Making change happen: what can governments do to strengthen forest producer organizations?
The economic activities of forest communities and small forest producers are critical for local livelihoods, markets and development and for the future of the natural resources on which such activities are based. Communities and small forest producers control an increasing proportion of the world’s forests, and their roles in reducing poverty, improving food security in rural areas and restoring and enhancing the sustainability of resource use are beginning to be recognized. Self-organization into forest producer organizations (FPOs) is emerging as an important means by which small and marginalized forest producers can improve their access to, and use of, investments, technology, inputs and markets. FPOs are also helping strengthen the capacity of forest producers to articulate their needs and interests, negotiate for improved policies, encourage stable domestic markets, and link with international processes such as Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade and REDD+. Governments at all levels have key roles to play in the development of effective FPOs. This paper explores the scope, strategies and impacts of public measures that could be deployed to improve the institutional enabling environment for FPOs.