Forty years of community-based forestry: a review of its extent and effectiveness

  • 23/02/2016
  • FAO

Community-based forestry has shown itself to be a potent vehicle for promoting sustainable forest management, reducing poverty and generating jobs and income for rural communities, but unlocking its true potential will require greater support by governments through policy reforms and other measures. Many community-based forestry regimes are showing great promise as engines for sustainable development but are still performing below their potential, a new FAO report released at the start of Asia-Pacific Forestry Week. Under the approach, local communities partner with governments to play a lead role in making land-use decisions and managing the forestry resources they depend on for their livelihoods. According to "Forty years of community based forestry: A review of extent and effectiveness", almost one-third of the world's forest area is now estimated to be under some form of community-based management. Yet in many cases, while in practice policies may exist for the decentralization and devolution of rights and responsibilities to communities, the right conditions may not yet be in place for them to fully exercise their rights. The report outlines a series of actions needed to make community-based forestry more effective, including providing communities with secure forest tenure, improving regulatory frameworks, and transferring appropriate and viable skills and technology. Access to markets and knowledge of market mechanisms are also essential if communities and smallholders are to commercialize their forest products, which can significantly contribute to poverty reduction.