As the first week of COP-21 wraps up in Paris, many are underscoring the potential for community-managed forests to mitigate climate change. While decentralizing control over natural forests is a big step in the right direction, it is also clear that community forests can face increased pressure once they are handed over. In this context, the capacity of communities to manage forests sustainably and make forestry a competitive land-use choice has taken on a growing importance.
Across the global tropics, the Rainforest Alliance supports the development of community forest enterprises (CFEs) to improve forestry operations, organize socially-equitable enterprises, and achieve greater competitiveness. With support from the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), we have produced a series of ten case studies profiling the results of our work with CFEs in the Latin America region, now available here.
Case studies were carefully selected to cover all five countries where the MIF project operated (Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru), and to reflect the full range of CFE partners – from highly incipient operations, to second-tier business alliances among multiple well-developed, FSC-certified enterprises. Special attention was also paid to ensuring representativeness with respect to forest ecosystems (temperate and tropical), tenure arrangement (permanent and concession) and production focus (timber and non-timber).
Taken together, the ten studies support the growing body of evidence demonstrating that community-based production forestry can be an effective approach to conserving forest resources while also generating significant social and economic benefits for marginalized communities. While there is significant heterogeneity among the cases – both in terms of context and outcomes – the following key messages emerge from the studies:
· CFEs can be highly profitable, and can contribute significantly to household livelihoods
· CFEs can conserve forest as well as, or better than, protected areas, and implement forest management that will sustain timber and NTFP harvesting over the long term
· CFEs can honor community aims and cultural values while creating new structures, professionalizing management and achieving enterprisecompetitiveness
· New markets for lesser-known species and value-added products can be forged by CFEs, and CFEs can deliver quality products to highly demanding markets
· New loan mechanisms for CFEs can be developed, and CFEs can successfully manage credits
· CFEs can create significant opportunities for women, especially when they diversify their businesses and build up value-added capacity
To achieve such outcomes, CFEs require:
· A supportive legal and institutional environment
· Solid social foundations and enterprise administration capacities that are continually strengthened
· Long-term support through technical assistance, transcending the typical project cycle
· Links to responsible markets
· Access to finance tailored to local needs
For more information on our work with CFEs visit http://www.rainforest-