FAO Develops Assessment Tools to Support Effective Community Forest Conservation
UN Photo/Eva Fendiaspara
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‘A Framework to Assess the Extent and Effectiveness of Community-based Forestry’ includes guidance on how to: categorize diverse CBF initiatives; determine and track the extent and effectiveness of the broad spectrum of CBF initiatives; assess the institutionalization of CBF regimes; and assess changes across different forms of capital.

The ‘Tool to Support the Implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure’ focuses on the broader enabling environment for CBF.

An added benefit of both assessment tools is their potential – if based on participatory processes – to support the development of a common vision for strengthening CBF implementation and governance at country level.

21 June 2019: There is broad consensus that community-based forestry (CBF) conservation, backed up by supportive governance arrangements, can play an important role in reducing poverty and restoring ecosystems. Two working papers, published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), aim to support policymakers’ efforts to assess which CBF approaches and tenure arrangements also contribute to national and higher level objectives, and therefore contribute to the implementation of the SDGs.

The papers examine, in particular, links with SDGs 15 (life on land), 1 (no poverty), 2 (zero hunger), 13 (climate action), 5 (gender equality), 10 (reduced inequalities), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 12 (responsible consumption and production); and 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions).

The rationale for CBF is its potential to rapidly restore forests and scale up sustainable forest management (SFM) to the national level, while improving local livelihoods for the most marginalized people. The working paper titled, ‘A Framework to Assess the Extent and Effectiveness of Community-based Forestry,’ analyzes the evolution of CBF over the past four decades. It notes that while CBF approaches have been mainstreamed into many national development programmes, there is a lack of reliable data on their effectiveness at the national, regional and global scales. To fill this gap, the paper presents a framework that can help policymakers to draw useful insights on the successes, as well as the continued shortcomings of CBF.

Among other topics, the guidance covers how to: categorize diverse CBF initiatives; determine and track the extent and effectiveness of the broad spectrum of CBF initiatives; assess the institutionalization of CBF regimes by government and civil society and the level of empowerment of local stakeholders involved; and assess changes across different forms of capital. The paper also proposes some indicators that may be used at country level.

The working paper titled, ‘Assessing the Governance of Tenure for Improving Forests and Livelihoods: A Tool to Support the Implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure,’ focuses on the broader enabling environment for CBF. The paper notes that while the rise of CBF has been driven by concerns over the rights of indigenous peoples and other forest groups, coupled with a recognition of inadequacies in centralized state management, new drivers such as a growing global population, market demands and climate change are increasing the pressure on natural resources and undermining the rights of affected communities.

The proposed tool is intended to help countries to better understand the strengths and limitations of diverse forest tenure arrangements, particularly those that recognize customary and other non-statutory systems designed to facilitate the participation of non-state actors, including co-management regimes, community forestry, smallholder forestry or company concessions granted on state land. Drawing on the internationally endorsed Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT), the tool is intended to provide input to ensure inclusion and safeguard rights when designing new forestry initiatives or revising existing forest policies and laws. Specific applications for the tool highlighted in the paper include designing or strengthening existing forestry initiatives such as REDD+ policies and programmes and forest-based enterprise development.

An added benefit of both assessment tools is their potential – if based on participatory processes – to support the development of a common vision for strengthening CBF implementation and governance at country level.

The guidance tools were launched during Asia-Pacific Forestry Week 2019, held from 17-21 June 2019 in Incheon, Republic of Korea. [Publication: A Framework to Assess the Extent and Effectiveness of Community-based Forestry] [Publication Landing Page] [Publication: Assessing the Governance of Tenure for Improving Forests and Livelihoods: A Tool to Support the Implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure] [Publication Landing Page] [FAO Press Release]


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