Re: Forests and trees provide benefits for food security and nutrition– what is your say?


Dear moderators and other members

In my last posting I sent a wrong note which had some typo mistakes, inconsistent sentences and incomplete lines. I would like to correct and complete them. Firstly I would like to clarify that using ideas of this forum in conference papers by acknowledging sources is not unethical practice. I am also not challenging the jobs of people in high profile organizations. I am sharing my experiences and understanding that current forest policies and practices at both national and international levels are focused on benefiting affluent societies and elite classes which have harmed local food security and economic activities and marginalized forest based communities and other socially disadvantaged people in developing countries. I pointed international polices and agencies because they have very high influences on determining national policies of forest management and food security in developing countries particularly with weak institutions and bad governance.

1.  How do forests contributes food security in developing countries?

Many participants focused on direct contribution of forest on food security and nutrition. Forests also contribute to food security indirectly. Traditionally, many varieties of local vegetables, herbs, spices and other food crops and animal breeds were evolved and sustained on the forest resources based compost such as in Nepal. Some varieties are chemical fertilizer intolerant. The varieties and animals breeds are adaptable to marginal lands and still importance means of food security socially disadvantaged people. Access to products and services of common or public forests are also required for sustaining transhumance livestock practices and utilization of alpine pasture.  The resources are important means of food security of people in remote areas and mountain region. Community forests under the international interventions are managed to increase wood supplies to urban users and offset carbon emission produced by developed countries and affluent societies which institutionally locked opportunities of multipurpose uses of forest. Decreasing multipurpose management of forest has reduced local people's visits to forest and diversified product availabilities. It has greatly contributed to eroding local knowledge and practices. The water sources of many communities are springs. People have experienced decreasing of dry season spring water flow in Nepal as forest cover increases in the catchments. International interventions on forest policies in developing countries have hampered the indirect contribution to food security.

2. What is needed for food security policies and strategies to recognize the contributions and value that forests and trees bring?

As I stated in my last posting that the problems are very pervasive and complex to exploit the opportunities that forest and trees contributes on food security and nutrition. International funding practices, working behavior of working in forestry field (national and international levels), changes in national and international forest policies and forestry educational systems are increasingly going against forest management for food security and forest based people. Private land areas of many households are not enough to produce forest or trees for food security. Community forest and public forest resources are means to complement private resources and contribute to food security in the forest based communities. This has received very little recognition from influential agencies or people. Even the facilitators have not recognized these problems in the concept note distributed in this forum for discussion.
3. A question for the facilitators

I would like to ask the facilitators what motivated FAO to work on forest management for food security. FAO policies and working histories are very controversial on this subject. For example,  FAO was one of the leading agencies to advise and support Nepal government for reducing forest resource based livestock holding (a principle means of food security) of Nepalese farmers (please read preface of Nepal’s Forestry Sector Master Plan 1988). FAO has also policies to support REDD programme in developing countries.  If you work to promote forest management for food security, the policy will conflict with international forest policy other influential donors such as UK, Norway, US, Germany and Australia which reaffirmed their commitment of continuous funding and supports to achieve REDD objectives in developing countries beyond 2012. The forest managed for REDD cannot contribute on food security. The donor agencies are interested to reduce livestock holding of developing countries as I showed evidences in India and Nepal. I request facilitators how the FAO address the conflicts if you like to change. Are you raising the agenda just for formality and show an accomplishment of an activity in your progress report?

4. The problem of international forestry management policy: A kaleidoscopic case

The problem of international forestry management policy is a kaleidoscopic case that can be explained by multiple schools of thought. Some schools of thought are as follow.

a) Proponents of the western hegemony school of thought argue that international policies and practices are founded on the western world’s institutions, values, social preferences and practices which are routed through the place of organizational origin (in the case of INGOs), main source of funding, languages, people’s expertise and pro-western preference in influential job positions. Most of western values and practices are incompatible with conditions and needs of forest based communities in developing countries and in many cases environmentally unsustainable or unfriendly. The practices and values of western world are propagated and imposed through international forums and agencies. The values, ideas and practices of the non- western world are filtered or suppressed. The pervasiveness of the western hegemony has made national professionals powerless to understand and protect the quality of local institutions and practices and real needs of disadvantaged citizen. Therefore forestry resources traditionally used in achieving food security is hampered by increasing western influences on forest management in developing countries.

b) Scholars of the institutional school of thought argue that the community unfriendly activities and marginalization are outcomes of bad governance of government agencies of host countries. The government of institutionally weak and bad governance gets easily influenced by vested interest international agencies or governments, and imposes forest policies and practices for the benefit and interest of the international agencies or governments. The policies and practices hamper forestry contribution on food security and marginalize poor people.  

c) The proponents of the behavioral school of thought argue that people working in forest and environmental field have been too conservative and narrowly focused by education, professionalization and working practices. They have lost their thinking ability and judgmental capacity in socioeconomic needs and broader environmental problems. The wrong doings of the conservative people have been unchallenged by other professional groups, civil societies and intellectuals due to technically complex field. Forest based and poor people have been victim of the wild behavior of the people working in forestry and environmental field.

d) Proponents of the neocolonial school of thought argue that developed countries, purposely and strategically introduced forestry institutions and management practices to lock the land resources used in food production and destroy livestock farming in developing countries. The restriction on land uses of developing countries increases future market value of agricultural products for developed countries which hold vastly privatized lands and well developed technologies. This can help to influence world policy by controlling food. The controls on the use of forests and the production of livestock in the poor communities also reduce global greenhouse gas emission, which would relieve the pressure on emission intensive businesses in developed countries.

e) The argument of proponents of the gangster school of thought differs from the proponents of the neocolonial school of thought. According to the gang school of thought, an influential ‘gang’ of business people (often termed think tanks, experts and consultants) have socially tactically constructed forest policies and values in the world and sold to influential political actors including governments in developed countries who are desperate of tactical ideas and policy solutions to cool down public outcry for environmental management in home, and keep their symbolic and political existence in overseas. The gang developed the idea to maximize their benefit and did not care who loss and impact in societies. Similar behavioral business groups also are existed at regional and national levels. They have propagated the practices and ideas of the master mind gang and are paid by developed countries. Other people hopped on their bandwagon. The forest are managed poor communities became victim of the working policy of the business groups.
5. Summary international forestry development support is a “Naked Emperor’s” story

Forests used by communities in developing countries are considered inefficiently managed and environmentally degraded, and that international policies, payment and development supports would improve the products and services from the forests, benefit local people and contribute on holistic environmental sustainability. International measures are increased to manage the forests and achieved the objectives. This study used secondary sources of information and the coupled social-ecological system theory, and critically analyzed local issues of international policies and supports on community forest and climate change forest management in Nepal. It showed that the forest management interventions institutionally locked opportunities of multipurpose uses of forest, worsened water yield and local knowledge, and hampered local economic activities. The interventions influenced the host country’s policies and forestry practices which spoiled indigenous forestry systems evolved and practiced over hundreds of years and reduced local food security. The management also reduced habitat diversities for forest based species and resource supplies for sustaining agro-biodiversities. Local people are used to manage forests in the name of community participation but they are oppressed and institutionally and economically marginalized. Some of the forestry systems established by the external interventions are turned too costly to change and will remain affecting local communities and environmental systems and benefiting distance users for long term. It can be best termed a green grabbing of local forestry resources.

Thank you.
Best Wishes.
Bhubaneswor Dhakal