“Invest in us for Sustainable Forests” say Community Forest Members, Indigenous Peoples and Smallholders from Asia

Local people from forest communities in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam and came together in Bangkok recently to discuss forest issues that are priorities for them and to prepare for the upcoming XIV World Forestry Congress. The Congress, which is the largest and most significant gathering of the world’s forestry sector, takes place in Durban, South Africa this September.

“As one of the few observers here, and being responsible for supporting smallholder certification, it was great to hear about the issues and priorities for Asian communities,” reported Richard Laity, PEFC South East Asia, Projects and Development Officer. “We want to ensure that certification is inclusive by working closely with these forest communities, while we develop national forest certification systems.”

“As PEFC history demonstrates, it has proven to work for smallholders, and as we expand into countries in Asia we want to make sure it continues to be a robust but cost-effective, appropriate and practical tool,” Mr. Laity concluded.

At the meeting, participants identified four priority areas, from local perspectives, that forest decision-makers must invest in for forests to be managed sustainably:
Participatory processes for policy and enabling regulatory framework development
Formalizing tenure rights and the establishment of community forests
Funds and resources for community forest implementation, and livelihoods/enterprise development
Capacity development for leadership empowerment, information access, network advocacy

Under the four areas, solutions and best practices were identified, along with specific actions and investments needed to scale these up – to be shared and influence forest decision-makers on the global level at the World Forestry Congress.

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