Smallholder forest producer organizations innovate amidst changing climate, study shows

Photo cover: ©Chandra Kala Thapa13 June 2017, Rome - Smallholder forest producers are playing an important role in mitigating climate change, both through innovative practical action and political efforts via their producer organizations, according to a study presented at this week’s World Farmers’ Organization (WFO) meetings in Helsinki, Finland.

“Smallholder forest producer organizations in a changing climate” highlights the efforts of smallholder producers and organizations. The publication was coordinated by the FAO-hosted Forest and Farm Facility (FFF), which works to support national organizations and networks of smallholders.

“Forest producers are the backbone of rural economies around the world and, supported by their organizations, contribute to action to counter climate change, which hits them especially hard,” said Jeff Campbell, Manager of the FFF, a partnership between FAO, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), and AgriCord.

The world’s 1.5 billion smallholder producers are particularly exposed to the effects of climate change as they are directly dependent on natural resources, are predominantly located in vulnerable tropical regions, and may be restricted in their ability to cope because of social and economic factors, according to the study produced by the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE with the Finnish Agri-Agency for Food and Forest Development (FFD), and FFF.

The study demonstrates that many national organizations and networks of forest producers in tropical developing countries are harnessing their potential to support smallholders in mitigating climate change and adapting to its impacts, while enhancing the resilience of rural livelihoods and ecosystems.

The study, which cites numerous examples of networks and individual producers, shows how efforts by smallholders and their organizations to mitigate and adapt to climate change can also have significant benefits for similar, global work.

It also highlights some of the challenges facing smallholder producer organizations. For example, the increasing severity of climate impacts and the vulnerability of rural populations in developing countries mean that smallholders need support in transforming their livelihoods for climate-smart landscapes.

The study points out the value added by these organizations in expanding the scale of the work and ensuring continuity of climate work, but concludes that these groups and their members need great support in building capacity to continue the work of dealing with climate change while enhancing social and environmental resilience.

FFF is working to increase support to producer organizations from governments, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations. FFF currently works in 10 countries where 30 producer organizations boast 40 million members — and a commensurately huge potential for profound change.

last updated:  Friday, June 16, 2017