Local communities can play important role in environmental conservation and sustainability
GOVERNMENTS and businesses must give local people more control over forests to maximise social, economic, and environmental benefits. Communities can benefit, and also benefit the environment, with greater control over their forests. When local people control their forests they are more likely to conserve and use them sustainably.
Cooperatives can be successful and they produce things such as pulp, sawn timber, furniture, and biofuels and sell them to international markets. Community forestry turns forests from barren wastelands into green and productive areas.
In 2009, the Global Alliance of Community Forestry joined forces with the International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forest and the International Family Forestry Alliance to create Three Rights Holders’ Group (G3), a global network of family, community and Indigenous foresters. The G3 provides a platform and a united voice for local forest-dependent people across the world that are usually not included in national policy-making or international decisions.
Despite a track record of locally controlled forestry and reports of social conflict between local communities and big companies over forests across the world, money continues to flow into the bigger international corporations rather than into supporting locally controlled forestry. Governments and investors need to approach business from a different angle in order to reap a wider range of benefits and on a long-term basis.
Instead of being led by resources, investment models for locally controlled forestry must be led by rights, based on right-holders managing forest resources and seeking capital and partnerships. Practical and fair solutions such as locally controlled forestry cannot be ignored, when the stakes are so high and the benefits so clear.