Outcome of the Pre-Congress on Community Forestry as a basis for Governance and starting point for FLEGT and REDD
organized by the Mesoamerican Alliance of People and Forests (AMPB) in Honduras
24-25 September 2013
Over 220 representatives of Indigenous Peoples and community forestry organizations, forestry authorities and development agencies from 13 countries in Central America met in a special “”Pre-Congress” prior to the VII Central American Forestry Congress (COFOCA) in Honduras. This event demonstrated the growing importance and sophistication of national and regional organizations of forest peoples, and it established a space in which participants were able to share their experiences on how to strengthen forest governance at the local level and to explore the possibilities of developing a shared strategy for policy advocacy in the design of national FLEGT and REDD processes.
The event was well-covered by national, regional and some international media. Field visits to community forestry concessions in Petén, Guatemala, were organized to expose journalists directly to the remarkable work of many small forest enterprises in that region. A summary of the discussions at the Pre-Congress was presented to the governments of the region and provided as an input into the COFOCA.
Indigenous Peoples and local communities are making important gains in many countries in the region in terms of securing land tenure and gaining a voice in national-level policy-making. Levi Sucre, Coordinator of the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests, spoke eloquently of the central role of community forestry and Indigenous Peoples’ territorial management as the key to sustainable forestry in the region. Victoria Flores of the FEPROAH association of women’s small-scale forestry producers in Honduras clearly laid out the important role that forestry enterprises play for rural women and their communities. The producers’ groups she represents account for over 400,000 ha of forested lands. Victoria emphasized the importance of involving representatives of community forestry and small producers in FLEGT- and REDD-related discussions at all levels and stressed the importance of a policy environment that enabled access to forests and the development of enterprises and value-adding opportunities for small producers. The meeting produced an important common understanding and a dialogue between community forestry organizations in Mesoamerica, forestry authorities and international cooperation agencies to strengthen community forestry in the region.
The Forest and Farm Facility (FFF) was one of the partners of the Pre-Congress, along with the Ford Foundation, ClimateWorks, the Climate and Land Use Alliance, Kepa Finland, ICCO-Holland, Forest Trends, the Bank Information Center, Consejo Civil Mexicano para la Silvicultura Sostenible, Red Iberoamericana de Bosques Modelo (RIABM), the PRISMA Foundation, the Rainforest Alliance, the AGTER Association, the Center for Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education (CATIE), and the World Wildlife Fund. Forestry Officer, FFF, Jhony Zapata, gave the keynote address, making a strong case for support to Indigenous Peoples and community forestry organizations. The newly appointed manager of the FFF, Jeff Campbell, participated as a commentator on one of the panels.
The FFF team met with the board of the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests and discussed potential collaboration, especially in two areas: linking the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests with the global dialogue, and promoting regional knowledge and experience-sharing around issues prioritized by communities.