Administrateur Communale meeting the Batwa in Mututu

Under pressure

February 2010. Forests are under the spotlight as never before. They are globally important in regulating climate and locally important in sustaining communities and supporting biodiversity. But with unsustainable logging and agriculture and biofuel expansion competing for forested lands, forests and the people who depend on them are under increasing pressure.

There is growing recognition of the role of forests in storing carbon and the emerging approach of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) is gaining acceptance at the international level. The challenge now is to make it a reality on the ground and ensure that it delivers benefits to both people and biodiversity.

REDD, as with all other efforts to restore the world’s forests, needs to respond to social and economic realities. Restoration projects must be designed with a full understanding of the many perspectives that exist, from the local villager to the head of a multinational timber company, and that there will be certain trade-offs.
 
For many years, IUCN has been learning from experience about how to negotiate a balance between human and environmental needs and these lessons are being fed into national and international policy. One of its key initiatives is Livelihoods and Landscapes through which dozens of projects are underway across Africa, Asia and South America. The aim is to sustain the flow of goods and services from forest landscapes for the benefit of local livelihoods and biodiversity conservation. Lessons from Livelihoods and Landscapes are feeding into the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration, of which IUCN is a key partner.

IUCN is central to an emerging initiative called Growing Forest Partnerships (GFP). Funded by the World Bank, this supports partnerships and initiatives developed by forest-dependent people and those who use, manage or regulate forests. Around the world, local people, governments, businesses and local organizations are finding fruitful ways of working together but big challenges remain: Local and indigenous communities are marginalized in decisions over natural resource use; large organisations working on forest conservation struggle to co-ordinate their joint work; while smallholders and forest communities often lack clear land rights and access to markets.

In response GFP is establishing a wider platform for civil society dialogue involving the various stakeholders about the approach toward developing forestry policy at the national and local levels. Using this partnership and dialogue approach allows IUCN and its partners to tackle the root causes of the world’s most pressing issues, including poverty, biodiversity loss and climate change.

This month’s focus is on the efforts being made by IUCN in the area of forest conservation and restoration and some of the concrete results that are emerging.
 


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