APFNet Workshop on Forestry and Rural Livelihood Development (1-14 November, 2016)

Updated:2016/11/28 11:06:25


Forests and forestry play vital roles in the livelihood of people in all societies through provision of goods and services, and significantly contributing to national economy and rural development. As per an estimate of the World Bank, around 1.6 billion people are directly and indirectly dependent on forests for their livelihood. In many countries, there is an overlap between the distribution of forests and the distribution of poor people, and considerable efforts are being made to address poverty and improve the livelihood of local communities. Hence, forests and forestry have considerable potential to make important contribution to enhance rural livelihoods.

It is in the context that APFNet Workshop on Forestry and Rural Livelihood Development was being organized by APFNet Kunming Training Center (APFNet-KTC) and the Forest Department, Ministry of Mahaweli Development & Environment, Government of Sri Lanka in Negombo on 1st – 14th November, 2016. This workshop is to provide a better understanding of forests-livelihood linkages and share the experience from different economies in the Asia-Pacific region and emphasis on the following objectives:

  - Assess the linkage between forest management and rural livelihood improvement and explore the ways in which the livelihoods of rural communities might be improved through better forest management

  - Provide an overview of the experiences and best forestry practices aimed at enhancing rural livelihood development

  - Analyze and assesse implications of key policy, institutional and technological developments and the potentials and limitations for livelihood improvement through biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.

The opening ceremony of the Workshop on 2nd November was chaired by Prof. Shen Lixin, Executive Director of APFNet-KTC.

Mr. Dissanayake Wasantha Tikiri Bandara, Additional Secretary (Environment Policy & Planning), Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment / APFNet Focal Point in Sri Lanka addressed the opening remarks and welcomed all of participants to attend this morning’s opening ceremony. He also highlighted APFNet has organized seventeen thematic training workshops since 2009 and made a great efforts in strengthening human resource capacity in the Asia-Pacific region. Taking this opportunity, he was so pleased to see more cooperation of training programme and pilot project between the government of Sri Lanka and APFNet.

Mr. Lu De, Executive Director of APFNet, expressed his special gratitude to Ministry of Mahaweli Development & Environment, Government of Sri Lanka and all efforts made by Forest Department of Sri Lanka. He pointed out all participants can learn lessons of forestry-based livelihood improvement from each other via this workshop and finally he wished the Workshop make a great success thorough the joint efforts.

Mr. Anura Sathurusinghe, Conservator General of Forest Department, Sri Lanka, thanked APFNet to have this cooperative opportunity to in the regional capacity building. He extended his warm welcome to all participants and distinguished guests.

A total of 15 participants from 14 economies brought together to attend the Workshop and share their knowledge and experience on forestry management especially giving a attention to rural livelihood development, they from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Myanmar, Nepal, Papua New-Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

The workshop is designed as intensive training programme which enables to help participants in the Asia-Pacific region build up their networking within a certain of period, and structured by four integral segments to provide the maximum leaning opportunity to strengthen their knowledge in terms of thematic lectures, presentations by participants and the development of policy brief based on specific issues.

In supplement with indoor learning session, field trip provides a unique opportunity for all participants to understand how various programmes and projects are implemented and gain first-hand information on key developments in livelihoods of local communities through better forestry management. The field visiting sites included Pinnawala elephant orphanage, Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya, Kandyan home gardens, Beliyakanda forest – Community management area, Hurulu Biosphere Reserve, Galewela community managed forest area etc.

Some Key Conclusions of the Workshop are summarized as followed:

  • The concept of livelihood is changing in line with the larger changes in society.  Livelihood needs of an agrarian society are different from those that of industrial and post-industrial societies.
  • What we have is a mosaic of land uses in the larger landscape, differing in the nature of their contribution to livelihoods.
  • Increasingly environmental services, especially clean water, air and climate change mitigation are becoming more important than the material livelihood needs.
  • However, for most developing economies the provision of material livelihoods will remain important, especially in situations where there are a large number of forest-dependent people who are poor. Hence an immediate concern is the livelihood of the poor – in particular those living within or close to forests – who derive a significant share of their livelihood from forests.
  • For many of the forest dependent people the access to other assets is extremely limited and this makes them highly dependent on forests.
  • A wide array of strategies and approaches are being pursued to enhance the contribution of forests to rural livelihoods. These are highly context specific and a “one-size-fits all” approach is bound to fail.
  • Most countries have revised their forest policies emphasizing on the objective of meeting the livelihood needs of rural communities. However a number of challenges persist in translating these policies into action:
          - Meeting the livelihood needs are dependent on a host of other policies and contradictions between different policies often undermines what is visualized in forest policies.
          - Conflicting objectives and absence of clarity on establishing trade-offs between competing objectives within the forest policies.
       - Policies are translated into action through rules, regulations and institutions. In many cases the process of adaptation of legislation and institutions is a very slow process.
  • Success stories in fulfilling livelihood need largely stems from effective legislation and institutional arrangements.
  • A major challenge in this regard is that most of the rural livelihood needs are under the informal domain, outside the formal system of policies, legislation and institutions. This has made interventions in the formal domain ineffective and often counter-productive.
  • Tenure reform is a key to improving livelihoods of forest dependent communities.
  • But tenure reform alone will not be able to enhance the livelihood contribution of forests.  Enhancing productivity and thus economic viability will remain critical to improving livelihoods.
  • Increasing productivity of forest products alone will not be adequate. Value addition through processing is a key to improve livelihoods.
  • This will require a better understanding of the value chains.  Historically forestry interventions have primarily focused on the supply chains only.
  • In a globalized world the value chains are undergoing rapid and often unpredictable changes and understanding and adapting to such changes will remain crucial in meeting the livelihood needs.
  • We live in a rapidly changing world requiring continuous adaptation. What is successful now will cease to be successful tomorrow, and what is considered as failure may turn out to be successful tomorrow.
  • What we need is continuous learning and building learning institutions that are able to sense the changes and adapt continuously. There are no “full-stops” in this process of learning.

On 13th November, Mr. Anura Sathurusinghe, Conservator General of Forest Department and Dr. CTS Nair, APFNet senior consultant issued the workshop certificates and gave closing remarks to all participants. To sum up, APFNet Workshop on Forestry and Rural Livelihood Development was round off in Negombo on 13th November, 2016 under the strong support of Forest Department of Sri Lanka.

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