Forest and family farms together sustaining livelihoods and landscapes
A large proportion of forest dependent people in the world are also family farmers and a significant number of family farmers depend heavily on forests. Family forests overlap directly with family farming in multiple ways – making them an inseparable part of the livelihood strategies and natural resource management systems for smallholders all over the world. More than a billion of the world’s poorest people rely on forests and trees on farms to provide food, energy and cash income (FAO, 2012). Rural communities have recognized ownership or long-term use rights to 31 percent of the developing world’s forests – over 490 million hectares (RRI, 2013). Many of these rights are held by family forest owners. Family forests have played a vital role in the development of a number of Northern countries and continue to be a major part of their economy. In China there are now over 100 million family forest owners as a result of large scale forest tenure reform. Trees on farms, and farms within forested landscapes and adjacent to forest lands are part of a mosaic of natural resource based production and ecosystem services that make up the life support system for the planet. For many family farmers it is almost impossible to separate these elements. Indeed it is the unique combination of forest and farm resources which allow for the complex agroecological and natural resource management systems that have been the reservoirs of nutrition, genetic materials, fuel and energy, fodder and building materials, water retention and recharge, biological and cultural diversity all over the world.
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