Enterprise is the hallmark of poverty alleviation. Income-generating activities can serve to build a sustainable future for forest-dependent peoples and the forests themselves. Secure rights to the forest are a necessity for this to work, as well as access to supporting institutions and markets.
For enterprise to be successful, businesses requires investment – and investors require security. The jumping off point for successful enterprise is therefore ensuring that policies are in place guarantee secure, commercial rights to forests for local people. This means building and strengthening capacity for local communities to link with decision-makers.
To build such foundations, it is often necessary to link small forest enterprises with each other in federations that have political clout. Grouping enterprises together into such associations can also improve bargaining power in markets and reduce the costs for business and financial service providers. The transaction costs of formal registration, getting market information, organising transport, setting up sales outlets can be prohibitive for small businesses working on their own and small returns are often unattractive to outside investors. So catalysing associations to overcome costs and develop new investment opportunities can mean the difference between success and failure for small forest enterprises.
Throughout the year, we will profile books, reports, blogs and articles about forest-linked enterprise, encouraging feedback and debate. Some of the current work of the forest team is listed below.
Publication highlight: Small and medium forest enterprises
Background and information about an ongoing series, which covers a wide range of countries with a significant number of, often informal, small and medium forest enterprises.
Forest Connect: championing local forest enterprises
Blog posting about IIED's Forest Connect project by Duncan Macqueen, Forest Team Leader
Forest Connect This alliance serves as a platform to strengthen the capacity of institutional hubs that better link small forest enterprises and their associations with each other and with markets, service providers and government decision-makers.
Action research is contributing to the development of an international toolkit of guidance for supporting small forest enterprises. Partners also undertake diagnostic reporting, mapping and benchmarking of service providers, value chain analyses, and the establishment of communication platforms and learning tools.
Developing community forestry management as a contribution to poverty reduction in the Democratic Republic of Congo This recently completed project generated and tested new ideas for community forestry. The forests of the Congo Basin are among the last large areas of relatively intact tropical forest and it is thanks in large measure to the people of the DRC that this is the case. IIED provided input and support to a project co-ordinated by the UK NGO Forests Monitor which aimed at helping the DRC to develop policy and legislation that recognises and consolidates the management of forests by forest communities themselves.
For all comments and enquiries, please email the Forest Team