The poverty reduction and mitigation potential of forests is often less appreciated than it should be. There is a need to document projects that clearly demonstrate the links that exist between forest conservation and poverty reduction and bring it to the attention of key policy makers and economic planners, both within and outside the forest sector, so that forest conservation activities can be integrated into mainstream national-level poverty reduction processes.
The vision of our poverty work revolves around the fundamental understanding that -
“Poverty cannot be alleviated unless additional assets are made available to forest dependent communities”
“Additional assets” include better road networks, basic health care, primary education, reliable market access, and potable drinking water. While pro-poor conservation and sustainable use programmes will often not be enough to lift people out of poverty by themselves, they can still make an important, immediate and cost effective contribution to national poverty alleviation strategies while other assets are being put in place. The experience of the Forest Conservation Programme is that where poor people are given real decision-making authority over natural resources, even badly degraded ones, they can help turn these into productive and biologically rich assets.