Community forest management and its contribution to ODS in Colombia
Forests play a key role in regulating the global climate. It is estimated that Colombia has lost from 1990 to 2017, more than 6 million hectares of natural forests due to deforestation (IDEAM, 2019) and 58% of the hectares deforested between 1990 and 2013 occurred in the municipalities with the highest incidence of the armed conflict (DNP, 2016). With more than half of its territory covered by tropical forests, Colombia is implementing a community forestry model as a collaborative governance approach to forest management in order to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+) and contribute to national and global action to combat climate change. This initiative is led by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, with the technical support of FAO and the European Union.
The practice is an innovative model of community forestry with a new approach that encourages sustainable management of forests and seeks to collect information on forest management experiences with local communities, promote associative schemes for inclusive governance; support community forestry initiatives to shape the development of inclusive value chains through alliances with private sector; strengthen value chains of timber and non-timber forest goods and services through business plans; improve capacities of local producer organizations in market analysis and other useful business practices; promote a differential approach and strengthen the leadership and management capacities of women's associations. It aimed at diversifying economies and improving the livelihoods of rural communities by adding value to the production chain and access to markets.
The community forestry model contributes to the fulfillment of the following SDG’s: 5.a (by increasing the participation of women in decision-making processes); 8.3 (by promoting the formalization of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises); 8.4 (by increasing the participation of forestry economy in the GDP); 12.3 (by decreasing the per capita household food waste); 13.2 (by including climate change actions into the local development and territorial plans); 15.1 (by increasing the number of protected areas) and 15.2 (by recovering forest’s hectares and move forward to sustainable forest management).
The model consists of 3 phases to be implemented in 10 years. In the first phase (2 years), it has carried out the following activities: characterization and diagnosis of each cluster, including social baselines and statistics differentiated by gender, age, and ethnicity; gathering of information on production costs, employment opportunities and value chains; formulation of business plans; conducting market analysis and workshops to assist communities in the development of income-generating companies; implementation of the comprehensive strategy "Forest Territories of Life", to control deforestation and forest management; development of South-South Cooperation exchanges with Mexico and Guatemala on issues related to community forestry and governance and design and implementation of a workplan in each cluster. Regarding the monitoring mechanisms, there were decision-making bodies such as the steering committee that gathered every three months, the technical committees once a month, as well as regular meetings with the stakeholders in the field. In terms of financing resources, the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development and European Union contributed an amount of 945.349 USD and FAO 1.055.400 USD. Therefore, the total funding was 2.000.749 USD. Additionally, technical assistance was provided by experts from the FAO UN-REDD and FAO FLEGT programs to regional authorities in Colombia. Some contributions of the community were added to implementation of actions in the field.
In terms of contributions to the SDGs, the main outputs are: 5.a (354 women were involved in the community forestry process); 8.3 (66 direct jobs were promoted based on legality in the production of natural forest wood, and products non-timber forest, 249 families were impacted as direct beneficiaries of the practice, 191 young people participated in training and competition processes; 8.4 (8 provinces of Colombia are implementing a community forestry model: Antioquia, Bolívar, Cauca, Chocó, Huila, Tolima, Putumayo y Valle del Cauca) ; 12.3 (6 Business plans designed according to the productive offer of the clusters, 1 legal forestry business with support from the UN-REDD and FAO UE-FLEGT programs, Voluntary Agreements for conservation of natural forests signed between the Ministry of Environment, FAO and communities; 13.2 (1 Forest management plan is under implementation in Valle del Cauca, 2 Forest inventories were carried out to generate a management plan in Antioquia and Cauca); 15.1 (11.626 ha are subject to community forest management actions to reduce deforestation) and 15.2 (35.964 ha have been identified as potentials to implement community forestry management in the 8 pilot areas of the model).
During the implementation of this practice were identified different challenges associated to technical, institutional and social aspects. Regarding the social aspects, the incorporation of the differential and gender approach at the beginning of the implementation was difficult due to preconceptions about the role of women in rural areas, and it was necessary to use good pedagogical tools for achieving their full involvement and raising awareness about their contribution to their community’s change. Regarding the technical ones, informal jobs informality in the forestry sector made difficult mapping these initiatives geographically and having them in the national forest monitoring system. Finally, funding for the models’ implementation comes from international cooperation, therefore, for ensuring sustainability, it is necessary to start thinking about allocating national funds.
The sustainability of the model relies on the commitment of Colombia in implementing the National Strategy for the Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation ENREDD + that has an implementation horizon to 2030 and ensures that the country will continue taking steps towards linking its community forestry activities to reduction of emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+). In terms of replicability, the model has been documented and its implementation started in 4 regions, and then it was replicated in 4 additional zones. It was also implemented in other areas of the country such as the Amazon through programs led by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development. The sustainability of the processes also depends on the technical assistance that can be provided in forestry to support the generation, compilation and monitoring of indicators that contribute, as documented, to the goals of the SDGs.
The pandemic significantly affected the technical assistance provided to the clusters. In fact, many communities requested FAO’s humanitarian assistance for food and biosecurity kits at the beginning of the strict quarantine. The technical assistance has been provided remotely, and a new working protocol was created to conduct virtual meetings, webinars and instructional videos. In the middle of the pandemic, a commercial agreement was signed between one of the communities and a private company.
SDGS & Targets
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Deliverables & Timeline
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The project was implemented in eight provinces of the country: Antioquia (Remedios y Segovia); Bolívar (Montecristo); Cauca (Piamonte); Chocó (Acandí); Huila (Acevedo); Putumayo (Leguizamo); Tolima (San Antonio); Valle del Cauca (Buenaventura)