An ever-increasing human population drives an increasing demand for many different wood products, which can effectively be met through plantations. Although this has been recognized for over a century, progress in getting large areas into production has been far slower than projected. There are many reasons for the shortfall in plantation production, including a general lack of effort in actively engaging communities in plantations in a way that benefits small-scale producers, the wood products industry and ultimately the consumers of wood products.
An important means of expanding plantation production and benefiting small-scale producers is through corporate smallholder partnerships that establish agreements for industries to purchase wood produced by other parties, including but not limited to smallholders. While there are examples of successful corporate smallholder partnerships in the tropics, many attempts have been only partially successful or have failed entirely in producing significant quantities of wood in ways that benefit both producer and processor.
Those who have been involved over the last 100 years in trying to find ways to use forest resources more effectively for economic development have often encountered the reality of marketing constraints - either the lack of adequate markets or the presence of markets that do not allow small producers to benefit. For corporate-smallholder partnerships to provide both economic development opportunities and raw material for forest industries, renewed effort must be placed on understanding what makes them successful and what constrains their use.
In May 2002, FAO and CIFOR cosponsored a workshop in Bogor, Indonesia that is a small step in the direction of achieving that understanding. The workshop, and subsequent synthesis described in this document, attempted to bring together the perspectives of the private sector, government, non-governmental organizations and research institutions who are actively working on this important topic. The results of this workshop will certainly help in the identification and formulation of ways forward in equitable and environmentally sustainable planted forest management. The outputs speak for themselves, but it is clear that more needs to be done with regard to corporate smallholder partnerships if forestry development is truly to meet the multiple objectives of poverty alleviation and the production of fibre for expanding markets.
The UNFF Intersessional Experts Meeting on the Role of Planted Forests in Sustainable Forest Management, 25-27 March 2003, in Wellington, New Zealand noted a sharp increase in the global area of planted forest cover the last decade. Recent FAO statistics indicate that 5 percent of total forest cover is of this forest type, providing 35 percent of the world's wood supply. Promoting the multifaceted role of planted forests can significantly contribute to sustainable forest management. The same meeting, however, concluded that a coherent and stable policy environment was essential in promoting sustainable planted forest development. Effective stakeholder involvement in decision-making related to forest planning and implementation was also recognized as a key element of policy. The meeting also noted that society expectations of planted forests, and hence the principal objectives, change over time, and emphasized the need for adaptive management systems that are able to respond to changing social, environmental, economic and cultural expectations. The meeting recognized that small-scale growers are playing an increasingly important role in the establishment and management of planted forests, both in partnerships with other actors and independently. Enhancing the contribution of planted forests to the livelihoods of small-scale growers, by addressing constraints and facilitating support mechanisms has the potential to increase substantially levels of local interest in and support for planted forests.
The text of this UNFF Intersessional Experts Meeting further reiterates the relevance of the experiences collected in this document. We hope that the readers of this document will work with those represented at the Bogor workshop and others to take up the important lessons and challenges noted by the workshop participants.