Malawi meeting shows how to make forestry fair and sustainable
Malawi will next week host experts from 10 countries to share the findings of an innovative project that puts social justice and equity at the heart of forest management.
The Forest Governance Learning Group (FGLG) is a groundbreaking initiative of the International Institute for Environment and Development, with country based teams in Cameroon, Malawi, Mozambique, Ghana, India, Indonesia, South Africa, Uganda, Vietnam.
Each team brings together researchers, policymakers, non-governmental organisations, and representatives from communities and businesses to identify how to manage forests for social and economic benefit in a sustainable way.
Members of the national FGLG teams will gather in Zomba on 2-5 December to assess achievements, share effective tactics and plan for a new five-year programme. Malawi's FGLG will share its many success stories with teams from the other nations.
Malawi's FGLG team has been instrumental in showing that charcoal production has a major role to play in development. Their landmark report published this year showed that this is Malawi’s most valuable sector after tea and tobacco, but with all 92,800 entrepreneurs involved currently classed as illegal improved policies are needed to make the sector sustainable.
Mr Bright Sibale, director of the Centre for Development Management is hosting the event in collaboration with Malawi’s Department of Forestry.
"Malawi's government recognises the role the forestry plays in the country’s economic and social development," says Sibale. "Yet forestry faces governance challenges and injustices that often originate from beyond the sector."
The sector is poorly funded, and there are high rates of deforestation due to weak enforcement of land and forest laws. Other problems include unjust farming practices and limited community rights of access and control.
"It will be important for Malawi to address these issues before we can achieve sustainable economic and social development as outlined in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy," adds Sibale. "The Forest Governance Learning Group is an ideal mechanism to address these cross-sectoral injustices, which have harmed the forestry sector over the past decade."
Malawi's FGLG has also been instrumental in assessing the opportunities and constraints facing four further forest enterprise sectors (timber, cane furniture, carving and tree fruit juices) and showed how improved forest governance can benefit communities — if they are empowered. Their report will be launched at the Zomba meeting.
"Many forest problems boil down to questions of injustice," says James Mayers, head of the Natural Resources Group at IIED which coordinates the FGLG. "More powerful interests manipulate the system at the expense of those who have the rights to access and the abilities to manage forests."
"The Forest Governance Learning Group has shown how these injustices can be worked on. It has even overturned some of them," adds Mayers. "As we meet in Malawi, governments are negotiating a global deal for forest-based climate strategies at the UN summit in Poland. Getting the basic building blocks of good forest governance right has never had more importance."
Mr Bright Sibale - +265 (0) 8839847 / +265 (0)9839847. email@example.com
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