 2013-08-28.
  22. ^ "Norway Reduces 2/3 of Palm Oil Consumption". Eco Green Globe. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
  23. ^ "Norway Cuts Palm Oil Use by 64%, Helps Rainforests". The 9 Billion. Retrieved 2017-05-03.

External links[edit]