Community forestry

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Children in a village, forest of Manuripi National Wildlife Reserve, Pando, Bolivia
© WWF-Canon / Eduardo RUIZ

A long-term approach to forest use and conservation

Small communities are often under great pressure to convert their forests or sell them to timber companies. Other times, their forest resources are just taken away from them.
There is an urgent need to raise communities’ awareness of the value of their forests, and give them the tools to manage them responsibly while still deriving income. WWF shows it can be done.

Forest exploitation is relatively straightforward. Choose the most economically valuable species, cut them down and sell them. Responsible forestry, on the other hand, requires more effort, but has the benefit of being a far-sighted approach, for both people and biodiversity.

What WWF does

In the Amazon, WWF provides communities with technical support to help them improve forest management. Part of the focus is on indigenous communities who are often vulnerable.

In the Bolivian Southwestern Amazon, WWF brings indigenous communities technical skills and helps them forge trade alliances with the corporate sector. There, WWF is continuing a forestry training programme which meets the management needs of more than 10 communities of the Guarayos, CIBAPA and Zapocó Indigenous Communal Lands (TCO in Spanish).

WWF-Bolivia also supported the certification of an indigenous land, Yuqui-CIRI along with USAID’s Sustainable Forest Management Project - Bolfor I, the Technical Forestry Center Foundation (CETEFOR) and the Forestry Formation and Environment Development Foundation (FUNDFORMA).

Financed by Groenhart and WWF, the project consists of gradually improving forest management to achieve sustainability and development of local capacities, and converting communities into forestry operators.

A closer look at training needs

WWF and its partners develop various training tools for communities on topics such as: elaboration of forestry maps, identification of natural regeneration, identification of commercial species, monitoring and evaluation of social impacts etc.

The 'how-to' guide to low impact harvesting

For example, one of the approaches of WWF-Bolivia is to improve local groups to practice low impact forest harvesting.

As part of this process, the Bajo Paraguá Indigenous Community (CIBAPA) carried out an intensive course on forestry management and low impact forestry harvesting with emphasis on directional felling, cross cut sawing, and skidding. The aim is to maximize production and minimize damage to the forest.

Helping States help communities

Sometimes, favourable government conditions exist which represent great opportunities to build upon.

Since 2000, Brazil's Acre state government - or "Governo da Floresta" (the Forest State) - has been committed to socio-economic development by promoting a forest-based economy. The state taxes forest conversion and therefore makes it less attractive. It also shares the benefits of natural resources with the whole Acrean civil society.

How WWF supports Acre State

WWF supports the Acre state government to consolidate community forestry for poverty alleviation, social inclusion and forest conservation, providing communities with the means to use natural resources sustainably.

In practical terms, WWF has helped by providing the local Forest Service Centre with basic infrastructure and equipment (e.g. computers, furniture, vehicles), while rural communication equipment (mobile phones with antennas) were installed in communities assisted by this project. Forest experts and training complemented the assistance package.

Next [Non-Timber Forest Products] >>

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