People at the centre of forest policies – to be strengthened (ref. FAO)

FAO Forest

On June 23rd, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation released its new publication on the State of the World’s Forests, covering 121 countries’ policies. The publication emphasises on the importance to put people at the centre of forest policies. Nowadays, national policies rarely fully recognize the vital role of forests in providing local communities with food, energy and shelter.

Changes in forest management since 2007 show the key following facts be they findings or recommendations:

1) Poverty reduction: Promoting forest goods and services is seen as a key to improving rural livelihoods, with a focus on non-wood forest products rather than timber.

2) Improving access to forest resources and markets: Capacities of producer organisations should be strengthened to improve production and access to markets.

3) Creating, enabling environment to encourage investment: Support to local and indigenous community investment needs to be strengthened.

4) Voluntary instruments to ensure sustainable forest management and curb illegal trade: The role and accountability of the private sector is crucial in strengthening sustainable forest management.

5) Efficient production and processing of forest products, waste reduction and recycling: A minority refer to waste reduction or recycling, mostly in Europe and Africa.

6) Benefits deriving from traditional forest-related knowledge and practices: Countries need to further develop revenue and benefit-sharing mechanisms in partnership with local communities.

7) Recognising the range of values and benefits provided by forests: Payments for ecosystem services are receiving increasing attention, particularly in Latin America.

Read more here the Policy facts and figures summary.

As you can see in my summary and in the official report, biodiversity use is at the centre of forest management as well. We are not only talking about timber products but the publication shows as well the importance of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) in the communities’ economy and livelihood. Strengthening the countries’ forest policies recognition of people and their traditional uses and knowledge of forest is an important step to support the sustainable use of biodiversity while respecting the equitable share of the derived benefits. Another important aspect that these facts shown is the growing importance of private sector’s role in good forest management using or not sustainable standards as basis for good practices.