BY EDMUND SMITH-ASANTE
The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), has published a toolkit for establishments and individuals wishing to assist small enterprises in the forestry sector fulfil their potential to reduce poverty and manage natural resources in a sustainable way.
According to the institute, the guidance is for international donors, non-governmental organisations and national government agencies and extension workers who work to support small and medium forest enterprises.
A press release from IIED says the toolkit can be used to diagnose and solve challenges in the sector such as: How to connect small enterprises to markets, to each other and to policy processes; How to create and secure funding for alliances of supportive institutions and How to support enterprises to develop products, improve the efficiency of value chains, prepare credible business and financial investment plans and ensure sustainability.
Divulging what informed the toolkit, lead author Duncan Macqueen, who heads IIED’s forestry team, said it is because “Small forest businesses are critical to the future of forest and forest peoples. They provide more than half of all jobs in the forestry sector worldwide and account for 80-90 per cent of companies in the sector,” adding, “Support that enables these small enterprises to manage forests sustainably is critical to efforts to reduce poverty, limit climate change and tackle illegal logging.”
The toolkit includes 16 modules of step-by-step guidance, followed by practical tips based on the personal experiences of the authors and includes 60 case studies that describe attempts to use the tools during a two-year testing period in 12 countries.
According to IIED, in China, it was used to apply an Ethiopian ‘health check’ methodology to strengthen newly formed forest sector cooperatives, while in Burkina Faso, it was used to improve market information flows throughout the value chain for forest products such as shea butter, honey, nuts and fruit.
The institute also discloses that in Nepal, it was used for product development, where community forest users groups were linked to community owned enterprises producing charcoal briquettes.
It says in that attempt companies were approached to design stoves that fitted the briquettes and the link was then made with the Himalayan Naturals retailer with 50+ outlets in Kathmandu to sell them, which business was a huge success.
“We have developed this toolkit in response to the priorities of members of Forest Connect – an informal alliance of individuals and institutions in more than 50 countries who are committed to ending the isolation of small forest enterprises,” said Macqueen.
She added that “Small forest enterprises need support because they have a crucial role to play in sustainable development at the local level,” and that “They generate profits that accrue locally, create jobs and empower entrepreneurship. And they strengthen local social networks to help secure resource rights in ways that can reduce poverty, encourage environmental accountability and help to tackle climate change.”
This toolkit was produced with support from the World Bank-hosted Programme on Forests (PROFOR) – with additional support from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the FAO-hosted National Forest Programme Facility (NFP-Facility), the United Kingdom Government’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Danish International Development Assistance (DANIDA).
Meanwhile, the views within this toolkit are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of PROFOR, FAO, the NFP-Facility, DFID, SDC or DANIDA.