Smallholder and community forest management in the tropics: what we know and where we are going


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Communities now own or manage a quarter of the world’s tropical forests, but the case studies in this presentation illustrate the many key challenges remaining for smallholder and community forest management in the tropics. For example, the customary rights of smallholders and communities are still not properly recognised; there are discrepancies between the law and the reality in forest management and use; and there are difficulties in linking communities to markets.

CIFOR scientist Amy Duchelle explains how the smallholder and community forest management model came about, and where we need to go next. She gave this presentation on 16 June 2012 as part of the Forest Stewardship Council’s side event at Rio+20. She was answering the topic “Focussing on smallholders and forest communities: achievements and challenges at the local level”.

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Smallholder and community forest management in the tropics: what we know and where we are going

  1. Smallholder and community forest management in the tropics: what we know and where we are going Amy Duchelle, Peter Cronkleton, Marina Londres FSC Side Event, Rio+20, 16th June 2012THINKING beyond the canopy
  2. Why the community-based forest management model?Community-based forestry emerged in the 1970-1990s with goals ofecologically sustainable management, socioeconomic benefits, localaccess to resources (Charnley & Poe 2007)Model was a reaction to:- Government-led control over forest resources (with focus on industrial and commercial interests) – with degraded forests delegated to communities – and resulting struggles of forest peoples around the world to defend their forests and forest resources (Menzies 2007)- Mainstreaming of the idea of forest peoples as “stewards of biodiversity” and validation of their local environmental knowledge and collective institutions for resource management (Ostrom 1990, 1999; Berkes et al. 2000; Colchester 2008) THINKING beyond the canopy
  3. Who are the smallholders & communitiesmanaging forests and forest resources? Timber harvesters Charcoal producers NTFP collectors Agroforesters Fishermen Farmers Among many others… THINKING beyond the canopy
  4. Recent justifications for promotion of smallholder and community forestry• Devolution of forestlands (back) tocommunities: now own or manage ¼of world‟s tropical forests (White &Martin 2002; Sunderlin et al. 2008)• Evidence of forest conservation incommunity-managed forests (Bray etal. 2008; Nepstad et al. 2006; Porter-Bollandet al. 2012)• Tropical forests contribute ~20% ofthe income of the rural poor (Angelsenet al. forthcoming)• Successful links to externalgovernance systems and markets(certified CFEs) (Wiersum et al. 2011) THINKING beyond the canopy
  5. What does the community forestry model look like in policy?• Community Forest Enterprises in Mexico (1917 onwards)• Joint Forest Management in India (1988)• Extractive Reserves (and other sustainable use protected areas) in Brazil (1989)• Community Forest User Groups in Nepal (1993)• Community forest concessions in Petén, Guatemala (1994)• Social Forestry systems in Indonesia (1999) All of these models represent variations on co-management of forests by local people and the state, with widely differing degrees of actual management rights for smallholders and communities. THINKING beyond the canopy
  6. Case #1: Brazil nut in southwestern Amazon Acre, Brazil Madre de Dios, Peru Pando, Bolivia• Brazil nut trees (Bertholletia excelsa) are “forest giants” in mature, upland forests of the southwestern Amazon• Fruits collected ground during the rainy season (January – March)• Provide livelihood base for thousands of rural producers in the region (Duchelle et al. 2011) THINKING beyond the canopy
  7. Brazil nut policy vs. reality in Bolivia• 1996 Forestry Law and Agrarian Reform Law (=> devolution of rights from private estates to local communities)• 500 ha decree, which undercut the traditional tree tenure system and resulted in local conflicts (Cronkleton et al. 2010), including reported Brazil nut thefts by Cronkleton et al. 2010 members of the same community (Duchelle et al. 2011)• Bolivian technical norms for Brazil nut management (2005) require management plans and controversial “no-take zones” that have little to do with Brazil nut ecology or local practices (Guariguata et al. 2008)• Economic benefits of organic and Fair Trade certification; FSC certification has not gotten off the ground (Duchelle etTHINKING beyond the canopy al. forthcoming)
  8. Case #2: Community forestry concessions in Petén, Guatemala Radachowsky et al. 2012• 12 community concessions and 2 industrial concessions in Multiple-Use Zone of Guatemala‟s Maya Biosphere Reserve (created in 1990; concessions granted 1994-2000)• Concessions contingent on community organization, NGO accompaniment, and 3rd party certification within 3 years• Diversity in community concessions (residents with forest-based history vs. recent immigrants, non-residents)• FSC cert. of timber in all concessions M. Guariguata and xate palm (Chamaedorea spp) in several as of 2008 THINKING beyond the canopy
  9. Outcomes in the Petén (governance, ecological, socio-economic) Radachowsky et al. 2012Industrial concessions (2)• Strong governance reflecting well-developed model of private logging concessions; minimal deforestation and fire; financial profitability from timberNon-resident community concessions (6)• Strong governance - deliberately and voluntarily chose to work together; minimal deforestation and fire, income from timberResident community concessions with forest-based histories (2)• Weak governance (poor financial management, internal conflicts, heavy external support); minimal deforestation and fire, income from timber and xateResident community concessions comprised of recent immigrants (4)• Weak governance (low initial buy-in for forest management; 2/4 lost contracts & other 2 likely to fail, heavy internal conflicts); extremely high deforestation - cattle ranches; income from agriculture, cattle, timber THINKING beyond the canopy
  10. Cases illustrate key challenges• Lack of genuine devolution to smallholders and communitiesand recognition of customary rights (Larson et al. 2010)• Discrepancies between legality and smallholders‟ reality inforest management and land use (Cronkleton et al. 2010;Radachowsky et al. 2012)• Difficulties in linking communities to markets (Schmink 2004,Scherr et al. 2005); heavy subsidies associated with communityforest management (Humphries et al. 2012), „myth of self-financing‟(Radachowsky et al. 2012) THINKING beyond the canopy
  11. Where do we need to go? Acknowledge the achievements (incl. FSC support for smallholders) Harmonize forestry policies with local realities - recognize local management systems and genuinely devolve management authority to local people - reduce forest management bureaucracy (don‟t expect communities to act like companies) - minimize market externalities to increase return to local producers - improve dialogue between external actors and local resource users Rethink the model for smallholders and communities on the forest-farm interface - challenge our assumptions (types of forests and products used, local engagement in markets, decision making) THINKING beyond the canopy