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RRI international conference on Community Forest Management and Enterprises: Global Issues and Opportunities
International Conference on Community Forest Management and Enterprises: Global Issues and Opportunities
Rio Branco, Acre, Brazil
July 15 - 20, 2007
Organized by the Rights and Resources Initiative, International Tropical Timber Organization, Global Alliance of Community Forestry, and IUCN World Conservation Union
For one week in July, the city of Rio Branco in Acre State, Brazil became the community forestry capital of the world. The three hundred participants came from 52 countries, from forest communities, non-governmental organizations, and governments worldwide to attend the International Conference on Community Forest Management and Enterprises.
The event was the result of strong collaboration between the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) and members of its Civil Society Advisory Group, who have worked together over the past three years to increase the state of knowledge on community forest enterprises, augment their visibility, and strengthen ties between community enterprise practitioners and associations. The event was based on a global study commissioned by ITTO as a comprehensive review of 20 case studies of community forest enterprises involved in producing timber and non-timber products.
The conference was marked by the continuous enthusiasm by all participants to learn and be heard through the end of the week-long event. Participants had high levels of engagement, taking advantage of every opportunity to exchange ideas on their experiences, successes, obstacles and ideas, despite the long hours and the barriers of multiple languages.
Particular outcomes included:
- From Brazil – Community and civil society representatives from across Brazil used the event to meet, for the first time in several years, prior to the conference and prepare a set of recommendations for Minster of the Environment Marina Silva. Minister Silva attended the opening of the conference, and later pledged to develop a new policy and program to support community forestry and enterprises. She has already organized staff in Brasilia to get this new program underway. In addition, there was lots of attention from Brazilian and local press, with journalists pressuring government officials to explain why tenure and regulations remain such barriers to communities and community enterprise in Brazil.
- From Africa – Twenty-six representatives from Africa attended the event, including Didace Pembe Bokiaga, Minister of Environment, Nature Conservation, Water and Forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, head of the DRC forest agency Sebastien Malele, Rosalie Matondo from the Forest Department in the Congo Republic, and strong delegations from South Africa and Cameroon. These representatives met separately on several occasions to assess implications for community forestry in Africa, and prepared their own set of recommendations. These recommendations include a meeting next year in Africa, a plan to set new targets for community tenure and enterprise for the continent by 2015, and collaboration between South Africa and the rest of the continent to promote the formation and support of community forest enterprises.
- From Communities – The event was co-organized by the Global Alliance of Community Forestry, and GACF members and leadership co-chaired sessions and convened meetings and presentations by communities throughout the event. The GACF met with many new community partners and supporters throughout the week, strengthening their coalition and regional representation. GACF also organized the final declaration and closing of the conference, with a statement and recommendations prepared by the community participants present.
Participants made a series of recommendations, including commitments to:
- Work together to ensure that legal access to land and natural resources be included in the laws and/or constitutions of individual nations;
- Lobby governments to provide lines of credit dedicated exclusively to community enterprises;
- Adopt measures to combat poverty and encourage social justice and policies of inclusion within communities;
- Call for the immediate suspension of high taxes imposed by governments on forest community enterprises;
- Seek economic and administrative help to reach the consumer markets for sustainable products; and
- Create through the ITTO a special fund for financing community forest organizations.
Posted By Megan Liddle at 11:27am on July 20, 2007
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