Community Forest Monitors Embrace Gender Equity in Tanzania and Uganda


Deforestation is a major threat that is driving both the climate crisis and biodiversity loss. It also threatens millions of people who depend upon vital natural resources and ecosystem services. As the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) works to ensure a sustainable and equitable future for our planet and all life on it, we are focusing on nature-based greenhouse gas mitigation and locally-led ecological restoration/reforestation efforts, proactive advocacy, preventative programs, and adaptive strategies for ecosystems.

Just one piece of this strategy is our Village Forest Monitor program. Through this program, locally-elected village forest monitors (VFMs) in Western Tanzania are trained by JGI Tanzania staff to patrol village forest reserves in order to observe biodiversity and alert village and government leaders about evolving threats. When monitoring began in 2018, there were just 56 VFMs—all of them men. As Gender Equity and Social Inclusion (GESI) is a key aspect of JGI’s Landscape Conservation in Western Tanzania (LCWT) project, concerted investment has been made over the last several years to increase participation from women in monitoring roles.

Hope-Filled Stats

1M native trees

To be planted globally through a powerful partnership between JGI and the Arbor Day Foundation funded by HP.

162 village forest monitors

Working in Western Tanzania to observe biodiversity and alert village and government leaders about evolving threats.

30% of VFMs

In Uganda are women—a small but growing number!

Today, there are 162 VFMs in Western Tanzania, six of which are women. Although the number may seem small, it represents a significant step in participating communities, and an emerging trend of women seeking key roles. These women are actively engaged in protecting their natural resources sustainably and improving their livelihoods through community-led natural resource management. In Uganda, approximately 30% of VFMs are women—a trend we seek to grow across all program areas. When there are advances in gender equity, everyone benefits.

Through JGI’s Tacare approach to community-led conservation, our teams are working with communities to find creative solutions to the problems they face, and create opportunities for sustainable, equitable development without jeopardizing important resources like native forests. Learn more and support our programs at

About Author

Ashley Sullivan is the Director of Storytelling & Marketing for Communications & Partnerships at the Jane Goodall Institute USA, where she works to connect individuals with Dr. Jane Goodall's vision, and the JGI mission to create a better world for all by protecting the interconnections between people, other animals, and the environment. Ashley graduated Stony Brook University with a Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology and a minor in Biology, and is pursuing a Master's of Science in Environmental Science & Policy at Johns Hopkins University with a focus on Environmental Justice. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, now a D.C. resident, she has a varied background including 10+ years of expert communications and digital marketing in the social and environmental non-profit sector. Her intersectional approach to this work has been shaped by a holistic world-view, having traveled to Madagascar and Ecuador for conservation research projects, leading communications for youth social justice filmmaking organizations, and as a part of several professional groups advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in environmental spaces including Greens REALIGN. With skills ranging from conservation fieldwork, policy and advocacy campaigns, strategic communications, art, digital media, and design, Ashley believes in sharing information to empower and in the magic of storytelling to transform hearts and minds. Through growing understanding, empathy, and justice, she is igniting positive change to create that better, more equitable world, every day.