Project Fact Sheet

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Project Executing Agency:

Regional office for Asia and the Pacific, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO/RAP)

Economies Directly Benefiting:

Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam

Project Cost:

USD 340,000

APFNet’s Grant:

USD 340,000

Counterpart Contribution and Co-financing:

NA

The goal of the project is to assist forestry agencies in strategic planning and developing means to reduce poverty through sustainable forest management and forest rehabilitation. Specific objectives of the project include: (a) drawing together methods and means by which poverty has been effectively reduced in South and Southeast Asian developing economies;(b) building capacity within forestry agencies and local NGOs through engagement in assessment of past efforts to reduce poverty through forestry;(c) distributing findings to an Asia-Pacific audience and increase awareness of effective means to adapt forest policies to poverty alleviation strategies.

The project was officially launched on March 6, 2010 and completed on December 6, 2011with a duration of 21 months. The main activities include conducting forestry related policy studies on poverty alleviation in 11 economies, organizing regional workshops on strategic planning in forestry and short term training courses on forestry policy, synthesizing key project findings into policy briefs, and distributing policy briefs to policy makers and agencies and organizations influencing policy processes.

The key findings for the project are summarized as follow:

  • Poverty alleviation in national development planning and forest management objectives.
    Forestry policies articulate the recognition of the role of the forestry sector in alleviating poverty, particularly rural poverty. There is a need to investigate further the extent of support and priority placed on poverty alleviation as a forest management objective in relation to other demands on forests and development goals affecting forests. At the same time, it is acknowledged that forestry alone will not solve rural poverty. Forestry-based poverty alleviation strategies should be integrated in rural development programs;
  • Making community forestry work for the poor.
    Forests are the primary resource bases that provide for basic needs and livelihoods of the poor. Tenure and access rights reform in forest lands, with the efforts toward decentralization in forest management, is the main focus of community forestry (CF) programs of governments and other partners to increase access of the poor to forest resources. While the aims, approaches, level of security and the scope of rights differ, CF allows a level of distribution of forest land and resources to the poor and provides opportunities to participate in forest management.
  • Making commercial and industrial forestry work for the poor.
    Direct and indirect benefits for the poor from commercial and industrial forestry are through cash transfers (royalties) to forest owners or affected communities, jobs, infrastructure development, and delivery of basic services, especially in rural areas where these are not met by the governments. However, while large-scale forestry activities earn huge revenues for governments and private companies, the profits rarely reach the poor. The conversion of natural forests into plantations often leads to the permanent loss of sources for non-wood forest products (NWFPs). Mechanized operations in large-scale operations create limited job opportunities and the demand for technical skills precludes the employment of poor community members.
  • Making payments for environmental services and carbon payments work for the poor.
    Some of the economies initiated payment schemes for environmental services related to water supply, hydropower generation, and eco-tourism, are encountering critical challenges. Markets and policy support for environmental services still need to be developed. Questions and concerns regarding REDD+ still remain in relation to appropriate valuation, addressing flawed land use policies, the measurement, reporting, and verification and monitoring, the inclusion of traditional forest uses by indigenous communities, apart from the general question of forest ownership and how the benefits will reach the poor in these forest communities.

In order to increase the contribution of forestry to poverty alleviation in the future, some priorities are also identified from this project for the policy makers of APEC economies to ponder on:

  1. Allocating clear and secure forest tenure and forest management rights to households or communities, which are appropriate to local contexts, to guarantee that the poor will benefit from their efforts and inputs in managing and developing the forests;
  2. Simplifying regulations on harvesting and marketing timber and non-wood forest products;
  3. Building the capacity of people and communities to develop the various skills they need to sustainably manage their forests, develop their livelihoods, and effectively pull themselves out of poverty;
  4. Promoting investments for community-based enterprises and small and medium enterprises;
  5. Ensuring equitable sharing of benefits from forests, particularly for the poorest of the poor and disadvantaged groups, such as women and ethnic minorities;
  6. Strengthening government support, such as through increased budget allocation and staff support, for community forestry;
  7. Integrating community forestry within broader rural development programs.

Related:

Making Forestry Work for the Poor (Publication)