What is the evidence for the contribution of forests to poverty alleviation? A systematic map protocol
Background: Forests provide an essential resource that support the livelihoods of an estimated 20% of the global population. Forests are thought to serve in three primary roles to support livelihoods: subsistence, safety nets, and pathways to prosperity. While we have a working understanding of how poor people depend on forests in individual sites and countries, much of this evidence is dispersed and not easily accessible. Thus, while the importance of forest ecosystems and resources to contribute to poverty alleviation has been increasingly emphasized in international policies, conservation and development initiatives and investments- the strength of evidence to support how forests can affect poverty outcomes is still unclear. This study takes a systematic mapping approach to scope, identify and describe studies that measure the effect of forest-based activities on poverty outcomes at local and regional scales. This effort builds upon an existing systematic map on linkages between conservation and human well-being in order to make this process more efficient. We will conduct a refined and updated search strategy pertinent to forests-poverty linkages to glean additional evidence from studies outside the scope of the original map. Results of this study can be used for informing conservation and development policy and practices in global forest ecosystems and highlight evidence gaps where future primary studies and systematic reviews can add value. Methods: We build upon the search strategy outlined in McKinnon et al. (Environ Evid 1-25, 2016) and expand our search to cover a total of 7 bibliographic databases, 15 organizational websites, 8 existing systematic reviews and maps, and evidence gap maps, and solicit key informants. All searches will be conducted in English and encompass all nations. Search results will be screened at title, abstract, and full text levels, recording both the number of excluded articles and reasons for exclusion. Full text assessment will be conducted on all included article and extracted data will be reported in a narrative review that will summarize trends in the evidence, report any knowledge gaps and gluts, and provide insight for policy, practice and future research. The data from this systematic map will be made available as well, through an open access, searchable data portal and visualization tool.