Adapting Forest Policies to Poverty Alleviation Strategies in Asia and the Pacific
Project title: Making forestry work for the poor: Adapting Forest policies to poverty alleviation strategies in Asia and the Pacific
Executing Agency: Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO/RAP)
Budget in USD (APFNet grant): 337,236
Duration: 3/2010 – 12/2011
Project Category: Research and Policy Development Project
Target economies: Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam

The project aims to assist forestry agencies in strategic planning and developing means to reduce poverty through sustainable forest management and forest rehabilitation.

1. To draw together ways poverty has been effectively reduced in South and Southeast Asian developing countries- Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos PDR, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.
2. To build capacity within forestry agencies and local NGOs through engagement in the assessment of past efforts to reduce poverty through forestry.
3. To distribute findings to an Asia-Pacific audience and increase awareness of effective means to adapt forest policies in poverty alleviation strategies.

Output 1: Report documenting ways in which poverty has been reduced through forestry in the targeted developing countries.
Output 2: To strengthen the capacity within forestry agencies and local NGOs for strategic planning and for integrating poverty alleviation measures in forestry policy.
Output 3: To increase awareness of means to adapt forest policies to poverty alleviation strategies.

Activity 1.1: Conduct country studies to assess the contribution of forestry to poverty alleviation in the targeted countries.
Activity 2.1: Implement the regional workshop on strategic planning in forestry
Activity 2.2: Twelve participants from target countries trained in forest policy analysis.
Activity 2.3: Implement the economy-level forest planning workshops.
Activity 3.1: Synthesizing key project findings into eight policy briefs aimed at supporting forest policy adaptation to reduce poverty in target countries.
Activity 3.2: Print and distribute policy briefs to economy-level and regional policymakers, agencies, and organizations influencing policy processes.

Project background
Since the launch of the Millennium Development Goals over a decade ago, efforts have been made around the world to improve the contribution of different economic sectors to poverty reduction. Forestry is a particularly important sector due to the substantial overlap between highly forested areas and areas with a high incidence of poverty in South and Southeast Asia. Commercial aspects of forestry such as collection, processing, and marketing of non-wood forest products, use of stumps and branches of trees left after industrial logging, and ecotourism activities can provide income for the rural poor. The potential of the forestry sector to contribute to the welfare of the rural poor should be considered. However, the implementation of a system for reducing poverty through forestry in rural areas may require investment, review of the regulatory environment, policy support, and capacity building in different measures. This project was implemented under the technical and administrative supervision of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The target groups of this project included government forest agencies in the eleven target countries whose needs and constraints are primarily related to low capacity and lack of experience in implementing sustainable forest management (SFM). The final beneficiaries included forest-dependent communities and forest user groups who are often constrained by poverty in decisions regarding deforestation and degradation. The project aimed to address the needs and constraints of the target groups by providing information, training, and technical support while facilitating communication with key forest stakeholders in forest-related sectors.
Fig.1 Croplands on sloping areas that were afforested under the Conversion of Croplands to Forests Program (left) and
a newly established oil-tea camellia plantation (right) in Qinghai Province, China
Project featured topics
Assessment of the contribution of forestry to poverty alleviation in Asia and the Pacific
To assess the contribution of the forestry sector to poverty alleviation in Asia and the Pacific, a field survey was conducted in the targeted economies with the agreed methods. The questionnaire for the field survey covered the following topics: 1) to assess forest policy, economy-level growth, and poverty reduction strategy for inclusion of measures linking forestry and poverty alleviation, 2) to conduct a review of available information to assess the status and trends in the contribution of forestry and poverty alleviation and recent efforts to increase the contribution of forestry to poverty reduction (the review covered different areas of forestry, e.g. traditional forestry, community forestry, commercial forestry, industrial forestry and new areas such as bio-energy, payment for environmental services (PES) and carbon payment), and 3) to undertake interviews with in-country experts (forestry agencies, universities, NGOs, civil society organizations) on forestry and poverty alleviation to further assess their interrelation.
Commercial Forestry and Industrial Forestry
The forestry industry is one of the important components of China’s economy and it plays a very important and distinct role in creating employment for farmers, increasing their income, and boosting the rural economy. According to the estimation of the State Forestry Administration (SFA), the forestry industry has created job opportunities for 45 million people, which can accommodate 37.5% of the total rural labour surplus. Fig.2 shows villagers who are working in small-scale wood processing shops in Guangxi province, China.
Fig.2 Small family-owned wood processing shop that employs some villagers in Guangxi Province, China
Community Forestry
Community forestry is increasingly recognized as an effective tool for forest management, resource distribution, and community development. Fig.3 shows a well-managed sal (Shorea robusta) forest of the Basanta Hariyali Community Forest Users Group-CFUG in Dang District which is a source of fodder, grass, fuelwood, timber, and other non-wood forest products.
Fig.3 Well-managed shorea spp. forest of the Basanta Hariyali CFUG in Dang District, Nepal

Project outcomes
The project supported the development of forestry to reduce poverty in the targeted developing economies. According to regional studies, the forestry sector has a significant contribution to reducing poverty in the targeted economies. However, the level of contribution varies across sites and forest program modalities and the type of valuation methods used. Even though the forestry sector alone is not enough to lift all people out of poverty, it can contribute considerably to supporting rural, poor people to mitigate their plight as well as providing a safety net to poor households with subsistence needs of fodder, firewood, and NTFPs.  As shown in Fig.4, rural households collected fuelwood from forests and fuelwood is the major source of energy in the rural area.

