December 30, 2011

Community managed forests a long term solution

Lessons from rainforest case studies demonstrate sustainable community forests work well for the longer term

Real life examples from rainforest regions of Brazil, Mexico and Bolivia suggest that Community Forest Management (CFM) initiatives could be integrated into longer term avoided deforestation or forest improvement mechanisms.  As well as succeeding with forest conservation it can also help to ensure equitable and efficient governance models and benefit sharing mechanisms while at the same time achieving development and conservation objectives at a low cost.

Community-managed forests in Latin America can offer some valuable lessons for the implementation of REDD+ (a UN Programme for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) is a strong message from the report.  It goes on to discuss achieving a ‘post-REDD+ landscape’ i.e. common property community management that that has produced stable or expanding forest cover and sustainable forest-based livelihoods, according to David Bray, one of the authors of this new report and Professor of Earth & Environment at Florida International University (USA).

“CFM is one proven strategy where collective action by local people can move beyond deforestation or degradation and achieve sustainable forest management.”

“There is growing evidence that some types of local forest management have slowed deforestation and achieved more equitable outcomes in the distribution of forest incomes”, said Bray.

“In the Mexican state of Oaxaca, for example, communities are now working on the commercial production of timber whilst conserving their forests and obtaining economic benefits from ecotourism, water-bottling and more recently, hydrological services.”

The report more than hints that REDD+  should integrate multi-level governance institutions such as government authorities, local community governance regimes e.g. customary land use rights, and civil society in order to represent the interests and needs of people at the local level.

The equitable distribution of economic benefits generated by REDD+ programs will largely depend on strong governance.  It is vital for project planners be attentive to the need to build from the bottom up, if possible using customary patterns of organization,” explained Peter Cronkleton, senior CIFOR scientist and report co-author. “Established CFM institutions could provide the key local governance mechanisms that will be crucial if REDD+ functions on the ground.”


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