“The International Day of Forests provides an opportunity to highlight the manifold benefits of forests and trees for people,” said Professor Daniel C. Miller of the University of Notre Dame, co-lead editor and author of the Policy Brief. “Our synthesis of the literature coupled with stakeholder consultations demonstrated the critical role that forests and tree-based systems can play in helping rural households across Africa not only to escape poverty but also avoid becoming poor in the first place.”
Africa is home to the world’s second largest tropical rainforest, the Congo Basin, and a wide array of other forest ecosystems, from coastal forests and mangroves to dry forests, from savannah woodlands to mountain forests. Trees outside forests also nourish land and life on farms and are essential in cities across the continent.
Despite this natural wealth, the continent is home to 70% of the world’s extreme poverty. Threats such as climate change, widening inequality, the concentration of political power, and the COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbate an already precarious situation for the poor. When facing such threats, forests and trees can be a lifeline since they act as a safety net, providing opportunities for income diversion and as a form of natural insurance. Though they are not a panacea, they play an important role in managing risks and finding ways out of poverty.
However, forests and tree-based systems are often overlooked resources in development policy discussions. Therefore, IUFRO’s Global Forest Expert Panels (GFEP) Programme has published “Forests, Trees and Poverty Alleviation in Africa: An Expanded Policy Brief”.
The publication derives its information from the global assessment report of the Global Forest Expert Panel on Forests and Poverty as well as complementary research in Africa and a wide stakeholder consultation. It was prepared by 20 renowned scientists and in consultation with 207 local stakeholders from various groups including national governments, international development organizations, civil society, and other interest groups.
The expanded policy brief was edited by Daniel C. Miller, Doris N. Mutta, Stephanie Mansourian, Dikshya Devkota, and Christoph Wildburger and published in English in July 2021, in Portuguese in October 2021, and in French in January 2022.
Header Photo: Women in Malawi carrying firewood, by Jennifer Zavaleta Cheek