By Saleem Shaikh and Sughra Tunio
Tackling climate change through sustainable forest management is being promoted as a way forward to fight greenhouse gases.
Good management of forests practices can contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation. It also can help strengthen food security, reduce poverty, and achieve economic development and sustainable land use – critical contributors to sustainable development.
However, it is necessary that improved forest management practices for climate change mitigation and adaptation should be planned and executed in tandem, for they are intimately linked.
Achieving sustainable forest management lies in helping forest-reliant community become aware of and adopt practices that can create enormous advantages for their lives and for the environment.
The communities residing in and around the forests need to know that forests have many purposes - production of goods, soil stabilisation, protection of water and other environmental services, conservation of biodiversity, and livelihood support and poverty alleviation, to name a few.
Unsustainable forest management and exploitative use of these natural resources have resulted in huge loss of forests worldwide. But sustainable forest management involving communities, better planning and better policy implementation can help check and roll back the damage.
Sustainable forest management is a dynamic, emerging mechanism, meant to maintain and enhance the social, economic, and environmental values of all types of forests for the benefits of present and future generations.
RESULTS FROM NEPAL TO BRAZIL
Countries like Nepal, India and Brazil, where sustainable forest management programmes have been implemented, have shown encouraging results and some forests are reviving there.
Challenges like climate change, in particular, show the need for innovative approaches, including expanding best practices, and building on regional and international partnerships and existing indigenous knowledge.
Cutting forest carries high costs, including changes in rainfall patterns and loss of access to forest resources.
Today, billions of people worldwide eke out their livelihood from these natural resources and depend the services these provide to them.
Studies have concluded that poverty is one of the drivers of deforestation, and that adaptation to and mitigation of climate change should be carried out in combination with efforts to fight poverty and build sustainable development.
The role of communities is central to sustainable forest management. Carbon stocks in many forests across the world have been maintained and increased through the efficient management practices adopted by local communities, including everything from reforestation efforts to community fire management.
It is therefore essential that successful forest management programmes related to climate change mitigation and adaptation and to REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) take into consideration the experiences, indigenous knowledge, and lessons learned through community forest management.
Saleem Shaikh and Sughra Tunio are climate change and development reporters based in Karachi, Pakistan.