When local people become equal partners in the benefits and responsibilities of sustainable forest management many opportunities open up for them. Reliable access to forest resources means they can increase their cash income and engage in developing sustainable enterprises. What’s more, there is a clear incentive to better manage their lands to ensure the sustainability of the forest resources.
The leading international organizations working to protect and manage the world’s forests are calling for governments across the globe to increase communities’ role in forest management. Doing so could contribute to lifting close to a billion people out of poverty as well as improve the health and vitality of forests. People who live in or adjacent to forests are highly dependent on them for their food, fuel and medicines, are most often not those who control the decisions on how these resources are used and managed. Strengthening the community rights over their own forests reduce poverty and also benefits forest biodiversity.
A total of 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods. About 1.4 billion of these people live in the developing world, and 1 billion live in extreme poverty. Recently-released data by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Global Partnership for Forest Landscape Restoration show that approximately 1.2 billion hectares of deforested or degraded areas could be restored through better, locally-controlled management.
The Collaborative Partnership of Forests (CPF) has seen again and again that by increasing local people’s ownership in the management of forest resources, communities are frequently in a better position to start forest product-based business, from which they can derive incomes. The current international efforts to develop mechanisms for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) and enhancing forest carbon stocks in developing countries represent new possibilities for local communities to benefit from sustainable management and conservation of forests.
It is therefore evident that unless considerable progress is made in securing the rights of local people to access, manage and benefit from forests, it is unlikely that deforestation and illegal logging will be curbed.
Source: Science Africa Vol. 16 (June-July 2011 Issue)