In 2014-15, RECOFTC demonstrated how community forestry in the Asia-Pacific region has great potential to be a pioneer in the drive to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Community forestry - which is firmly placed at the intersection between environment and local people’s rights - has much to offer even beyond the conventional thinking. So in this annual report, we show how community forestry and RECOFTC’s work contributes to the SDGs - both including and beyond SDG 15 (life on land). Highlights in this year include RECOFTC’s work to enhance local livelihoods in Cambodia, and support to the development of harvesting technologies to increase local communities’ share of timber- and bamboo-based value chains – contributing to SDG 1 (ending poverty) among others. SDG 5 (gender equality) is another area where RECOFTC has made much progress – in Viet Nam, RECOFTC developed capacities of women’s community groups which then reached out to community members to find sustainable incomes rather than working with illegal loggers. Much of RECOFTC’s work also contributed to SDG 13 (climate action), including empowering grassroots communities to voice their concerns on REDD+ and working with national climate change negotiators in the lead-up to COP21 to ensure consideration of people and forests in national climate action plans.
Overall, RECOFTC’s work continues to contribute to an increase in community forests. As of September 2015, 35,000 CF groups have been formalized in the region with over 13 million hectares of forested landscape managed by local communities and indigenous people. The growth of CF in Cambodia demonstrates RECOFTC’s impact—in 2007, when RECOFTC first established a presence in the country, not a single CF was formalized; now there are 291 CFs benefitting more than 70,000 local households and managing 258 thousand hectares of forest. Out of these, 41 CFs have developed sustainable business plans with the direct help of RECOFTC to bring poor and marginalized beneficiaries out of subsistence level income using forest resources.
As governments across the region consider how they will achieve the SDGs, we hope the many successes in this report highlight the importance of doing so in a participatory and inclusive manner - two of the fundamentals of community forestry.