The Global Forest Watch - Small Grants Fund

Document Summary: 

Organizational profile: 
Global Forest Watch (GFW) is a free forest monitoring system that provides timely and actionable information to support the sustainable management and conservation of forest landscapes. Since its launch in 2015, more than 3 million users have visited the GFW website from every country in the world. GFW has been used by civil society organizations, journalists, communities, governments and companies around the world to see where, when and why deforestation is happening and take action to address it. GFW is made possible by a growing partnership of over 200 organizations, convened by the World Resources Institute.
GFW Small Grants Fund (SGF) seeks to build the capacity of civil society organizations to effectively use GFW tools and data. Successful projects translate data into action, applying GFW to overcome challenges in protecting the world’s forests. In 2021, the Small Grants Fund solicited applications based on three themes:
1.    Forest Protection: Rapid response to deforestation using early warning systems to identify, verify, investigate, and act upon satellite-based alerts for improved forest management, law enforcement and advocacy. The Global Land and Discovery (GLAD) deforestation alerts are the primary focus, though other alerting systems available through GFW may be used as well, including NASA’s VIIRs active fire alerts and Wageningen University’s radar-based RADD alerts (coming in early 2021 for select countries). Examples:

  • Build the capacity of indigenous or local communities and/or law enforcement agencies to utilize alert systems accessed through GFW tools to monitor, verify and respond to forest threats within community lands or protected areas.
  • Publish stories and data visualizations highlighting where illegal deforestation is occurring and how it impacts local livelihoods or ecosystems in order to raise public awareness and put pressure on authorities to respond

2.    Forests and Agriculture: Support deforestation-free supply chains by using GFW tools to monitor and manage the boundaries of commodity-producing areas. Examples:

  • A civil society organization trains a collective of smallholder farmers or production companies to monitor and manage their areas.
  • Utilizing data on GFW to create a dashboard of forest, land use and carbon data to guide sustainable farm management land-use decisions.
  • Mapping and monitoring high conservation value or high carbon stock forests within agricultural and forestry production landscapes using GFW Pro.

3.    Forest Policy: Monitor compliance with global sustainability platforms, certification standards, and/or national and international environmental commitments related to forests. Examples:

  • Using GFW to identify and establish areas or jurisdictions as REDD+ or other payment for ecosystem services projects, and monitor compliance.
  • Obtaining commitments from banks and financial institutions in a particular country to adopt zero deforestation policies as a prerequisite to landowners for accessing credit.
  • Using GFW data to analyze deforestation trends and highlight deforestation hotspots in a particular country and create an advocacy campaign to encourage government compliance with a country’s Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement related to land-use change. 

Financing Instrument: Grants
Project scale: The Small Grants Fund awards organizations between $10,000 and $40,000 USD.
Recipient countries regions/country groups: Global
Recipient categories: NGOs
Eligibility Criteria: 
A.    Organizational Eligibility
•    Be legally constituted as non-profit and non-governmental;
•    Have a total annual budget greater than $50,000 USD;
•    Possess a computerized financial system for tracking and recording expenses (preferably a professional accounting software);
•    Be able to complete an organizational assessment document (containing questions regarding organization governance, financial and compliance structure) in English.
•    Be able to provide the organization’s most recent annual audit. If the applicant does not have an audit, they must provide ALL three of the following documents:

  1. a Balance sheet for the most current and previous year;
  2. an Income Statement for the most current and previous year;
  3. a Cash Flow Statement for the most current and previous year

•    Receive a rating of medium to low risk on WRI’s organizational assessment, which will be carried out once finalists are provisionally selected.
•    At least one project point person with professional working proficiency in English (oral and written), in order to be able to submit narrative and financial progress reports and communicate regularly with WRI staff.
NOTE: Most grant recipients will be required to undergo a grant-specific audit at the end of the project. GFW will cover the cost of this audit up to a pre-determined amount.

B.    Project Eligibility
•    SGF seeks applications for projects that clearly demonstrate how they will use the tools and data on GFW to achieve one of the three key objectives - Forest Protection, Forests and Agriculture, and Forest Policy. Applicants are also strongly encouraged to use additional data on GFW or from other sources as relevant related to land cover, land use, carbon emissions, and forest change.
•    Applications should clearly articulate who the project aims to influence and how project activities will lead to improved responses to deforestation. Projects may employ one or more of the following approaches to influencing these actors:

  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Advocacy
  • Forest monitoring and enforcement
  • Storytelling/journalism

•    Successful projects will be those that have a demonstrated commitment to forest monitoring, sustainable forest management and/or forest policy and can articulate how the addition of the tools and data on GFW will provide a value add to their existing work. They will also be able to convey which stakeholders are critical for their projects’ success and describe the nature of existing relationships with those stakeholders or outline a clear plan for establishing any new relationships with project stakeholders.
•    The selection committee will also be looking for projects that are feasible while also likely to attain a meaningful result or results leading to decreased deforestation. Examples of past outcomes from successful projects include:

  • A conservation organization collaborates with park rangers to patrol a protected area and collect data using GLAD alerts accessed through the Forest Watcher mobile app. They identify an illegal logging camp within the reserve, document their findings, and the perpetrators are fined.
  • An indigenous community uses GLAD alerts to identify the location of an illegal mining site, and document further evidence of the site by taking aerial photos with a drone. They compile the data, maps and photos and submit a formal complaint to local authorities, who then shut down the site.
  • An organization creates a database combining VIIRS active fire alerts with concessions data for companies and financial institutions operating in the forest-risk sector. They use the database to reveal which financiers support companies that hold concessions where forest fires occur. As a result, banks adopt strict “no fire” policies for relevant sectors, including palm oil, pulp and paper.


C.    Geographic Eligibility:
•    Generally, GFW looked for projects that would be carried out in one or more of the countries: Argentina, Cameroon, Cambodia, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Colombia, Ghana, Malaysia, Ecuador, Madagascar, Vietnam, Mexico, Republic of the Congo, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname.
•    The applicant organization may be registered in a country outside of those on this list if their project focuses on geographic areas within one or more of these countries.
Application guidelines: 
•    To apply, please visit the Grants and Fellowship page on the GFW website and click on “Apply Now.” This link will direct the applicant to the online application via Survey Monkey Apply. Once the applicant has started their application, they may save and return to it anytime. Applications will only be accepted through the online application platform. Please note, all applications must be completed in English.
•    The application contains two sections: organizational information and project information. The applicant will also be required to upload a project budget and project logframe using templates that will be provided to the applicant via the application software. Letters of support from project partners or previous funders are welcome, but optional.
•    Each section should be completed in its entirety. Please include a detailed justification of each budget line item in the “Budget Detail” column in the provided template. While there are no explicit ceilings for any individual budget line, General and Administrative costs should be limited to ten per cent or less of the applicant’s direct costs. If the applicant has any difficulty responding to a question, please contact for guidance. 

Publication Date
Saturday, 26 March 2022
Applicable location
Forest conservation and management
Financing policies and mechanisms
Financing opportunities