World Growth’s Forestry and Poverty Project is a global advocacy project that aims to use sustainable forestry as a means to promote economic growth, reduce poverty and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
The Forestry and Poverty Project rests on four core values:
1. Forestry for Sustainable Development
Sustainable forestry and the development of sustainable forest plantations are the basis of a path to sustainable development that is both practical and achievable, particularly in developing countries.
2. Forestry for Climate Change Mitigation
The expansion of sustainable forestry and forest areas is a low-cost means of climate change mitigation for developing countries that does not threaten economic growth.
3. Forestry for Reducing Poverty
The expansion of sustainable forestry– from small-scale community harvesting to large-scale forest and plantation management – is a means to large-scale economic growth in developing countries, thereby reducing poverty and supporting livelihoods.
4. Forestry for Equity
The expansion of sustainable forestry for climate change mitigation and poverty reduction must be treated equally between nations, and must not be used as a tool for implementing political objectives that will threaten economic growth.
Forestry and Poverty
Forestry presents governments in developing countries significant opportunities and challenges. Forestry presents questions that affect economic growth, poverty reduction, property rights, governance, climate change and other environmental issues. Moreover, it presents a question of sovereignty: the right of each nation to use its resources to deliver the maximum benefits to its people.
Developing countries – particularly tropical countries – are home to the greatest forest resources on the planet. The livelihoods of millions of people are dependent upon the sustainable use of forest resources. For example, in Indonesia, forestry and related manufacturing industries directly contribute more than 5.5 per cent of GDP. The industry also employs more than 3 million people. In other countries – such as those in the forest-rich Congo Basin or the Amazon – the contribution of forestry to GDP is even higher.
World Growth believes that the global debate on forestry has been skewed away from economic issues. It has not fully taken into account the significant potential of forestry and forest industries to reduce poverty and promote economic growth. According to the FAO, forestry accounts for more than 3 per cent of global trade and directly employs more than 13 million people around the globe.
Yet for the developing world to build a forestry sector that can sustain livelihoods, the international community must accept that implementing developed-world land-use strategies is not always appropriate for countries where continued economic growth is vital to alleviating poverty.
Environmental protection is essential in developing countries, particularly when developing economies are heavily based on natural resource extraction.
But the need for robust environmental management does not mean that development in industries such as forestry should be spurned – quite the opposite. An increase in forestry income means greater resources devoted to environmental management.
As the FAO has stated:
“A reduction in the forest industry and the benefits it provides would almost inevitably be paralleled by a decrease in the resources dedicated to forest conservation and management. This would also result in the slowing down of development, aggravating the poverty of forest-dependent communities and other vulnerable rural groups and forcing them into wasteful, unplanned depletion of forest resources in a struggle to improve their existence.”
This was shown to be the case during the Asian Financial Crisis more than a decade ago, the impact on household incomes had a negative impact upon deforestation. Why? Reduced investment in the forestry sector and increased unemployment prompted land-clearing for slash-and-burn agriculture and unmanaged timber harvesting.
Indeed, in a number of countries, high levels of deforestation can be attributed directly to dependence upon subsistence land-use practices. For example, according to the FAO, more than 75 per cent of all timber removals in Papua New Guinea are for fuel wood use – not for industrial use. This is very much contrary commonly held perceptions.
The belief of World Growth is that support for the environment goes hand-in-hand with both an expanded forestry sector and poverty alleviation. We believe a robust forestry industry provides the best form of environmental stewardship that can support and protect the environment for future generations to come.