PRESS RELEASE: Community forest members, indigenous peoples and smallholders from Asia gather in Bangkok to ensure their views are heard in the XIV World Forestry Congress

Bangkok, Thailand – From 8-10 July, community forest members, indigenous peoples and smallholders from Asia’s forests are gathering in Bangkok for The pre-World Forestry Congress regional meeting on people and forests: Investing in local communities for sustainable forests. The regional meeting will ensure that local community voices are heard at the upcoming XIV World Forestry Congress, the largest and most significant gathering of the world's forestry sector, set to take place in Durban, South Africa in September 2015.

“We need to invest in local people if we truly want to sustain Asia’s forests,” says Dr Tint Lwin Thaung, Executive Director, RECOFTC – The Center for People and Forests. “With over 450 million local people in the Asia-Pacific region alone relying on forests for their livelihoods, local people must participate in forest decision-making.”

“The theme of the XIV World Forestry Congress is Forests and People: Investing in a Sustainable Future. The Congress will show that investment in forestry is an investment in people and, in turn, an investment in national economies and sustainable development,” says Mr Trevor Abrahams, Secretary General of the XIV World Forestry Congress. Mr Abrahams will open the meeting in Bangkok on 8 July.

The main participants of the meeting are more than 20 smallholders, indigenous peoples and community forestry members from Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Thailand and Nepal. These local community members will come together and discuss forest issues that are priorities for them, recognizing that their management of their forests is of benefit on local, national and global levels. Representatives of civil society, NGOs, the UN, government and media will also participate in the meeting to find ways to support the visions of these local communities.

The XIV World Forestry Congress of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) will be held 7–11 September 2015, in Durban, South Africa. The WFC will be a key occasion for the world’s foresters and forest supporters to gather, to share their expertise and experience, and to project a new vision for the future of forests and forestry.

For more information:

Caroline Liou, Communication Manager, RECOFTC – The Center for People and Forests, tel +66 (0)2-940-5700 x1236, mobile +66 (0)86 067 3228,

Shigeto Ikeda, Programme Officer (XIV World Forestry Congress) Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, tel +66-2-697-4151,

Notes to editors:

• For more information on The pre-World Forestry Congress regional meeting on people and forests: Investing in local communities for sustainable forests, see

• For more information on The XIV World Forestry Congress, see and

• Background on people and forests in Asia - Investing in social and human capital is an essential part of investing in natural capital and ensuring a sustainable future:
More than 450 million people in Asia and the Pacific are dependent on forests for part of their livelihoods – for food, fuel, fodder and other forest products – as well as for environmental services such as water and micro-climate regulation, biodiversity and cultural conservation. Despite many positive developments, these forests are still subject to wide-scale degradation and conversion, and are becoming fragmented within increasingly diverse and intensively used landscapes. This often creates negative impacts for local people, particularly the poor and excluded, as well as on national and global issues such as climate change. It is thus essential to enable the rural poor to convert natural capital to other forms of capital in a sustainable way. Empowering local communities by investing in tenure rights and appropriate regulatory and supporting frameworks to achieve sustainable forest management is essential.

Community forestry and related community-based forest landscape management has proven to be an effective approach for reducing forest loss and degradation and improving forest conservation and restoration. It is a powerful approach for improving the rights, governance and fairer access to benefits of local people and smallholders and consequently, their livelihoods and food security. There is increasing national policy support for this approach in many forested countries in the Asia and the Pacific region, and growing interest in more sustainable forest management by national entities and international agencies. For more information, see

• This event is organized by RECOFTC and its partners: ASEAN-Korea Forest Cooperation (AFoCO), ASEAN Social Forestry Network (ASFN), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) with support from Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).