5 years ago

Forest Restoration in Landscapes

Forest Restoration in Landscapes

26 M. Hobley forest

26 M. Hobley forest change can be devastating, whereas for others with a broader livelihood portfolio that includes only limited dependence on the forests, changes in forest quality and extent may only have relatively minor effects. In such cases, responses to forest restoration will also be different between individual households in a community. The importance of a broad-based and carefully structured participatory process, linked to social mobilisation and including attempts to build the capacity of different social groups to have a voice, cannot be underestimated. For some of the poorest rural peoples there is extreme forest dependence, but for others who are not so poor (the “coping” poor), the use of forests is indirect and more often is a means of poverty prevention, providing important seasonal safety nets.This latter role is often transitory as poor people build other assets to move out of poverty. It is rarely the case that forests themselves are the means to poverty reduction. However, what happens to the forests, their products and services, does have a profound impact on people’s livelihoods, particularly when this is linked with the effects on other land uses such as grazing and agriculture. Risk and uncertainty are universal characteristics of life in rural areas. Sources of risk include natural hazards like drought and flood, commodity price fluctuations, illness and death, changing social relationships, unstable governments, and armed conflicts. Some risky events like drought or flood simultaneously affect many households in a community or region. Other risky events, like illnesses, are householdspecific and again have differential effects depending on the overall robustness of a particular household and its livelihood strategies. Catastrophic forest loss, for example through fire or clear-felling, thus affects whole communities, but the intensity of the effects are not necessarily uniform. It is not only total forest loss that leads to negative impacts on well-being. For example, loss of particular nontimber forest products (NTFPs) from a surviving forest can be equally catastrophic to those households who have based their livelihoods around the use and sale of these products. Changes in market condi- tions, including in particular the recognition of the value of an NTFP on national and international markets, can disadvantage the very poor as the elites seize control of valuable natural resources and dominate market access. 1.2. Implications of Differential Social Impacts for Forest Restoration 1.2.1. Guiding Questions for Restoration Forests can affect livelihoods in two principal ways that must be considered when any landscape restoration is under consideration39 : • Poverty avoidance or mitigation, that is, where forest resources serve a safety net function, or as a gap filler, including as a source of petty cash • Poverty elimination, that is, where forest resources help lift a household out of poverty by functioning as a source of savings, investment, accumulation, asset building, and permanent increases in wealth and income When restoration is planned to ameliorate the impacts of forest changes on the well-being of target groups a set of questions can help to guide responses as to the nature and extent of restoration required. 40 The usefulness of such questions depends to a large extent on the way in which they are asked. It is important to use participatory processes that lead to people being able to influence decisions about land use and control the outcomes of these decisions, but processes must also allow space for the voices of the extreme poor to be heard as well as those of the more articulate and much less vulnerable poor and wealthier groups: What is the frequency or timing of use of forest products and the extent to which a household’s labour is allocated to these activities? What is the role of forest products in household livelihood systems? What is their importance as a share of household inputs, and in 39 Sunderlin et al, 2004:1. 40 Byron and Arnold, 1997.

meeting household livelihood strategy objectives? What is the impact of reduced access to forests? Does the forest serve as a (critical) economic and ecological buffer for its users, or are there alternatives, such as trees outside forests or non–forest/tree sources of needed inputs and income? What is the likely future importance of forest products? Do users face a growing or declining demand for forest products, or the potential for expanded or decreased involvement in production and trade in forest products? 2. Examples Undoubtedly forest degradation and loss has major livelihood and well-being impacts for many people, from those with secure livelihoods to the extreme poor. It is therefore particularly important to understand the differential effects of forest change and the implications for livelihoods and livelihood options. Byron and Arnold41 provide a useful categorisation that aids this understanding and directs practical intervention. Clearly there is no general solution that can be applied across all situations. Any support to forest landscape restoration must be based on a careful assessment that “covers the range of the relationships between the people and the forests which they use and/or manage, the current limitations to their livelihoods, and the potentials and desires for change.” They outline five generalised (and potentially overlapping) situations: 1. Forests continue to be central to livelihood systems. Local people are or should be the principal stakeholders in these forest areas. Meeting their needs is likely to be the principal objective of forest management and restoration, and this should be reflected in control and tenure arrangements (also see “Land Ownership and Forest Restoration”). 2. Forest products play an important supplementary and safety net role. Users need security 4. The Impacts of Degradation and Forest Loss on Human Well-Being 27 of access to the resources from which they source these products, but are often not the only users in that forest area. Forest management and control is likely to be best based on resource-sharing arrangements among several stakeholder groups. Successful restoration activities need to recognise and be planned with respect to these roles. Examples across the world include joint forest management in India and collaborative management in Ghana, where the state and local forest users share both in management decisions and in the benefits of forest products, which provide incentives to both partners to manage the forests for a range of benefits. However, in many cases the state is still reluctant to allow these agreements to cover high value forests, retaining control and access to the benefits and restricting local access to the forests and its products. 42 Community forestry in the hills of Nepal is widely cited as a successful example of transfer of control of management and benefits to local communities; again, however, the government has demonstrated its reluctance to extend management authority to the high value forests of the lowlands. 3. Forest products play an important role but are more effectively supplied from nonforest sources. Management of a proportion of the forests needs to be geared towards agro-forest structures, and control and tenure need to be consistent with the individual rather than the collective forms of governance that this shift is likely to require. Examples of these situations abound: PASOLAC (Programa para la Agricultura Sostenible en las Laderas de América Central) in Central America has been working with communities living in areas of high environmental degradation and insecurity to reduce their vulnerability to extreme natural events. This programme supports farmers to identify their own training requirements, provides financial and in-kind compensation for the management and maintenance of natural resources and their services and works to develop the integration of farmers and forest products into local markets. This integrated 41 Byron and Arnold, 1997. 42 Arnold, 2001; Molnar et al, 2004.

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