Rome, 28 March, 2012: Community forestry has the potential to deliver significant economic benefits for local communities. However, this requires that it moves beyond providing mainly subsistence goods to becoming a vehicle for the development of forest enterprises that can contribute to a genuine new forest economy. There is urgent need to remove regulatory bottlenecks and strengthen community institutions to negotiate and tap into profitable markets.
FAO and its partners, ITTO and RECOFTC, organized an Experts Meeting to develop a course of action toward an international initiative to promote the potential of community forests in contributing to sustainable development of community forestry. The meeting was attended by 26 Experts from a range of institutions and organizations from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, and USA. Participants hailed from international agencies, government forestry agencies, NGOs, academia, research institutions, private sector, Indigenous groups, and community forestry alliances.
Participants exchanged concrete experiences based on their professional engagements and perspectives from different regions. They outlined major impediments for commercialization of forest products, discussed possible interventions, and reached a common understanding to pursue an international initiative coordinated by FAO. This initiative would continue to link existing efforts, enable information exchange, and advocate for action from all relevant stakeholders to support communities to commercialize valuable products from their forests. While recognizing that existing initiatives will continue with new perspectives from the meeting, a stock-taking/mapping exercise is planned in the near future to provide a basis for concrete integrated field-based activities.
RECOFTC presented preliminary results of our research on regulatory barriers.