Earlier this week we highlighted the many functions trees and forests serve within agricultural landscapes, contributing both to the well-being of people and the health of the ecosystems. Of course, the how of protecting and integrating trees and wooded habitats in landscapes is an additional topic for discussion. FAO’s guide on agroforestry for decision makers targeted this thinking at a national strategy level. On a more international level, a recent report (conducted by the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) of the World Bank) assessed the success the Bank in meeting the goals of its sustainable forest strategy over the past two decades.
In thinking about how forestry and agriculture objectives can align, lessons drawn from that many years of experience can be very insightful. While forestry-focused, the recommendations from the evaluation are indicative of the close connection between land use and cover and livelihoods, and relevant to integrated management at a landscape scale. One of the reoccurring themes of the evaluation, and an example of success, was the importance of participation by local people and communities in decision making and management. Local participation contributed both to protecting forest resources and safeguarding (or even enhancing) livelihoods. In order to place more emphasis on poverty reduction, IEG recommends a move towards more equitable ownership and management, by supporting informal and small-scale forest users, and facilitating transferal of forest management rights to communities.
Overall, the report applauds a move towards holistic landscape-level approaches that combines sustainable forest management and conservation with climate-smart agricultural development, with additional efforts to integrate broader governance issues. While the IEG acknowledges this trend towards cross-sectoral development patterns and partnerships, it also documents significant room for improvement, particularly engaging industry and large-scale timber and commodity groups.