FAO Regional Office for Africa

Forests and farm producer organizations rally support for greater investment in forest peoples

Pre-Congress event builds momentum to place people and their organizations at the heart of the World Forestry Congress

©FAO/Roberto Faidutti / FAO

6 September 2015, Durban - Community-based forest and farm producer organizations called for greater investment in forest peoples ahead of the XIV World Forestry Congress (WFC) taking place in Durban, South Africa, 7-11 September.

More than 125 participants from 39 countries attended the pre-Congress event, “Building momentum for community-based forestry, forest and farm producer organizations”, held in Durban on 5-6 September.

Participants agreed on a global declaration asserting that the solution to a sustainable future for forests lies in investing in forest peoples themselves. The declaration represents the local voice of communities, forest and farm producer organizations, indigenous people and family forest owners from around the world, and, merges messages developed in a series of preparatory events held in Latin America, Asia and Africa since 2014.

A central role in forests and sustainable development

More than 1.3 billion indigenous and local communities and smallholder forest producers are the people closest to, and best able to protect and manage, the world’s forests.

These same producers provide income and direct livelihoodsfor most of rural Africa and worldwide. With the right policies, legislation, investments and services, such groups hold great potential for strengthening rural economies and managing and restoring the forest landscapes on which those economies depend.

 “It is estimated that close to one third of the world forests are under some kind of community-based forestry regime,” said Eva Muller, Director of FAO’s Forest Economic Policy and Products Division. “This includes forests owned or managed by indigenous peoples and other traditional communities, and small holder family farmers.

“FAO recognizes the vital role of local communities and their organizations at many levels, and much more still needs to be done to ensure they get secure access to resources, markets, services and investments.“

Participants at the event in Durban stressed the urgent need to recognize the potential of locally controlled  forestry to contribute to Sustainable Development Goals and improve local livelihoods. They underlined that diverse and effective community-based forestry regimes are able to withstand internal and external shocks, including the uncertain impacts associated with climate change.

Smallholders and family forest owners also emphasized their active role in marketing a wide range of tree and forest products, and in forest restoration and tree planting on a grand scale. 

“Without explicit recognition and support for the central role of indigenous peoples, community based forestry, and forest and farm producer organizations, it is unlikely that any of the major efforts to address climate change, food insecurity, loss of environmental services, large-scale deforestation and land conversion, or indeed the Sustainable Development Goals, will be fully achieved” said Jeffrey Y. Campbell, Manager of the Forest and Farm Facility, a partnership between FAO, IIED and IUCN and one of the co-organizers of the pre-Congress event. 

A combined message to share at the WFC and the UN Climate Change Conference

In their declaration, participants called for secure land tenure, recognition of ancestral territories and resource rights, active participation in decision-making, access to markets and services, and the need for technical and financial investment in enterprises, women, youth and organizations. They also called on governments and the large-scale private sector to partner with them, providing technical skills and allocating resources. 

Indigenous peoples, local communities and forest and farm producer organizations expressed their commitment to providing solutions for the future of forestry and set out a strategy to actively promote their messages through the World Forestry Congress and beyond to the United Nations Forum on Forests, the Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Climate Change Conference.

“We need to ensure that we build on the momentum of years of work on these issues, drawing attention to the key enabling policy and economic conditions and attracting new investments,” said Dominique Reeb, Senior Forestry Officer at FAO.  “FAO sees this as an important priority under several of its Strategic Objectives including our efforts to reduce rural poverty and ensure the sustainable production of natural resources.”

The event was co-organized by partner organizations including FAO, the Forest and Farm Facility (with partners FAO, the International Institute for Environment and Development and the International Union for Conservation of Nature), Forestry South Africa, the Center for People and Forests, Tropenbos – International, the International Family Forestry Alliance, The Mesoamerican Alliance for People and Forests, the International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal People of the Tropical Forest, the Asian Farmers Association, the Global Alliance for Community Forestry with funding from the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Germany, Finland, Sweden, the USA and AgriCord, through its Farmers Fighting Poverty Programme.


Forest and Farm Facility: http://www.fao.org/partnerships/forest-farm-facility/en/

http://www.fao.org/forestry/en/  (People and forests)

Building Momentum,  Pre Congress: http://www.fao.org/about/meetings/world-forestry-congress/programme/pre-congress-events/building-momentum/en/


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