This four-day meeting highlighted realistic options for forest management and income generation by local and poor people, drawn from experiences in Latin America, Northern America, Africa and Asia. Case studies presented include: how the Kongo community in Cameroon manages a 3,000-hectare community forest, how Nepal successfully involves communities in forest management and in small-scale enterprises, and the extent to which communities in Thua Thien Hue and Dak Lak provinces in central Vietnam participate and benefit from forest allocation and subsequent timber harvesting.
The conference also provided insights into policies and legislation that can benefit both forests and the poor. Technical, economic, institutional and policy aspects of small-scale and labour-intensive forest management and wood processing were reviewed. A taskforce is being set up to promote community-based and labour-intensive forest management for poverty reduction.
In concluding the meeting, delegates issued a conference statement calling for forestry policy makers, forest-related development organizations, donors, private sector and local communities to work together in ensuring that forests are also managed for the benefits of the poor. They specifically called on policy makers to improve access and rights of the poor to forest resources, and to simplify forest laws and regulations. International development organizations and donors were requested to help set up comprehensive support systems for wood-based enterprises in rural communities. The private sector was urged to facilitate partnerships with local communities, households and forest associations, and local communities were asked to play a more active role in forestry policy making and in fostering forest enterprise development.
The conference was jointly organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), the Department of Forestry in Vietnam, the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), the Tropical Forest Trust (TFT), the Regional Community Forestry Training Center (RECOFTC) and the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC). The conference was made possible with financial support from ITTO and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS).