Natural Forest Management
SFM for social development
For millions of people living in poverty, forest and tree resources provide food, fuel for cooking and heating, medicine, shelter and clothing, and also function as safety nets in crises or emergencies – for example, when crops fail due to prolonged drought or when heads of households are unable to engage in productive activities because of war or illness. Close to 1.6 billion people rely on forest resources for their livelihoods, and some developing countries use fuelwood to meet up to 90 percent of their energy requirements. SFM can accommodate such considerations in its objectives and management approaches.
Employment and income generated through the harvesting, processing and sale of forest goods and environmental services are important in many rural areas. Forests can complement the income earned and livelihood support provided by other land uses, such as agriculture.
In implementing SFM, adequate provision should be made, as appropriate, for occupational safety and health and respect for labour rights, as specified in national legislation and international agreements as well as in forest certification standards and other voluntary social responsibility codes.
Community labour for silvicultural treatment in a pine forest, Dominican Republic.The social pillar of SFM is broad, encompassing concepts such as participation, fairness, access and use rights, safety, gender equity, and the management of change and conflict in communities affected by forest activities. These aspects need appropriate attention in any effort to implement SFM.
The people directly involved in a given forest area and its surroundings should have the opportunity to participate in setting the objectives for and implementing SFM. Decisions on forest use and conservation imposed on stakeholders lack legitimacy and are likely to be resisted and to lead to conflict. Therefore, adequate consultation mechanisms are needed.
Fairness is an important component of SFM, especially in the sharing of the benefits and costs of forest use and in impoverished rural areas, which are common in developing countries. The implementation of SFM should reduce inequality, promote the development of locally owned and operated enterprises, and improve working conditions. Training forest workers in the use of safety equipment.However, special measures may be needed to ensure the equitable sharing of benefits through, for example, investment in housing, education, medical services and other social infrastructure and the equitable allocation of rights to resources and resource use.
The implementation of SFM requires that social indicators are monitored, and any negative impacts – such as conflicts over the allocation of benefits and costs – are addressed, including by providing support for social learning, building cooperation and trust among stakeholders, and developing a common vision for the contribution of SFM to socioeconomic development.
SFM for food security
Forests are subsistence “safety nets” for the rural poor, a majority of whom use forests or trees outside forests for all or part of their livelihoods. Such people often depend directly on forests for food, such as tubers, fruits, edible leaves, bushmeat, mushrooms and honey, and also for a range of medicinal products. Forests also provide rural people with fuelwood for cooking and heating, construction materials for shelter, and fodder for animals. SFM makes direct contributions to food security by generating employment and income, and also indirect contributions by providing environmental services that assist with crop production and animal husbandry, such as the regulation of local, regional and global climates (particularly rainfall) and the protection of watersheds and against flooding and landslides.