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Highlights of PROFOR Knowledge as We Welcome in 2016
Looking back, the year 2015 highlighted both monumental challenges and opportunities to achieving sustainable forest management. Some of the setbacks included devastating levels of haze from forest fires in Indonesia, historically high numbers of wildfires across the western United States, and rising deforestation in the Amazon. On a brighter note, the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and a final agreement at the Paris COP21 negotiations saw a resounding global commitment to protecting and maintaining forests for development and climate change mitigation.
In keeping with its longstanding mission, PROFOR aims to contribute to these and other efforts towards sustainable forest management by supporting analysis, innovation and knowledge sharing. Over the course of 2015, PROFOR funded some 30 activities across a wide spectrum of countries, contexts, and forest-related issues.
On the value of forests in the context of climate change, PROFOR-financed studies in Lao PDR, Honduras and Burkina Faso found that forests play an invaluable role in building communities’ resilience to unpredictable climatic conditions. In Lao PDR, households with greater access to forest and livestock grazing areas were found to be more effectively buffered from shocks. In the water-scarce Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, a study concluded that a forest-focused water management plan could yield US $28-76 million in economic benefits depending on the severity of climate change impacts.
PROFOR’s support not only went towards identifying some of the investment possibilities for forests, but also to developing tools and knowledge to improve the effectiveness of forest programs, for people and for the environment. A study in El Salvador and Honduras highlights on-the-ground factors that are key to carrying out adaptation-based mitigation at the level of landscapes. A report on the political economy of decision-making in forestry aims to address social, economic and political challenges that could derail a technically sound project. And a report on predictive proxy indicators for forests intends to facilitate the measurement and forecasting of long-term impacts for on-going projects.
On the technical side, two PROFOR-supported reports on pilot programs in Lao PDR and Moldova reveal the value of using information and communication technologies (ICT) to enforce forest law and governance. At the same time, a Toolkit of Forest Control and Supervision was developed to provide practical guidance for situations where ICT solutions prove too complicated or costly.
Most importantly, PROFOR’s work continues to maintain a people-centered approach to the complex challenges of forest management. A new sourcebook on national socio-economic surveys in forestry, produced in collaboration with a number of forestry partners, provides a stronger foundation for determining the benefits that forests provide and their role in alleviating poverty. A report on the principle of Fair, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) brings together case studies of collaborative arrangements between forest communities and corporations. And a roadmap for a national biodiversity offset scheme in Liberia examines the difficult but sometimes unavoidable trade-offs that may occur between conservation and development efforts.
Building on this momentum, PROFOR has set ambitious goals for the year ahead, including narrowing the crucial knowledge gaps that hinder sustainable forest management; strengthening understanding across the various sectors that impact – and are impacted by – forests; and supporting learning that will enable the commitments made in Paris and elsewhere to be fulfilled.
Last Updated : 12-16-2016