“If local and indigenous communities in the Congo Basin are enabled to take over management, it has the potential to restore forests, conserve biodiversity, combat illegal logging, address climate change and secure sustainable livelihoods.”
When we talk of community forestry, we mean giving communities control over the forest resources they depend on for their survival, so they can manage them responsibly and inclusively.
Millions of people in developing countries depend on forests for their survival, but many lack secure access to and control over forest resources. NGOs and civil society have a crucial role to play in empowering rural communities and helping to improve the livelihoods of forest peoples, including women through community-based management of forests.
In regions like the Congo Basin – which is full of breath-taking biodiversity, and alongside the Amazon is one of the planet’s lungs – communities have protected forests for generations, but they are now being pushed out of those ancestral lands.
The European Union has been working hard to tackle illegal imports of timber with the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) which improves the way forests are managed and contributes to the legal timber trade.
VPAs have helped community forestry to develop, but more is needed. Communities don’t just need a say in how forests are managed, they also need real land rights.
CoNGOs project: Empowering communities, securing sustainable livelihoods
The project had many successes in each of these areas, for example it led to several dialogues on community forestry between governments and EU institutions and civil society and communities.