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Local control of forests increases income and sustainability

A 'rights-based' system places local control of forests at the heart of investment processes (© Mike Goldwater/IIED)
A 'rights-based' system places local control of forests at the heart of investment processes
© Mike Goldwater/IIED

To increase the incomes of the billion forest-dependent people worldwide, a 'rights-based' system of locally controlled forestry, which places local control of forests at the heart of investment processes, is required, a report has revealed. "The rights-based approach recognizes local people's autonomy and their rights to determine the land's destiny and to gain income from its effective management," says Minni Degawan, Project Coordinator for KADIOAN, an Indigenous Peoples organisation based in the Philippines. "Empowering local people to make decisions on commercial forest management and land, with secure tenure rights, the ability to build their own organizations and access to markets and technology can be a highly effective way of raising incomes and protecting forestry resources."

The report, Investing in Locally Controlled Forestry, was the result of an initiative, led by The Forests Dialogue (TFD), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Growing Forests Partnerships (GFP), in which a series of country dialogues engaged over 400 forest owners, investors, NGOs, governments and intergovernmental agencies. "A first step is to recognize that many forests and landscapes are inhabited by people with some form of land rights," saysChris Buss, Senior Programme Officer for IUCN's Global Forest and Climate Change Programme. "Investors are increasingly aware they must respect these rights through recognized processes, although the practical implications of such processes have until now received less attention."

According to Duncan Macqueen, lead author of the report and head of the forest team at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), 'Investing in Locally Controlled Forestry' (ILCF) is "an approach to forest sector investment that offers a triple win of acceptable returns to investors, secure commercial income streams to local forest-dependant people, and better prospects for forest protection." To achieve this triple win, however, Macqueen states that "advocacy to secure and formalise commercial forest rights, capacity building to convert those rights into self-sufficient businesses, organisation building to achieve scale efficiencies and market negotiating power and deal brokering to ensure that asset investors play fair with local groups," are required.

Date published: September 2012

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