Image caption: Social forestry creates commerce and networks that flow from community involvement and support sustainable forest management.
Social forestry encompasses many strands, from involving communities in mapping to improving their capacities in forest management. Non-governmental organisations such as Genesis in Bengkulu Province, Sumatra, facilitates training on participatory mapping to delineate social forestry area in partnership with local communities and Forestry Management Units. They provide training in sustainable forest management for communities and FMU managers in business planning. Currently Genesis – an Indonesian NGO, is facilitating farmer groups in processing permits for their community-based forest management.
The Forest Management Units were established by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to ensure local communities have the skills to implement these sustainable forest management practices locally. The issue of skills is a practical, managerial and social is-sue. The International Labour Office highlights both the value of green jobs and the green economy but also the issues that illegal logging ignores such as the risk and dangers of forest work.
Social forestry doesn’t just happen in the forest, it extends its social connection right through the supply chain – consider the work supported by a UK timber agent purchasing door blanks. Working with the Indonesian mill PT Kutai Timber to support growth of commercial timber species within community forests. The mill supplies saplings to local community groups, these saplings are then grown on within local community forests. Tree growing is part of a wider sustainable ecology, as the trees provide shade for other crops that are grown underneath such as coffee, ginger, cassava, mangoes, chilli, sweet potato and bananas. The mill will then buy back the trees, and profits from these products are used to fund bursaries at a local school.
FLEGT helps to create circular, local economy, boosting investment, providing jobs and enabling a sense of ownership.