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New FAO report stresses importance of community-based forestry

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Tuesday stressed the importance of community-based forestry in promoting sustainable forest management, reducing poverty and generating jobs and income for rural communities.

A new report by the UN agency, which was launched Tuesday at the start of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Week, said that unlocking the true potential of community-based forestry will require greater support by governments through policy reforms and other measures, said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric at a daily news briefing here.

"The report also outlines a series of actions needed to make community-based forestry more effective, including providing communities with secure forest tenure, improving regulatory frameworks, and transferring appropriate and viable skills and technology," he said.

Under the approach, local communities partner with governments to play a lead role in making land-use decisions and managing the forestry resources they depend on for their livelihoods.

Yet in many cases, while in practice policies may exist for the decentralization and devolution of rights and responsibilities to communities, the right conditions may not yet be in place for them to fully exercise their rights.

The report outlined a series of actions needed to make community-based forestry more effective, including providing communities with secure forest tenure, improving regulatory frameworks, and transferring appropriate and viable skills and technology.

Access to markets and knowledge of market mechanisms are also essential if communities and smallholders are to commercialize their forest products, which can significantly contribute to poverty reduction, it said.

"Indigenous peoples, local communities and family smallholders stand ready to maintain and restore forests, respond to climate change, conserve biodiversity and sustain livelihoods on a vast scale", said Eva Muller, director of FAO's Forestry Policy and Resources Division. "What is missing in most cases is the political will to make it happen."

Muller suggested that political leaders and policy makers should open the door to unleash the potential of hundreds of millions of people to manage the forests on which the whole world depends for a better and sustainable future.

The report also cited a number of successful examples of community-based forestry from around the world.

The Asia-Pacific Forestry Week, scheduled for Feb. 22-26, is one of the largest and most important forestry events in the region, and the event has been co-organised by FAO and the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC) in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) of the Philippines.

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