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Whither the people? Demographic, tenurial, and agricultural aspects of the tropical forestry action plan. Center for International Development and Environment

by Portal Web Editor last modified Jan 10, 2013 09:10 AM
Contributors: USAID, Owen J. Lynch

The FAO-coordinated Tropical Forestry Action Plan (TFAP) has been developed as a means of promoting sustainable development while slowing deforestation, and it has been promoted globally by the World Resources Institute. Development and implementation of TFAPs has raised important demographic, tenurial, and agricultural issues, which are highlighted in this report. Globally, the importance of knowledge and sensitivity regarding forest-dependant cultures is underestimated and these peoples are often politically invisible. Currently, TFAP guidelines do not call for demographic or cultural information and many plans are produced without consideration of the diversity among these groups. Many countries do not give land tenure to forest communities or recognize traditional property rights despite the fact that this leads individuals to not invest in sustainable management. Sentiment is changing, however, and the importance of land tenure has begun to be recognized internationally. The author suggests that this recognition be expanded such that communities are compensated with a portion of all revenues generated by forest concessions and development projects implemented on their traditional lands. Policies regarding swidden farmers continue to oversimplify their agricultural practices. The author describes differences between integraluote and non-integral swiddeners: the first group uses multiple species and intimate knowledge of local conditions, while the second usually farms in a migratory way such that local conditions are not heeded. Integrated swidden farming is sustainable, while non-integrated often is not, yet these two forms are considered alike in typical government policies. Oversights such as this hinder the successful development of TFAPs and related policies in most tropical countries. The author recommends that attention should be given to each of these issues as essential to promoting successful, sustainable forest management. Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and Tanzania are highlighted as hopeful examples since they have shown exceptional awareness of the needs of forest-dependent communities while adopting TFAPs.

Author(s): USAID , Owen J. Lynch

Publication Date: 1990

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