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Dear FSN colleagues,
I submit comments for your consideration in developing the next version of the draft framework relating to Question 3.2 Social Protection and 3.3 Health and wish to highlight the role of forests and trees.
3.2 Social Protection
Most of the community forestry work which gives communities long-term control over assets is a form of social protection. The functioning of forest foods as famine foods is a form of social protection. Village saving funds – put together by e.g. thousands of forest protection committees in India and community forestry user groups and used for health-related emergencies, deaths, and other community support activities – are another form of social protection.
The role of forests and trees outside forests in the health and health systems of local communities
I believe the draft should recognize and reflect the fact that local communities often work outside the formal employment sector and may be physically distant from official healthcare structures and facilities. They therefore make greater use of forest products as a source of natural medicines and nutrient-rich, health-enhancing foods. In this regard, please see FAO Forestry publication 1995 “Medicinal plants for conservation and health care”, the foreword of which states the following:
“The World Health Organization estimated that 80% of the population of developing countries rely on traditional medicines, mostly plant drugs, for their primary health care needs. Also, modern pharmacopoeia still contain at least 25% drugs derived from plants and many others which are synthetic analogues built on prototype compounds isolated from plants. Demand for medicinal plants is increasing in both developing and developed countries, and surprisingly, the bulk of the material traded is still from wild harvested sources on forest lands and only a very small number of species are cultivated…”
In addition, you may wish to consider the following amendments to the draft framework of action:
Paragraph 3.3.4 Nutrition education for behaviour change
- … “There is also a role for behaviour change interventions to use locally sourced nutritious foods, reduce waste …
- …”Nutrition information given to farming households can inform better decisions about food grown and how to grow them …” is almost a repetition of “People need clear and accurate information to be able to make healthy choices” You may consider deleting either one or combining them as follows: “nutrition information given to farming households should be clear and accurate so that better decisions about food grown...”
- …”Households food gardens, including agroforestry, in both rural and urban areas can be a vital complement to commercial food production with great potential …”
- …”Health, agriculture, forestry, and education ministries should coordinate their advice …”
Some documentation to support the above amendments includes:
- The Moringa olefeira tree is an example of a forest product with documented health benefits on which there are many peer-reviewed articles regarding its use as a medicinal plant by local communities in Africa and Asia (view hyperlink).
- The FAO document “ Towards food security and improved nutrition, increasing the contribution of forests and trees”, produced after the May 2013 International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition hosted at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy, states:
“ … Greater attention on forests and trees outside forests would therefore strengthen the four pillars of food security (access, availability, use and stability) while facilitating consumption of nutritionally adequate diets (in terms of quantity, variety, diversity and nutrient content) …”’;
Under the section Economic, social and health benefits:
“...The rich diversity of medicinal plants found in forests is important for the wellbeing of millions of forest-dependent people and forms the basis of many health products now produced globally…”
… Foods obtained from forests and trees outside forests – in the form of leaves, seeds, nuts, honey, fruits, mushrooms, insects and wild animals – have been important in rural diets for thousands of years. Forest and tree foods often have very high nutritional value. Many forest animals are rich in readily absorbed iron, zinc and vitamin B12 as well as proteins and fat, and forests also provide diverse leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts and other plant foods important for the intake of vitamin A, iron, folate, niacin and calcium, readily absorbed iron, zinc and vitamin B12 as well as proteins and fat, and forests also provide diverse leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts and other plant foods important for the intake of vitamin A, iron, folate, niacin and calcium. In Burkina Faso, for example, where tree foods constitute 30 percent of rural diets, it has been reported that 100 grams of a fruit from the baobab tree contains 100 percent of a child’s recommended daily allowance of iron and potassium, 92 percent of a child’s recommended daily allowance of copper, and 40 percent of a child’s recommended daily allowance of calcium.
As you close your discussion, I highlight a couple of paragraphs from the keynote statement of Ms Mirna Cunningham Kain, UN Permanent Forum Member, delivered at the FAO International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition, 13 May 2013.
Ms. Cunningham’s full statement is available at this link: http://www.fao.org/forestry/37423-0450cc563e0dcc0086872b80f40682c4f.pdf
... Supplies of wood fuels influence nutrition through their impact on the availabilityof cooked food. If there is less fuel (or time) for cooking, consumption of uncookedand reheated food may increase. This may cause a serious rise in disease incidence as some uncooked foods may not be properly digested, and cooking is necessary toremove parasites. A decrease in the number of meals provided may have a particularly damaging effect on child nutrition
Since the First World Conference in Rio de Janero in June 2012, Indigenous Peoples have continued to underscore the inextricable link between Sustainable Development, the rights of Indigenous Peoples and the traditional knowledge, cultural understandings and practices that are the basis for the full exercise and enjoyment of our Food Security. All of these elements are included in Indigenous Peoples’ definition of Food Sovereignty developed at the 1st Indigenous Peoples’ Global Consultation on Food Sovereignty and the Right to Food and affirmed in a number of Indigenous Peoples’ International Declarations:
Food Sovereignty is the right of Peoples to define their own policies andstrategies for sustainable production, distribution, and consumption of food, with respect for their own cultures and their own systems of managing natural resources and rural areas, and is considered to be a precondition for Food Security. 2
17. Food Sovereignty, as affirmed in the Declaration of Atitlan, is referenced as acomponent of the international legal framework used by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in its Policy on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples.3 It has been affirmed as a fundamental principle in a number of international Indigenous Peoples’ declarations ...
Thank you and regards,
Forestry Department, FAO
Thank you for initiating this debate.
I think one key issue is obtaining better estimates/country data on forest dwellers i.e. who they are, where they live, and what they do to survive. This could mean greater collaboration within FAO in obtaining official statistics for the compilation of SOFA/SOFO/FRA etc. and within government ministries followed by greater joint analysis of data obtained, even funded by extra-budgetary resources if Regular Programme funding is not available. Basic statistical data would seem to be a fundamental requirement if there is going to be a policy shift in favour of the poor and hungry who depend on trees and forests.
(ii) Increased research and collaboration with fair trade entities as this commercial model favours smaller cooperatives, women and other disadvantaged groups - FAO's key constituencies.
(iii) Greater assistance and more consolidated information for small cooperatives to understand the legal procedures for patenting forest products, adding value locally and understanding and overcoming legal and market barriers to the sale of forest products would be helpful. Such support would help increase local incomes, thereby reducing poverty and increasing income available to spend on food. A pamphlet containing key points from the Voluntary Guidelines on Land Tenure aimed at forest dwellers and explaining, in accessible language, the benefits to forest groups could be produced.
(iv) Analysis of payment for ecosystem services might identify the true value of forests and how this might translate into monetary benefits for forest dwellers.