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Protecting forests, improving livelihoods – Community forestry in Guatemala

This report by Silvel Elías, professor in the Faculty of Agronomy at the University of San Carlos de Guatemala, analyses the Guatemalan model of community forestry.

Community forests, a very old tradition in Guatemala, were institutionalised in the 1990s, when the government recognised the close relationship between local communities and forests. It felt that supporting communities’ forestry activities could help to improve their living standards. However, major obstacles exist, including poverty and inequality, tenure insecurity, a lack of respect for indigenous rights and knowledge, and pressure from other land uses.

This is one of four papers commissioned to inform discussions at a workshop held in Brussels in April 2014, which brought together participants from 30 countries to share their understanding and experience of community forestry, and develop action plans for their own countries. This was in response to many of Fern’s partner organisations lobbying for the creation of community forests as a way of allowing communities to directly benefit from forest management.

The other papers can be found at http://www.fern.org/small-scale-livelihood