We use the term ‘community forestry’ as when “communities have the right to manage the forest resources upon which they depend, with a view to improving their living conditions.” This definition was agreed when Fern's partners met in 2014. Participants wanted to highlight that the term ‘community forestry’ refers to forest management by and from the point of view of communities.
How does community forestry work?
Community forestry works when local people and communities have the right to their land and are able to manage their forests in a way that benefits them, as well as the forest’s long term health. To support this, Fern works with partners to develop and promote community forestry in the following ways:
- Showing the economic, social and environmental benefits of community forestry, to allow civil society to advocate for alternatives to the large-scale industrial production model.
- Collecting different countries’ experiences of community forestry, to help develop new models in other countries.
- Connecting people working on community forestry in different countries, to enable them to learn directly from each other.
What are the benefits/advantages of community forestry?
Despite destroying both forests and forest-dependent peoples’ livelihoods, industrial scale logging and agriculture plantations are often presented as the only routes to pulling developing countries out of poverty. In fact, community-managed forestry and agriculture, when promoted by state policy and protected with secure land rights, can be much more effective at providing income, producing food, and protecting environmental quality for future generations.
What are the challenges of community forestry?
Compared to other regions such as Asia and Latin America, community forestry has yielded uneven results in West and Central Africa. The initial goal - enabling local communities to benefit directly from forest management - is not yet a reality. Problems include uneven political support, legal and technical constraints, land grabbing, capture by logging companies, and unsecure land tenure. All of these have a detrimental impact on communities.