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People and forests trajectory

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Presentation from IUFRO World congress 2014: People and forests trajectory.

Forestry researchers are taking serious notice of the impacts of forests on people, and people on forests. Encouraging examples include attention to human well-being, attempts to work collaboratively with communities and their subgroups, a focus on power relations (devolution, ethnic and gender studies), and attention to people’s knowledge about forests. More controversial topics like swidden agriculture, human health, nutrition, human rights and population have also been addressed. But much remains to be done.

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People and forests trajectory

  1. 1. Overview  Early days of attention to people in forests  Rare but encouraging recent examples – toward sustainability  Importance of addressing gender  Some methodological considerations  Concluding with ‘why bother?’ [Photos by Colfer & Anastasia Widyaningsih]
  2. 2. World Forestry Congress Trajectory  1978 – 8th World Forestry Congress in Jakarta, Indonesia – ‘Forests for People’ – a first  1985 – 9th WFC, youth added  1991 - 10th WFC, ‘forest heritage’ added
  3. 3. A New Era: Aiming for Broader Sustainability By 2003 - 12th WFC, included three main themes: • Forests for people • Forests for the planet • People and forests in harmony  For 2015: Forests and People: Investing in a Sustainable Future
  4. 4. CIFOR Trajectory: Sadly, an Atypical Example Started in 1993, CIFOR began with several important commitments: • Policy-oriented • Interdisciplinary teamwork • Research at all scales (int’l to field-based) • Addressing both human and ecological, as well as strictly forest concerns
  5. 5. Sample ‘People-Forests Research’ from CIFOR & its Partners (1) Attention to human well being • criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management • poverty and environment network Working collaboratively with communities and their subgroups  adaptive collaborative management of forests  Some REDD+ work
  6. 6. Working with Women
  7. 7. Sample ‘People-Forests Research’ from CIFOR & its Partners (2) Attention to people’s knowledge about forests  indigenous knowledge (IK, ITK, IEK, etc.)  non timber forest products A focus on power relations  ethnic and gender studies  decentralization and devolution studies
  8. 8. Involving Officials
  9. 9. A More Controversial Set From CIFOR & Partners Swidden agriculture – as a complex and sometimes sustainable system Human health – looking at the interactions with forests and their management Nutrition – identifying nutritional implications of forest use and management Population – Recognizing the key roles birth control can play in life chances
  10. 10. But attention to these issues has NOT been typical Most forestry institutions still have:  Little or no community experience or training  Single-minded concentration on timber (no NTFPs or biodiversity)  No social scientists  Even antagonism to local people (‘poachers’, ‘slash and burn farmers’, ‘illegal loggers’)
  11. 11. And What Results Have we Attained?  Forests remain in decline  Human well being has hardly improved  Benefits continue to be inequitably distributed Truly sustainable forest management remains a chimera
  12. 12. Women and Forests Despite evidence of women’s involvement in forests, women remain relatively invisible to the forestry world (despite encouraging signs). We have been ignoring the potential contribution of half the world’s population.
  13. 13. Versus Gender and Forests Looking at women alone is not enough (cf. little success integrating new findings) We need to look at • the relations between men and women And  topics that have seemed taboo
  14. 14. Elephant in the Room No. 1 Population  Local population growth is a big problem for forests  women without access to birth control, have limited options [A rare win-win issue]
  15. 15. Elephant in the Room No. 2 “Engaging men in care-giving … is nothing less than a fundamental reworking of our work–life balance and our beliefs in the purpose of our lives and relationships.” [Gary Barker 2014] The ‘Domestic’ (Reproductive) If women enter new fields their existing work must be reduced by men’s greater involvement at home
  16. 16. Elephant in the Room No. 3 Violence against women  Women who are routinely subjected to violence --- or even who witness such violence --- dare not move outside their (and their spouses’) comfort zones.
  17. 17. So How do we Incorporate Gender considerations in our Work?
  18. 18. Methodologically Complex Topics Not subject to conventional experimental designs, but they are studied by social scientists: • Culture – a complex whole (knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and other learned capabilities and habits, Tylor 1871) • Norms - a standard or pattern, especially of social behavior, that is typical or expected of a group. • Values - a person's principles or standards of behavior; one's judgment of what is important in life.
  19. 19. Examples 1 & 2 A variety of site-specific and intangible, but powerful cultural topics (e.g., from ongoing governance work in Sulawesi): • Bugis-Makassar: concept of ‘honor’ has powerful inhibiting effects on behaviour… Δ Reducing women’s forest options. • Makassar & Tolaki: women, rather than men, are accepted as the legitimate managers of household income. Δ Women have cash to invest (in forests?).
  20. 20. Examples 3 & 4 • Women speak up publicly to varying degrees, but some groups report near gender equality. Δ Women may have unrecognized power.  Tolaki: These ‘primitive’ people manifest a strong sense of everyone’s right to be involved in decision-making. Δ The people could provide a more gender-equitable example for managing forests democratically.
  21. 21. Why should forest researchers venture into such topics? To Enhance Sustainability
  22. 22. By What Means? In What Ways?  Ensuring that we ‘do no harm’  Strengthening people’s motivation to maintain/improve forests by ensuring more equitable distribution of benefits  Catalyzing the creativity (‘power to’) of all affected people in better forest management
  23. 23. Useful Approaches to Add (1)  Conventional academic studies – though reliable, often couched in alien jargon and requiring more time  Participatory Rural Appraisal – though good for exposing policymakers to rural realities, can provide misleading results
  24. 24. Useful Approaches to add (2)  Ethnographic approaches---by those trained in the method--- allow researchers to gain holistic, reliable information on such topics  Participatory approaches---by those so trained---allow researchers to learn and build on the goals, interests, knowledge and capabilities of community partners
  25. 25. In Conclusion – In Search of Sustainability We have much work to do  Assumptions about men and women to overcome  Information to gather and analyze (focused and holistic)  Thinking about how to integrate what we learn into our ongoing forest management
  26. 26. Where now arbitrary and culturally prescribed gender roles have inordinate power to determine---and preclude---life chances for both men and women.
  27. 27. We can and should work toward a forest world in which women’s and men’s strengths, interests and voices can structure their own lives and their interactions with forest landscapes.
  28. 28. The result should be worth the effort!

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