Poverty reduction and forestry

Farm woman carrying heavy headload of fuelwood (FAO Mediabase)

Subject overview

Leading donors and many governments are today prioritising development activities on the basis of their poverty reduction potential. National forest programmes should therefore be expected to fit within the objectives of national poverty reduction strategies and to clearly address poverty issues. In order to be informed, planning needs to take account of the available knowledge on the relationship between forests and poverty.

Subject scope

In order to stress the significance of forests in poverty issues, researchers have tried to establish the number and distribution of forest dependant poor (e.g. UNEP/WCMC) and then looked at the value of forest products in local economies whether or not this value is formally expressed (e.g. ODI). Further work has looked at the potential of new types of markets for forest products and services to provide income for the rural poor (e.g. IIED, ODI).

Although poverty alleviation and forest conservation can be conflicting objectives, most environmental and forestry agencies have seen the optimal outcome as one where both forest cover is preserved and the income of forest dwellers is sustained and improved .This approach is usually termed ¿sustainable livelihoods¿. Several texts here summarize lessons learned from the application of this approach in recent years.

Interfaces with other digests

The rural poor are frequently seen as the one stakeholder group most often marginalised in forest management decisions, for this reason there are many efforts underway to improve their participation

As a ¿horizontal¿ strategy, poverty alleviation is also an example of where cross sectoral coordination is beneficial.

Poverty alleviation is also a major motivation behind financing strategies that seek equitable sharing of forest benefits among rural communities

last updated:  Monday, August 14, 2006