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Building Partnerships with Forest Communities

Indigenous and local communities, particularly in forest areas, are increasingly affected by environmental degradation and deforestation, which is often the result of unsustainable land use and global demand for commodities and mineral resources.A growing number of public and private actors and conservation NGOs, are setting up enterprises and cooperating with local or indigenous forest communities. Often, the main goal is to support socio-economic development without compromising the environment.

Being the owners and the primary users of forestland, local communities are indispensable in efforts to reverse deforestation and forest degradation. Partnerships with forest communities can support sustainable forest management and help to develop alternative livelihoods, for instance through the commercialization of non-timber forest products. Such an approach can promote a shift to more sustainable development pathways for local communities.

Partnerships with local communities look good on paper. Yet some raise concerns that they are unable to provide lasting solutions. Several studies express increasing concern that multi-actor collaboration in the tropics is falling short of expectations.

Recent growth in global initiatives and policy instruments, such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), highlight the importance of effective partnerships. These initiatives and policy instruments will rely, to some degree, on local actors to adjust forest use and support monitoring of forest areas to combat illegal logging, hunting, or conversion to other land uses.

On the basis of lessons learned from past projects, this policy brief compiles strategies for establishing effective partnerships with local communities who use or own forest land.

Local partnerships – key to zero net deforestation?

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