Local communities know their forests better than anyone, and nothing can replace their expertise in forest conservation. As the Forest Governance Project demonstrates, when given the opportunity they can create a better future for themselves and nature.
By Dr Poshendra Satyal, Global Forest Policy Coordinator, and Danielle Shaw
Header image: Palawan Hornbill is one of the Philippine’s 11 endemic hornbill species © Peter Wollinga / Shutterstock
A world without forests would be a world without life. Yet despite this well-known fact, it’s no secret that forests around the globe are under threat and disappearing before our eyes.
Forests across Asia and the Pacific are particularly special, teeming with an abundance of birds and other wildlife. Sadly, this has not been enough to spare them from deforestation and illegal logging, but in Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and The Philippines, this is starting to change thanks to local communities.
These countries all host an astonishing abundance and variety of plants, birds and other animals, many of these species found nowhere else on Earth. Indigenous peoples and local communities within these countries depend on the forests for their livelihoods, and many have a unique spiritual and cultural relationship with the forest.
Local people have been at the heart of the Asia-Pacific Forest Governance Project since its inception five years ago. They know the forests like no one else and their drive to protect them is strong, but it has been hindered until now by a lack of technical experience and political influence. Recognising this, the Forest Governance Project set out to empower and engage indigenous peoples and local communities, equipping them with the right skills to effectively manage their forests.