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PROFOR's program on 'Understanding Forests’ Contribution to Poverty Reduction' is focused on generating knowledge on forests as pathways out of poverty. The research is designed to produce a number of outputs, including: (1) A knowledge review, focusing on synthesizing evidence on the impacts of forestry policies and programs on poverty reduction in evidence maps; (2) A conceptual framework on the potential pathways out of poverty; (3) A compendium of country case studies, providing information on various facets of the forest-poverty nexus; and (4) Dissemination and outreach targeted to specific internal and external users and audiences. In 2014 PROFOR supported activities in India and the Philippines that explored the contribution of forests towards poverty reduction. In 2015 it supported a similar activity assessing linkages between poverty and forest dependence in Turkey.
In general, the projects have better-equipped decision makers both within the Bank and in the project countries with knowledge, tools, and identification of potential actions. The stakeholders’ ability to develop inclusive forest policies and approaches has been strengthened because of the project.
The project in India circulated electronic copies of the report to the practice leaders, the country director, and the task team leaders of the ENR Global Practice. It also presented the findings in one knowledge exchange workshop in New Delhi. The synthesis report has clearly demonstrated to the Bank staff the dependence of poor rural families on forests and answered the challenge posed by the Country Director. As a result, of this “sensitization” the CD has created a space for forestry investments in the Bank’s lending pipeline and encouraged the Bank’s sector staff to develop new business in India. According to an interview with the TTL, this has been successfully achieved, as evidenced by two projects—Meghalaya forest project and an India forest-fires project. Additional requests from other State governments have been received by the Bank and are under consideration.
The project in the Philippines, which is still ongoing, has conducted a couple of regional dissemination workshops to share the results with local government units. Replication of ecosystems services schemes shows that local units have benefited from the regional dissemination workshops. The project, as yet, has not contributed towards policymaking, but that may change after the project team presents the results to policymakers. The team will be presenting the project results at the Forest Management Bureau Executive Committee and Foreign Assisted and Special Project Service sometime this year.
The project in Turkey has drawn upon the findings from the socio-economic survey to produce a forest policy note. This evidence-based knowledge product has started promoting a discussion in the DGF and that will likely result in policy reforms and investments in the sector. A knowledge management strategy is being designed in close consultation with the DGF, to reach out to a wider set of stakeholders. A Bank project, to support country efforts on job creation and development of livelihood activities, in the sector, is a likely outcome.
The knowledge generated by the projects has increased the understanding of forests’ contribution towards poverty reduction. However, there are no measurable changes in poverty reduction that can be directly attributed to the projects. It will all depend upon how far the project countries will go in terms of using the results, tools, and recommendations in carrying out policy reforms, improving forestry operations and encouraging investments in the sector.