Success stories in forest management
New FAO report on best practices in Asia and the Pacific
9 May 2005, Bangkok - Strengthening property rights, paying attention to people's livelihoods and developing appropriate institutional structures are keys to effective forest management, FAO said today at the launch of the report In search of excellence: exemplary forest management in Asia and the Pacific.
The report provides examples of how people have successfully tackled challenges in managing their forests based on an analysis of 172 forest communities in Asia and the Pacific.
"Instead of dwelling on the failures the report celebrates the many positive forest management efforts in the Asia-Pacific region," says He Changchui, FAO Assistant Director-General for Asia and the Pacific.
Cross cutting success elements, the report finds, are the existence of a management plan, implicit or explicit political support coupled with consensus on forest management objectives, and collaborative efforts.
"The study recognizes that collaborative efforts - where governments, environmentalists, communities and forest industry all work together - are the most constructive," He Changchui said.
Poor institutional structure often hinders development of forest policy and effective management, but these hurdles can be overcome, the study shows. It also points out the establishment of well-defined property rights as an absolute must for achieving sustainable forest management.
The report notes that forest degradation and deforestation usually are the result of overexploitation by people in search of income. In several case studies, expanded livelihood options for forest-dependent people have contributed to sustainable forest management.
One example is from India's Periyar Tiger Reserve, which previously suffered from smugglers whose basic means of livelihood was to illegally strip cinnamon bark from trees in the reserve. The government set up eco-development committees that allowed members to earn legal livelihoods consistent with sound management and protection of the reserve. As a result, today, former poachers and smugglers are working as gamekeepers and tour guides in the reserve and most of the eco-development committees have accumulated cash balances in their accounts while the forest has regenerated dramatically.
Broad target group
The publication addresses foresters, policy makers, planner and anyone interested in the future of forestry in Asia and the Pacific, highlighting forestry management approaches that have proven particularly successful in a wide variety of challenging environments.
"This publication marks a significant step forward in our efforts to bring forestry literature closer to general readers who are less familiar with the technical aspects of forest management, but no less concerned about the fate of the region's forests, natural resources and rural people," said He Changchui.
Information Officer, FAO
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