The Plan Vivo Participatory Toolkit has been designed to support project developers and participants when planning and implementing participatory approaches into Plan Vivo projects.

Effective use of participatory approaches helps to ensure local communities and smallholders are fully engaged from the outset and throughout a project's lifetime. 

Participatory engagement of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) is at the heart of the Plan Vivo approach. Research shows that IPLCs are best placed to manage their lands, and Plan Vivo believes that project participants must be in the driving seat throughout the project design and implementation.

Based on recent stakeholder feedback, requesting additional resources on participatory engagement skills, Plan Vivo has developed the Participatory Toolkit for use in Plan Vivo projects 

The Toolkit expands on the previously published Socioeconomic manual, developed by longstanding Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) members, community forestry expert Peter Branney, and project development expert Mike Riddell.

This updated and improved Toolkit provides additional tools and guidance, with an increased focus around key-considerations when working with different marginalised groups, such as women, landless people and Indigenous Peoples. 

The introductory guidance document (containing skills for using participatory approaches, considerations for planning to use the tools with Local Communities, and tools relevant for commonly marginalised groups) is accompanied by the 17 individual tools for use at the different stages of project development and implementation (PIN, PDD, monitoring, verification and Annual Report planning). 

The Toolkit also includes three new tools: 

  • Tool 11B: Assessment and Utilisation of Blue Carbon Ecosystem Products and Areas, developed by Robyn Shilland of the Association for Coastal Ecosystem Services, and Kassim Juma of the Mikoko Pamoja project. Tool 11A outlines this approach for terrestrial forest ecosystems. 

  • Tool 13: Focus Group Discussions, a key technique for engaging with groups of participants throughout project development and implementation. 

  • Tool 17: Which describes participatory techniques for engaging with specific disadvantaged groups, and specific approaches when working with women's groups.

In order to ensure ease and accessibility of use, low-cost, printable versions are available (see print versions). These can be can be used in the field where online access may be unavailable or limited. Each tool also contains a step-by-step guide on how to use it with examples from real projects being given where possible. 
We hope this Toolkit will support project developers and organisations as they continue to ensure that local communities and smallholders are fully engaged from the outset and throughout a project’s lifetime. 
More information, and access to the individual tools can be found below: 


Do you have a resource you would like to see developed? Contact Plan Vivo’s Capacity Development Coordinator at [email protected] 

With thanks to: (Contributors) Peter Branney, Anjali Dalal, Kassim Juma, Michael Riddell, Robyn Shilland, (Graphic design) Sarah Ahmad -The Floating Designer (, (Editing) Caroline Stillman and Diana Wrangham