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"Forest-smart" describes a development approach that recognizes forests’ significance for sustaining growth across many sectors, including agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and water. It is sustainable and inclusive in nature, emphasizing that forests are part of a broader landscape and that changes in forest cover affect other land uses as well as the people living in that landscape. It transforms how sectors operate by identifying opportunities for mutual benefit and creating practical solutions that can be implemented at scale.
Forest-smart realizes the importance of forests for the rural poor and forest-dependent communities. In developing countries, rural communities with access to forests derive as much as 22 percent of their income from forests; as an income source, this is second only to crops. About half of that income is in non-cash form—food, fuel, fodder, and construction materials. PROFOR’s forests and poverty program provides tools for documenting how forests sustain the rural poor, to understand how forests can not only contribute to alleviating poverty but also provide a pathway out of poverty.
Forest-smart delivers win-win solutions across sectors so that forests can support development outcomes in other sectors, and investments in those sectors can contribute to positive forest outcomes or minimize adverse impacts on forests. For example, green infrastructure like mangroves protects against hurricanes, flooding, and coastal erosion while also benefiting fisheries and tourism that generate local jobs. In Jamaica, PROFOR is informing national planning for disaster risk management through guidelines and economic analysis for such nature-based solutions.
Innovation and shifting mindsets within extractive industries are changing how forests are perceived around mining sites, with new interest in resource corridor planning to minimize the mining footprint, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and restore mine sites into productive ecosystems. PROFOR’s forest-smart mining program is advancing understanding of how to implement new practices. Tools such as the Biodiversity Offset User Guide are facilitating national-level planning around extractive activities to optimize biodiversity conservation.
In sum, forest smart delivers climate benefits in addition to development benefits. Introducing trees onto farms to improve crop yields, incorporating tree planting into infrastructure investments, or restoring forests to protect watersheds also generates carbon mitigation benefits and builds resilience. PROFOR is strengthening knowledge of how to encourage at-scale adoption of trees on farms for increased food security and climate resilience.
Across the world, countries are increasingly interested in forest-smart development. There is growing demand for new mechanisms to understand the dynamics between various land uses and to identify integrated solutions to manage trade-offs at the landscape level. PROFOR knowledge and tools are advancing integrated land use planning processes and integrated sector approaches in Indonesia, Madagascar, Mexico, Mozambique, the Philippines, and Tunisia.
This report highlights how PROFOR is helping countries get forest smart through its programs, tools, and approaches.