One of the Millennium Development Goals aims at cutting extreme poverty and hunger worldwide in half by 2015. This declaration has transformed the way development assistance is conducted. In this context, the role of forests and forestry in poverty reduction and food security is gaining currency. In earlier studies and discussions, community forestry or social forestry was proclaimed to have great potential for reducing poverty and food insecurity. Promising as they may be, these apparently have their limits too. So, how can foresters increase the wealth of the forests, and enhance the livelihoods of the communities living in and near them, without compromising the forests integrity and ecological services? The Forests for Poverty Reduction: Opportunities with CDM, Biodiversity and Other Environmental Services workshop, the second in the series on the theme of forestry and poverty alleviation, looks beyond community forestry.
A number of new and interesting initiatives are examined in this volume. The Clean Development Mechanism established under the Kyoto Protocol of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change is beginning to attract global attention. However, most of the opportunities to tap this source are still confined to the better-organized and bigger organizations. It remains an uphill task to bring about the required organization and procedures for the poor to capture this source of funding. Perhaps new and simpler approaches are needed, and should be tested out in the field to make a convincing case in the region.
Likewise, biodiversity wealth still remains largely unconvertible currency. It is indeed a shame that the poor, who are in possession of the greatest storehouse of biodiversity and the knowledge of its utility, are unable to convert these resources into monetary wealth. Fortunately, there is a ray of hope already visible in the case of ecological services. It does not take much convincing to convert provision of drinking water, flood mitigation, and other tangible services into financial payments. Albeit, there are still disputes about the formulae - who should be the recipients and how the payments should be spread.
The Forests for Poverty Reduction: Opportunities with CDM, Biodiversity and Other Environmental Services workshop, which brought together 47 experts from the Asia-Pacific region, focused on improving the contribution of forests to poverty reduction strategies. The theme is highly relevant both to forest sector policy-makers and practitioners in developed and developing countries. A summary of the recommendations of the plenary session are included in these proceedings. We would like to thank the organizers, FAO-FORSPA, APAFRI, Seoul National University, Korea Forest Economics Society and the Northeast Asia Forest Forum for organizing this critical meeting - it will certainly make an impact, and provide the basis for further collaboration on forestry initiatives for poverty reduction in the region.
M.A. Abdul Razak