Forests and poverty reduction
Forestry and national poverty reduction strategies
Between 2006 and 2007 FAO conducted a study in ten countries in Africa on the extent to which national poverty reduction strategies include forestry as an integral part of efforts to address the plight of poor people and, conversely, how forestry engages in discussions across sectors on issues of common concern. Interviews with representatives from government, private business and civil society organizations singled out many of the constraints and opportunities for establishing closer linkages and confirmed that forestry's ties to wider development agendas, including poverty reduction strategies, are often weak or non-existent.Click hereto view detailed reports of study findings by country and Working Paper #22 which summarizes outcomes and conclusions.
Lack of data on forest resources and their significance in terms of improving livelihoods and national economic development is one of the main causes for seriously underestimating their contribution to gross domestic product - a situation which almost always leads decision-makers to overlook the importance of the sector when allocating resources. By assisting with national forest assessments and by conducting studies such as this one, FAO helps to raise the presence and influence of forestry in wider planning instruments as well as to obtain much-needed financial, institutional and policy support for forestry-based poverty reduction.
By making poverty reduction and livelihood improvements key objectives of national forest programmes, collaboration would be strengthened to resolve issues which cut across sectors and directly affect the well-being of poor people and the communities in which they live. Using NFPs to engage forestry in wider discussions would align their activities more closely with core government agendas and thus increase their relevance as instruments to advance country priorities such as rural development and economic growth.
Good governance in forestry is central in the fight against poverty and should be included as an integral component of national forest programmes in much the same way as it is integrated in poverty reduction strategies. Measures that thwart corrupt behaviour include laws which grant secure tenure and access rights, provide for the public disclosure of information on timber harvesting, processing and transportation, and establish participatory processes to detect and prevent illegal forest acts.
Small-scale forest enterprises
FAO helps communities in rural areas to establish forest-based enterprises to provide them an opportunity to earn income from tree and forest resources, thus an incentive to manage and use the resources in a sustainable manner. The approach is built on the premise that people who have a direct stake in tree and forest resources need to be part of decision-making with regard to all aspects of their management.