Why We Need Trees to End to Poverty – Landmark Report

Forest cover on the east of Saint Lucia. Forests and trees play a significant role in poverty alleviation and ultimately, eradication. Credit: Alison Kentish/IPS

Forest cover on the east of Saint Lucia. Forests and trees play
a significant role in poverty alleviation and ultimately,
eradication. Credit: Alison Kentish/IPS

By Alison Kentish
NEW YORK, United States, Oct 15 2020 (IPS)

With extreme poverty (living on $1.90 a day) projected to rise
for the first time in over 20 years, a new study has concluded that
global poverty eradication efforts could be futile in the absence
of forests and trees.

Twenty-one scientists and over 40 contributing authors spent the
last two years studying the role of forests and trees in poverty
alleviation and ultimately, eradication.� The Global Forest Expert
Panel issued its findings on Oct. 15, in a report titled,
“Forests, Trees and the Eradication of Poverty: Potential and
Limitationsâ€.

The report comes amid two global challenges that are
disproportionately impacting the poor and vulnerable – the
COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. According to the United
Nations, 71 million people are expected to be pushed back into
extreme poverty in 2020, a major threat to Sustainable Development
Goal 1, ending poverty in all its forms, everywhere.

Lead researcher and chair of the International Union of Forest Research
Organisations
Professor Daniel C. Miller told IPS that while
forests and trees can help the severe losses at the intersection of
climate change, zoonotic disease outbreaks and poverty alleviation,
they continue to be overlooked in mainstream policy discourse.

“A quarter of the world’s population lives in or near a
forest and trees actively contribute to human well-being,
particularly the most vulnerable among us. This research hopes to
bring to light the available scientific evidence on how forests
have contributed to poverty alleviation and translate it in a way
that is accessible to policy makers,†he said.

Globally forests are a vital source of food, fuel and ecotourism
services. They also help to conserve water and soil resources and
boast climate change mitigating properties such as carbon
sequestration, the process of absorbing and storing carbon.

The report states that the rural poor need forests for
subsistence and income generation, but in one of its chief
findings, reported that inequality in the distribution of forest
benefits continues to hurt the vulnerable. 

“To illustrate, in large scale logging on indigenous lands or
where marginalised people live, timber is the most valuable forest
product, yet that value is often not accrued to the people who have
to deal with the aftermath of not having forests anymore,†said
Miller.

The researchers are hoping that the report can help to inform
policy on issues such as equitable and sustainable forest use and
conservation. Along with their findings, they have prepared a
policy brief for lawmakers. That document takes a multi-dimensional
look at poverty, assessing both the monetary value of forests and
tree resources and their impact on human well-being, health and
safety.

For two small islands in the Eastern Caribbean, the report’s
findings complement ongoing sustainable forestry for poverty
alleviation programs. In 106, Saint Lucia, which boasts 25,000
acres of forest or 38 percent of its land area, launched a 10-year
forest protection plan. The country’s most senior forester Alwin
Dornelly told IPS that this document was ahead of its time, as
Saint Lucia’s is well in keeping with some of the report’s
major recommendations.

“We simply cannot do without our forests. 85 percent of our
country’s water sources are in the forests. Our fresh water
supply depends on the trees. The plan underscores forest protection
for lives and livelihoods; from charcoal for fire and timber for
furniture to agricultural produce for household use and for sale by
residents of rural communities. Sustainability use of forest
resources is a hallmark of this plan,†he said.

The forestry department monitors the country’ eco-trails,
popular with nature tourists who take part in camping, hiking and
bird watching, activities that create employment for nearby
residents and based on the sustainable forest livelihoods component
of the 10-year plan. According to the global report ecotourism
activities are among the practices that may lead to greater equity
in forest benefits.

The report is also a morale booster for forestry officials on
the island of Dominica, who are celebrating reforestation gains.
Known for its lush, green vegetation, forests carpet 60 percent of
the island and its Morne Trois Piton National Park is a
U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation World
Heritage Site. It has taken just over three years, but the country
has recovered the almost one-third of forest coverage destroyed by
Hurricane Maria in 2017.

“Dominicans have the right to reap the benefits of sustainable
forest resources. We suffered 90 percent defoliage after the 2017
hurricane and 33 percent forest destruction. We are thankful for
both natural regeneration and our national tree planting
initiative. We have eight community plant nurseries and propagation
centres for sustained reforestation – nurseries we hope turn
handover for community ownership. We understand that forest loss is
livelihood loss, especially for those in rural areas,†the
country’s forestry chief Michinton Burton told IPS.

The English-speaking Caribbean is not wildly cited in the study,
something Miller says falls under its ‘limitations’ segment,
adding that more research is needed on smaller islands. The forest
experts who spoke to IPS, however, say the report’s warnings,
calls to action and findings are instructive for policy makers
globally.

The researchers have made it clear that forests and trees are
not a cure-all for poverty but are essential to the overall
solution. With health experts predicting future pandemics due to
ecological degradation and climate scientists warning that the
Caribbean will experience more intense hurricanes like Maria, the
report states that these challenging times call for a rethink of
current poverty eradication measures. It adds that the ability of
forests and trees to positively impact lives, health and
livelihoods must be a central part of discussions to lift people
out of poverty, particularly in rural settings.

The report was launched ahead of this year’s observance of
International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, World Food Day
and the International Day of Rural Women – three important days
on the U.N. calendar that promote sustainable livelihoods, food
security and poverty eradication.

The post
Why We Need Trees to End to Poverty – Landmark Report

appeared first on Inter Press
Service
.

Excerpt:

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic and a projected rise in
extreme poverty, a team of scientists says the world can no longer
afford to overlook the role of forests and trees in poverty
eradication.

The post
Why We Need Trees to End to Poverty – Landmark Report

appeared first on Inter Press
Service
.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Why We Need Trees to End to Poverty – Landmark
Report