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The overarching goal of this project is to support the World Bank Group's efforts to promote sustainable poverty reduction in forests and to work with governments and the international community to promote the use of forests and their resources to reduce poverty and boost shared prosperity.
While knowledge is increasing about forests as a source of day-to-day subsistence and as a safety net in times of need, much less is known about the extent to which forests can provide a pathway out of poverty. Currently, there is no systematic understanding of how forests may help the poor move out of chronic poverty and/or improve their current economic circumstance.
Knowledge gaps regarding the role of forests in poverty alleviation are often conceptual, but even more importantly, empirical. Frameworks such as those focusing on ecosystem services, or those elaborating different types of contributions of forests to human welfare can be used to structure analyses of forest-people linkages. But there are also critical knowledge gaps about forests as a source of employment and pathway out of poverty challenges in collecting relevant information on the contribution of forests to household well-being. Difficulties of measurement, valuation, and enumeration thwart efforts to capture this contribution. In particular, the remoteness of many poor, forest-reliant households and the length of time required to complete many surveys are barriers to collecting adequate information, which contributes to the lack of consolidated knowledge available on the linkage between forests and a pathway out of poverty.
This program employs four pillars that build on earlier efforts by PROFOR and other partners and aims to: (i) consolidate what is known about forest-poverty linkages, (ii) generate new knowledge on this interaction, (iii) improve how we measure household use and dependence of forests, and (iv) share these results with a broad set of policy makers and practitioners. The work will be conducted in close collaboration with an external reference group of advisory experts and key institutions that includes representatives from the organizations, such as the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF), the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), International Union of Forest Research (IUFRO), as well as universities, policy institutes, foundations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
With the four pillars guiding the work, the main program outputs will be the following:
(1) A knowledge review, focusing on synthesizing evidence on the impacts of forestry policies and programs on poverty reduction in evidence maps, and to explore this evidence in an in-depth knowledge review.
(2) A conceptual framework will be developed, including a common set of definitions and core forest-poverty linkages to be explored.
(3) Country studies, bringing together and consolidating already on-going projects. The program will serve to streamline these studies as far as possible, to maximize comparability and learning.
(4) Development and field testing of the Forest-SWIFT (formerly called forest-poverty app) in Tukey, Argentina, and Mozambique (tbc), building on ongoing work on the forestry module of the Living Standard Measurement Study (LSMS).
(5) Dissemination and outreach will be targeted to specific internal and external users and audiences, and will include setting up a reference group with external experts.
Last Updated : 07-30-2019
Over the past decade, commitments and support for Forest Landscape Restoration have grown significantly. As part of the Bonn Challenge, for instance, some 40 countries, sub-national jurisdictions, and non-governmental entities have now pledged to restore forest landscapes across 148 million hectares. Although the environmental benefits in terms of ecosystem services, soil restoration, water, biodiversity and climate resilience are evident, the tremendous economic arguments and the value proposition for poor people living in, or nearby, the forests, are not always at the forefront of the efforts to restore landscapes.
In fact, some 1.3 billion people around the world depend on forests for their livelihood—that is 20% of the global population. This includes income from the sale of trees and tree-related products. It also includes the value of fruit, fodder, medicines, and other direct or indirect products that they consume. However, the restoration of forest landscape at a global scale needs a new vision for an integrated forest economy which appreciates and understands forests along their entire value chain. Thus it is crucial to see forest landscape restoration efforts as much more than just protecting forests, but as a force for economic growth and poverty reduction.
Indeed, restoring forest landscapes could bring renewed economic opportunity, improved water supply, and climate resilience. IUCN estimates the annual net benefit of restoring 150 million hectares of land at approximately US$85 billion per year. In addition, such restoration would sequester massive amounts of greenhouse gases and go a long way towards stabilizing climate change at 2 degrees Celsius.
It is in this context that forest landscape restoration is receiving increasing attention due to a huge growth in demand for forest products and bioenergy around the world. A recent study undertaken in six tropical countries confirms the rapidly widening supply gap of harvested wood products and wood-based energy. PROFOR, with the support of its partners and donors, has translated this challenge into coherent regulatory and governance solutions that can support smallholders and small and medium forest enterprises, through land and forest tenure, new technology, adequate finance and market access.
If the ambitious scale for the global and national forest restoration targets is to be achieved, the economic arguments should be back at the center, along with the conservation ones. It is not just forests that matter. In most cases it will help to approach the challenges by looking at tree-based systems. Trees on farms are more widespread than mostly reported, and can provide substantial benefits.
A study in four sub-Saharan countries shows that one third of rural farms report growing trees and, on average, these farms are economically better off than those who don’t. The study also shows evidence that trees on farms can improve the productivity of landscapes. Trees on farms, however, are overlooked both by national agriculture and forest policies as they fall somehow in between these two camps. As a result, PROFOR is now preparing a new guidebook on how agricultural household services can systematically include tree relevant data.
Two other PROFOR studies try to understand the key factors driving the adoption of tree-based systems (TBS) at scale in Malawi and Rwanda, which result in improved soil fertility, higher crop yields, and increased agricultural production by helping control soil erosion, replenishing soil organic matter and nutrients, while diversifying income and building resilience to climate shocks.
In Malawi, tree-based systems have been widely promoted to help increase agricultural production among smallholder farmers who cannot afford to buy chemical fertilizers. Using conservative assumptions and estimates, the total savings from replacing subsidized fertilizer with fodder (Gliricidia) fertilizer is $45.98 per year per household. Assuming that more than 1,5 million households could potentially be reached, and that all of them adopt Gliricidia/maize intercropping systems, the potential total annual savings is estimated at $71 million per year.
In Rwanda, TBS in agricultural lands are widespread. For a country where most poor families live in rural areas, shows how the spread of tree-based systems could help farmers in boosting crop yields and diversifying their incomes. The adoption of TBS for the production of fruits, wood products, milk, soil erosion control, and soil fertility management has already led to higher incomes.
As more evidence starts to show not only the environmental benefits but also the economic ones, it will be important to look at tree-based economic systems in a more holistic way, systematically analyzing the regulatory, financial and technical assistance needs that small holders and small companies would need, not only during the planting process, but along the entire value chain.
These examples are evidence of the great environmental, economic and poverty reduction opportunities that forest landscape restoration can offer. They are also a reminder that when thinking of forests, we must not forget to see the economic value of trees.
Last Updated : 07-24-2017