Governments and businesses must give local people more control over forests to maximise social, economic and environmental benefits, says a new book by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the G3 — a global network whose members manage a quarter of the world’s forests.
The book, to be launched at IIED’s Fair ideas conference in Rio de Janeiro on 17 June, makes the business case for investing in forest communities by showing that when local people control their forests they are more likely to conserve and use them sustainably.
“Community forestry turned Nepal’s forests from barren wastelands into the green and productive areas that they are today”, said Ghan Shyam Pandey, coordinator of the Global Alliance of Community Forestry.
In 2009, the Global Alliance of Community Forestry joined forces with the International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forest and the International Family Forestry Alliance to create the G3 – or Three Rights Holders’ Group, a global network of family, community and Indigenous foresters.
Despite the proven track record of locally controlled forestry and constant reports of social conflict between local communities and big companies over forests across the world, money continues to flow into the bigger international corporations rather than into support for locally-controlled forestry.
The new book urges governments and investors to approach business from a different angle in order to reap a wider range of benefits and on a long-term basis.
“Instead of being led by resources, investment models for locally controlled forestry must be led by rights, based on right-holders managing forest resources and seeking capital and partnerships“, says Duncan Macqueen, Forest Team leader at IIED. “We cannot afford to ignore practical and fair solutions such as locally controlled forestry when the stakes are so high and the benefits so clear”
Forests provide livelihoods and subsistence to 1.6 billion people worldwide. Millions more people who live nowhere near forests rely on their products throughout their daily lives. Yet pressure on the world’s forests is increasing.
Since 1990, the area of old-growth forests has decreased by 300 million hectares — an area larger than Argentina. Deforestation could account for the loss of as many as 100 species a day. And it is a major source of the carbon emissions that are driving climate change.
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