PEN Study Questions Forests’ Role in Coping Strategies
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The Poverty and Environment Network (PEN), a collaborative effort led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), has released a study, which suggests that forests may play a less important role as safety nets following hardships than commonly thought.

'Safety Nets, Gap Filling and Forests: A Global-Comparative Perspective' reveals that across 24 developing countries, only one in ten households surveyed identifies natural forests and other non-cultivated resources as first responses to disasters.

CIFOR8 April 2014: The Poverty and Environment Network (PEN), a collaborative effort led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), has released a study that suggests forests may play a less important role as safety nets following hardships than commonly thought. ‘Safety Nets, Gap Filling and Forests: A Global-Comparative Perspective’ reveals that, across 24 developing countries, only one in ten households surveyed identifies natural forests and other non-cultivated resources as first responses to disasters.

The study is one of five initial papers from a quantitative global-comparative research project led by PEN on forests and rural livelihoods. The project will analyze data gathered from some 8,000 households in 24 developing countries.

The study finds that forests are less important than anticipated for filling seasonal gaps in production, with more households turning to off-farm labor than to forests in times of need. However, the report notes that those who do rely on forests as a coping mechanism tend to be poorer households with lower education and fewer assets such as land holdings. It also suggests that forests may be more important for regular income generation than is currently captured.

The study partly attributes the shift away from forests as coping mechanisms to a shift in rural economies, where off-farm employment is more readily available and more focus is placed on cash and the market economy. It also suggests that degradation may place limitations on the role forests can play following a disaster or disruption.

CIFOR is a member of CGIAR. [CIFOR Press Release] [Publication: Safety Nets, Gap Filling and Forests: A Global-Comparative Perspective]

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