Bangkok, Thailand – RECOFTC – The Center for People and Forests and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) have helped the Lao PDR office of Stora Enso, a global private sector paper company, better engage with local communities.
Stora Enso in Lao PDR is investing in agro-forestry models – a land-use management system that combines agricultural and forestry technologies to create more diverse, productive, profitable and sustainable land-use systems – in partnership with local communities in Savannakhet, Lao PDR. To ensure that the company engages effectively with the local people, RECOFTC, in partnership with PEFC, has delivered capacity development activities for the company’s staff and the local stakeholders.
Over a ten-day training program during 2-13 October 2015, RECOFTC led a class room training and study tour for Stora Enso staff in Savannakhet, Lao PDR and Srakaew, Thailand. The aim of the training and study tour was to improve the capacities of staff in terms of participatory communication, Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), transforming forest conflict, value chain development and forest certification.
“The training and study tour program helped me see that participatory approaches foster mutual learning and different viewpoints, thus allowing communities to be better supported,” said Thienthong Tansoukhang of Forestry Management Information Systems of Burapha, a sister company of Stora Enso in Lao PDR.
Investing in the development of agro-forestry models in partnership with communities plays an important role in improving the livelihoods of local people. RECOFTC, a member of PEFC, a certification body that promotes local ownership in the development of standards for sustainable forest management and trade, aims to influence the standards being developed to ensure that local communities benefit from such standards.
“Stora Enso holds a key approach in implementing agro-forestry, ensuring appropriate consultations with local people,” said Martin Greijmans, Senior Program Officer, Enhancing Livelihoods and Markets, RECOFTC. “The company aims to benefit both the company and local communities.”
Over the course of the ten-day program, the overwhelming conclusion participants reached was that without including local people in the development process and without communicating with them effectively, a successful agro-forestry model cannot be developed. As Xaybouasone Phakhanthong, Regional Assistant and Translator for Stora Enso in Lao PDR put it, “Everything begins with effective communication.”