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Forest ownership can significantly improve people’s lives

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Issue date: 
14 July 2011
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Reforming forest tenure systems and securing forest ownership rights can significantly improve peoples’ livelihoods and enable them to gain income from forest products says a new United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report .

The FAO’s chief policy officer Eva Muller says the continuing demand for land, weak governance and emerging global challenges such as climate change increase the urgency of addressing forest ownership reform. The guide was launched at the ongoing forest tenure, governance and enterprise conference currently taking place in Indonesia.

In recent years, FAO has carried out extensive assessments of forest tenure systems in Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America and Central Asia and its impact on sustainable forest management and poverty reduction. Based on these analyses, the guide offers practical guidance for policy makers involved in forest tenure reforms.

According to FAO, around 80 percent of the world’s forests are publicly owned; but forest ownership and management by communities, individuals and private companies are increasing – more in some countries than in others. 

In Venezuela and French Guiana, for example, almost all forests are under public ownership, whereas in Paraguay, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Chile more than 30 percent of forests are under private ownership. In Peru, Guyana and Costa Rica, more than ten percent of forests are owned by indigenous people  Guyana’s forest provide home to approximately 8000 plant species and in excess of 1000 species of terrestrial vertebrates.

According to Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud the forest resources of Guyana are used for multiple purposes including the harvesting of produce, agriculture, research, ecotourism, Amerindian reservations, conservation and protected areas and biodiversity reserves.

In a statement to mark international year of the forest the minister said forests are an integral part of Amerindian culture, and communities make use of forest resources for a number of purposes.

Forest contributes an average of 3.4 percent to Guyana’s gross domestic product (GDP), over the past five years while employing some 25,000 persons. According to the Minister, the forest sector in Guyana is of tremendous importance not only as a contributor to the timber and forest products sub-sector, but also in the fight against climate change.

The government official stressed that Guyana must be proud of the fact that even though it has been harvesting its forest resources for centuries, it has done so in a “most” responsible manner and in keeping with international best practice.

Guyana has signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Norway for sustainable forest management; maintaining a low rate of deforestation and forest degradation; strengthening various identified Redd+ enabling indicators and activities for accelerating Redd+ efforts; reporting on Redd+ performance indicators of which forest legality is one aspect, among other areas.

Government will also be engaged in updating key policy and operational documents to support recently revised legislation. Additionally, Guyana’s forests will be subject to independent forest monitoring and we will continue developing the world’s first national monitoring, reporting and verification system.

Guyana has been harvesting its forest resources for centuries in a “most” responsible manner and in keeping with international best practice with a rate of deforestation of 0.06 %.

The Guyana government continues to ensure that all Amerindian land claims are acknowledged with many communities receiving land titles or extensions as a result. According to the Amerindian affairs ministry the percentage of Guyana’s territory owned by Amerindian communities is about 14%


Extpub | by Dr. Radut