Fig.4 Fuel wood collection from forests in Tham Village, Chieng Sinh Commune, Son La Province, Viet Nam


FAO and Asia Forest Network (AFN) collaborated in running the regional workshop on “Assessment of the contribution of forestry to poverty alleviation in Asia and the Pacific”. There were 29 participants, comprising all contracted consultants and Forest Department representatives together with the three partners involved (APFNet, AFN, and FAO). During the workshop, the participants shared and exchanged regional and country developments and situations on poverty alleviation and the forestry sector and discussed the methodology for the conduct of case studies and results in the dissemination activity.

Then, the projects implemented two forest policy short courses – Third Executive Forest Policy Short Course and Fifth Executive Forest Policy Short Course.  The third course, conducted in Thailand, incorporated lessons learned from the earlier first and second courses and focused on “Enhancing Forest Policy in the Greater Mekong Subregion” (Fig.5). Target groups for this course included mid-to-upper-level professionals from the public, private sector, and civil society working on forestry or natural resource management issues in the Greater Mekong Subregion. The fourth course was held in Bangkok and represented the first effort to adapt the regional format to the needs of participants from one country (Vietnam). Following the success of earlier versions of the short course, the fifth Executive Forest Policy Short course was held in Beijing, in collaboration with the State Academy of Forest Administration (STAFA). The objective of this course was to train Chinese forestry officers, policymakers, trainers, and practitioners in policy analysis and development to address the new challenges for forest policymaking, arising from rapidly changing conditions and expectations.
Fig.5 Third Executive Forest Policy Short Course in Thailand
Eight forest policy briefs covering the Asia-Pacific region to increase awareness of effective means to adapt forest policies to poverty alleviation strategies were developed as follows:
1) Forests for a greener future
2) Back to basics: field-level forestry
3) The forest biodiversity challenging
4) Reinventing forest policies and institutions
5) Learning for the future: forestry training and education
6) Better governance, better forestry
7) Making forestry work for the poor
8) Forests and gender in a changing environment

Among them, forest policy brief No.7 on “Making forestry work for the poor: adapting forest policies to poverty alleviation strategies in Asia and the Pacific” was funded by this project and based on the results of the assessment of the contribution of forestry to poverty alleviation. The contribution of forests and forestry to poverty alleviation was assessed in terms of three broad areas of forestry: community forestry, commercial and industrial forestry, and payments for environmental services (including carbon payments). These three areas offer varying levels of opportunity and potential concerning poverty reduction. Depending on the development of the economy and forestry-related priorities, focusing on different areas may be appropriate. To improve the contribution of forestry to poverty eradication, and not simply poverty mitigation, four priority actions for the three areas of forestry are identified as fundamental prerequisites necessary to expand benefits for the poor:
1. To allocate clear and secure forest tenure and forest management rights over productive, good-quality forests to poor people and local communities.
2. To build capacity for individuals, families, and communities to develop the skills necessary to sustainably manage forests and derive economic benefits.
3. To support the development of economically viable and environmentally sustainable community enterprises and small and medium forestry enterprises (SMFEs).
4. To ensure equitable sharing of benefits from community forestry initiatives, large-scale forestry activities, PES schemes, and REDD+ projects.

 Project documents
Project proposal
Completion report

 News and related information
Making Forestry Work for the Poor Adapting Forest Policies  

Making Forestry Work for the Poor:Assessment of the Contribution of Forestry to Poverty Alleviation in Asia and the Pacific
Assessment of the contribution of forestry to poverty alleviation in Asia and the Pacific 

Compilation of all Forest Policy Briefs: Asia-Pacific Forests and Forestry to 2020: Forest Policy Brief 1-8

Forest Policy Brief 1: Forests for a greener future
Forest Policy Brief 2: Back to basics: field-level forestry
Forest Policy Brief 3: The forest biodiversity challenge
Forest Policy Brief 4: Reinventing forest policies and institutions 
Forest Policy Brief 5: Learning for the future: forestry training and education
Forest Policy Brief 6: Better governance, better forestry
Forest Policy Brief 7: Making forestry work for the poor
Forest Policy Brief 8: Forests and gender in a changing environment