Communities And Forest Stewardship: Regional Transitions In Southeast Asia
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Communities and Forest Stewardship is a regional synthesis of trends in developing policy and implementing programs in forest lands. The study is based on the experiences of the AFN working with forest-based communities in Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
According to the foreword by Dr. Poffenberger, the shrinking of Southeast Asia’s primary rain forests, from over 250 million hectares in 1900 to less than 60 million hectares in 1989, happened under the legal stewardship of national forestry agencies that have failed to sustainably manage industrial timber concessions in millions of hectares. While certain forest lands have been converted to other uses because of growing population, most have been unsustainably exploited and left degraded.
Communities and Forest Stewardship urgently calls for a paradigm shift in how forest environments have been perceived and managed by governments. The dominant model of professional foresters —under the ultimate direction of the central government— primarily controlling up to 70 percent of each nation’s land area has failed dramatically.
The publication explores the changes going on in the forestry sector of these five countries, not just in the physical states, or in terms of legislation and policy reform, but especially in how rural communities themselves, within their own cultures, are responding to the need to better manage —and restore— forest resources. It reports growing interest in exploring ways to link the formal forestry sector to informal initiatives of forest-based populations, and emphasizes the importance of engaging community participation in forest stewardship.
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