Natural resources—land, timber, or minerals—have played a key role in some recent conflicts. For example, illegal logging and "conflict timber" became prominent features of Liberia's civil war. How can development assistance help break the links between conflict and resources? The "Forests & Conflict" toolkit offers:

1) A discussion of the relationship between forests and conflict;
2) Lessons learned in developing programs to address forest and conflict-related issues;
3) Program options;
4) A survey instrument related to forests and conflict; and
5) Relevant USAID mechanisms and contact information for international donors.

The elements of this toolkit are designed to raise awareness of the linkages among timber, forest management, and conflict; and to help mission officers integrate a conflict perspective into their development programming.

The toolkit series published by USAID's Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation (CMM) offers technical assistance in critical focus areas related to conflict, including youth, land, local governance, water, natural resources, livelihoods, human rights, and gender. These "toolkits" explain the connections between the focus area and conflict, and aim to provide USAID missions with access to concrete, practical program options; lessons learned; and information about potential partners, mechanisms, and monitoring and evaluation tools.

ECSP helped write three of the toolkits addressing the linkages between conflict and certain natural resources (minerals, forests, and water), in collaboration with the Center for International Forestry Research in Bogor, Indonesia; Adelphi Research in Berlin, Germany; and, in the case of the minerals paper, the International Institute for Sustainable Development's Geneva office. The initial versions of the toolkits on minerals and forests can be downloaded from USAID's website; the toolkit on water will follow.

By exploring forests in depth, this toolkit serves as a companion piece to conflict assessments. Conflict assessments provide a broad overview of destabilizing patterns and trends in a society. While they provide recommendations about how to make development and humanitarian assistance more responsive to conflict dynamics, they do not provide detailed guidance on how to design specific activities. The toolkits in this series fill that gap by moving from a diagnosis of the problem to a detailed discussion of potential interventions. Together, the assessment framework and toolkits are designed to help USAID Missions gain a deeper understanding of the forces driving violence and assist in developing more strategic and focused interventions.

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