To assist them, international forestry experts will meet in Nepal next week to share knowledge about how to ensure this support brings the most social and environmental gains.
The meeting on 12-15 February in Kathmandu is the latest in a series held under the Forest Connect project which aims to connect small and medium sized business in the forest sector to each other, and to service providers, buyers, investors and governance processes.
"Locally controlled forest enterprises can do much to reduce poverty and protect natural resources," says Duncan Macqueen, head of the forest team at IIED, which coordinates Forest Connect with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). "They create wealth and jobs, empower local people, strengthen social networks and make people accountable for the resources they manage."
Without such benefits, it is harder for governments and international bodies to enforce laws, regulations and sustainability standards in the forest sector.
"Enhanced support for locally-controlled forest enterprises will be critical to the success of the efforts to build green economies and tackle climate change through payments for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation," says Macqueen. "In an era of scarce funding to support local forest enterprises, it is urgent that we prioritise the sectors that are likely to deliver multiple social and environmental gains."
The Asia Network for Sustainable Agriculture and Bioresources will host the meeting, which will hear from speakers from Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Mexico, Nepal, Tanzania, Vietnam and other countries.
The delegates will present information about which locally controlled forest enterprise subsectors in their countries best deliver against multiple environment and development criteria – such as income generation, gender equity, food security, energy security, climate change mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity conservation, and soil fertility without excessive nitrogen use.
"The meeting should help us to identify which forms of locally controlled forestry deserve the most support," says Sophie Grouwels, Forestry Officer of FAO. "It will show whether some subsectors in particular are best at generating additional gains for environmental and social criteria – or whether we need to support a broad portfolio of different kinds of enterprises."
Journalists are invited to the first session of the meeting on 12 February from 8:30am- 10:00am at the Everest Hotel, New Baneswor, Kathmandu, Nepal. Contact email@example.com to register
08.30 Coffee and registration
09.00 Opening Remarks and Welcome – Bhishma Subedi, Nepal
09.25 Keynote on the importance of locally controlled forest enterprises in Nepal – Government representative
09.50 Introduction to the Forest Connect alliance – Sophie Grouwels, FAO
Links to reports
Duncan Macqueen (firstname.lastname@example.org) +44 (0)2034637399
Sophie Grouwels (Sophie.Grouwels@fao.org) +39 (0)657055299
Lucile Robinson (email@example.com) +44 (0)2034637399
For other queries contact Mike Shanahan (firstname.lastname@example.org) +44 (0)2034637399
Notes to editors
The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) is an independent, non-profit research institute. Set up in 1971 and based in London, IIED provides expertise and leadership in researching and achieving sustainable development (see: www.iied.org).
Forest Connect was established in 2007 and is global in scope, involving 10-15 in-country teams in more direct attempts to support small forest enterprises, a co-management team led by FAO and IIED, supported by a steering committee and a wider network of 900+ interested individuals and institutions from 60 countries worldwide. At the first Forest Connect workshop in Edinburgh in 2-4 July 2008, supporters of small forest enterprises from around the world identified what types of guidance they needed to do their job better.