Programme FAO-UE FLEGT

Women at the forefront of sustainable forest management in Mozambique


The FAO-EU FLEGT Programme and the Mozambican National Directorate of Forests join efforts to engage local communities in the sustainable management and conservation of forests and natural resources

As part of broader efforts to sustainably manage forest resources, the Mozambican government has committed to returning 20 percent of natural resource harvesting taxes to local forest communities engaged in sustainable forest management. To be entitled to this benefit, communities must be represented by a formal Natural Resource Management Committee (NRMC). This effectively means that over 300 local communities without NRMCs are unable to receive benefits. To ensure commmunities receive the benefits they are entitled to, the FAO-EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Programme supported an all-women team from the National Directorate of Forests (DINAF) to organize, formalize and train NRMCs in the region.

Through field visits and exchanges, this women-led initiative brought together and formalized 45 NRMCs representing 475 members, greatly exceeding the original goal of ten new Committees and 100 members. In addition, 87 of the 475 registered NRMC members are women – a remarkable feat in the context of a typically male-dominated sector. All new committees were  registered and announced on the Boletim da República, the official government news portal. DINAF also guided the Committees through the process of opening new bank accounts. By the end of the project cycle, five NRMCs had already received  government incentives, amounting to a total of 2 million meticais, or USD 32 000, mobilized for community development purposes and sustainable income-generating activities. These include cattle raising, harvesting crops and building infrastructure, such as school classrooms and water wells and fountains.

Building the capacity of local communities

DINAF trained 75 NRMC members, including 24 women, on financial management, to ensure the correct, efficient and effective use of funds. The financial management trainings included ways to capitalize on government incentives and the development of business plans for economic activities such as corn and manioc harvesting and trade, animal care and the commercialization of veterinary products. The trainings resulted in the expansion and strengthening of local income-generating activities related to agriculture and cattle raising, led by both male and female entrepreneurs. Despite the project's female leadership, local women still struggle against gender inequalities and cultural hindrances to the participation of women in business transactions and group discussions, all of which limit their growth and financial independence in the forestry sector. Finally, participants were also equipped with technical knowledge on sustainable forest management practices for better land use.

Facilitating sharing of knowledge between communities

To further the NRMC's capacity to maximize the use of the benefits received, 20 local community members, out of which nine were women, participated in knowledge and experience exchange sessions between communities. Throughout the multiple sessions, participants discussed the management of forest resources and potential investments into cattle and crops. DINAF also organized open debates on the most efficient use of government forestry tax returns, protecting forest resources from illegal extraction, preventing forest fires and fighting illegal logging. "The exchanges were very useful as we were able to learn how other communities will be using the government incentive they have received," stated Mr Jorge Mário, president of the Nacocola Community NRMC. The exchanges between communities fostered a greater sense of unity and solidarity between members of NRMCs present. It is expected that more exchanges will take place beyond the project cycle, so that communities continue to learn and build on the benefits of sharing resources between themselves.

At the time of writing, five out of the 45 communities have received their tax returns related to forest management. The Mozambican government has made a firm commitment to supporting the remaining communities to receive their funds in the near future. The effective allocation of government funds will significantly contribute to sustaining local livelihoods and the region's expansion of sustainable forest management practices. DINAF has also committed to providing continuous support to the communities in implementing their business plans and expanding income-generating activities, focusing on those led by women. In the long run, this initiative is expected to support the conservation of national forests and provide opportunities for women to occupy their rightful positions in the sector.

Since 2016, the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme has supported four projects in Mozambique, amounting to approximately USD 400 000, primarily focusing on reducing illegal logging through strengthening the private sector in sustainable forest use and supporting the role of local communities in the management and monitoring of forest resources.

The FAO-EU FLEGT Programme is a global demand-driven initiative that provides technical support and resources for activities that further the goals of the EU's FLEGT Action Plan. The Programme is funded by the European Union, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom.

For more information :

FAO-EU FLEGT Programme

FAO in Mozambique