Making change happen: what can governments do to strengthen forest producer organizations

Making change happen: what can governments do to strengthen forest producer organizations

The economic activities of forest communities and small forest producers are critical for local livelihoods, markets and development and for the future of the natural resources on which such activities are based. Communities and small forest producers control an increasing proportion of the world's forests, and their roles in reducing poverty, improving food security in rural areas and restoring and enhancing the sustainability of resource use are beginning to be recognized. Self-organization into forest producer organizations (FPOs) is emerging as an important means by which small and marginalized forest producers can improve their access to, and use of, investments, technology, inputs and markets. FPOs are also helping strengthen the capacity of forest producers to articulate their needs and interests, negotiate for improved policies, encourage stable domestic markets, and link with international processes such as Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade and REDD+.

Despite their importance and potential, however, FPOs face significant bureaucratic and other hurdles that, in many countries, are inhibiting their development. Th e Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF), Tropenbos International and the International Family Forestry Alliance (IFFA) are working to strengthen FPOs, including by supporting governments in improving policies, incentives, governance and legal and regulatory frameworks. Of particular interest is increasing the capacity of FPOs to organize themselves, facilitate better access to markets, knowledge and finance, and participate meaningfully in policy development.

This paper is a first step in a process to create enabling environments for FPOs worldwide. It focuses on what governments should and should not do to enable FPOs to form, thrive and create benefits for their members and the resources they manage. Further work is needed, including to increase understanding and knowledge sharing, build capacity, and stimulate dialogue, for example on the linkages between FPOs and major value-chains and on the explicit learnings and synergies that FPOs can find in the agricultural and other sectors.

 

 

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