Caring about forests is caring about the people who depend on them

Smallholder farmers can diversify the risks of climatic change by maintaining trees, that can deliver fruits, timber and fuel. Photo: N. Palmer (CIAT)
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Dic 2, 2012

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Cecilia

by Cecilia Schubert

Why should we care about forests? And in particular, why should smallholder farmers be concerned about deforestation issues? Won't conserving trees compromise food production? According to Barry Gardiner, we shouldn’t. At least not for the trees and bushes' own sake. But we should get involved if we care about justice. And if we care about people.

Developing country rural communities’ well being depend on forests, and forest's products - such as fuel, timber, fruits and nuts, and food for livestock. There are thus many benefits of keeping and maintaining trees, even for farmers.

Trees can also lower the risk of floods and droughts, conserve fertile soils, and provide income when crops fail. These are all adaptation activities that farmers in risk-prone areas can engage themselves in to safeguard food under a changing climate.

Tiina Vahanen, from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Forestry Department also pointed out the this link during the parallel event at Forest Day 6, “Governance frameworks for REDD+”, saying: “it is not just about forests, it is about agriculture and water too.” It is about seeing the whole picture.

Rural areas in developing countries are many times a wild mosaic made up of trees, farmlands, houses and living spaces and livestock rearing areas. The landscape is not always as clear-cut as in industrialized countries, where societies normally are planned before they are built-up and areas have clear boundaries.

In developing countries, farming often goes hand-in-hand with forest management and animal rearing. When we talk about protecting, enhancing and re-building forests but exclude talking about agriculture, we are ignoring the reality of these communities.

Right now there are discussions on how Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) can be effectively implemented in selected countries. Barry Gardiner pointed out the need for legislators to make relevant laws, ensure their implementation, and allocate funds to the right areas. But in order for REDD+ to be long-lived, there is also a need to make sure there are institutions and legislations that ensure that the funding and other benefits trickle down to local stakeholders that are safeguarding these global resources. As Tiina Vahanen explains in the video below, “implementation of REDD+ happens at the local level, not at convention centres,” so it is crucial to make sure that stakeholders get the reimbursement they are entitled to.

Watch to Tiina Vahanen speak about the REDD+ process, the potential benefits of getting involved for stakeholders, including farmers, and problems with getting benefits to the safe guarders.

What is REDD+? This includes Reducing Emissions on Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), as well as activities that enhance forest carbon stocks, such as  sustainable management of forests.

Read more about how we can link the REDD+ process and deforestation to climate-smart agriculture:

CCAFS Policy Brief 3: Linking forests and food production in the REDD+ context
CCAFS Policy Brief 4: Actions needed to halt deforestation and promote climate-smart agriculture


Cecilia Schubert is a communications assistant at the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). Follow the latest developments from the UN climate talks in Doha on our blog, on twitter @cgiarclimate and #ALLForest.