From left: Dradjad Wibowo, chairman of the Indonesian Forestry Certification Cooperation; David Ford, American Forest Foundation; Antonio Brunori, PEFC Italy; Mohamad Fadhil Hasan, Indonesia Palm Oil Association.
The importance of smallholders’ involvement in sustainable forest management and how certification can be made more accessible and inclusive for them took centre stage at the PEFC’s Stakeholder Dialogue 2016 this afternoon.
The audience were presented with different association representatives who shared about their work in engaging various stakeholders on certification and verification. Though there were no easy answers or conclusion about the challenges, the representatives were still able to share about the different development stages across geographies and commodities as well as explained how the benefits of certification assist in accessing the markets.
Antonio Brunori of PEFC Italy said that while forests are very much close to the hearts of Italians as they connect forests with food (mushrooms to be exact!), forest diversity, however, has been on the decline. Where in traditional land use used to have several tree species always central to agriculture production, diversity is now lost to abandonment due to poor management, rural-urban migration and fall in demand for fuel wood.
Brunori also shared that PEFC certification can be a solution for smallholders in Italy. One of the ways to fund certification for smallholders is to have urban people assisting the rural people through monetary methods as sustainable use of forests impact the economy; proper forest management can help income generation from Non-timber forest products such as mushrooms, truffle, acorns, essential oils and tourism.
Bringing the topic to Asia, Dradjad Wibowo, chairman of the Indonesian Forestry Certification Council (IFFC), also stressed that smallholders and small furniture businesses in Indonesia are unable to afford the cost of certification. While IFFC has taken the initiative to help them by raising funds to subsidise these smallholders so that they too can embark on sustainability development goals, there are still about 40 million smallholders in Indonesia in total, of which 15% belong to the woods-based industry.
Similarly, the need to address smallholders as well as cooperation amongst industries and countries to harmonise the sustainability agenda is as important too, according to Mohamad Fadhil Hasan from Indonesia Palm Oil Association.
Across the Pacific, 85% of family forestland owners in the U.S. Southwest are not engaged in proper forest management activities as most do not have a plan. And those who do, rarely adhere to them or take advice from perceived professional forestry managers.
In order to address conservation issues and reach out to forest landowners to connect them to professional services and information, the American Forest Foundation is finding ways to engage them through drafting landscape management plans across specific geographic areas.