Forest Governance in Times of Economic and Climatic Turmoil

The sixth meeting of MegaFlorestais was held on October 17-21, 2011, and co-hosted by the National Forestry Commission of Mexico (CONAFOR for Comisión Nacional Forestal), an agency of the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), in cooperation with Rights and Resources Initiative. Delegates came from Brazil, Canada, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Mexico, and Russia, and the USA.

The meeting took place in Oaxaca, Mexico, and focused on “Forest Governance in Times of Economic Turmoil”. It discussed the challenges of managing forests in today’s economic environment, confronting the effects of climate change, promoting restoration, reforming tenure, strengthening governance and the contributions of forests to community development, and the changing roles of forest agencies. In addition, the meeting discussed transitions in the global forest industry, and how agencies are responding to ensure that their domestic industries continue to contribute to rural development.

Topics discussed

  • The global financial crisis and its effect on forests, forest trade, and forest markets globally;
  • The future of REDD+ as a climate mitigation, avoided deforestation, and development strategy;
  • Community forestry, specifically looking at Mexico’s ejido and community approach;
  • Climate change adaptation and forest restoration using examples from Canada’s forest health crisis and Russia’s wildfires;
  • Adding value to forests—payments for environmental services (examples from Mexico, Indonesia);
  • Changes in global markets for forest products, including biomass and bioenergy; and
  • Strengthening forest agencies such that they play a larger role in the broader land use, tenure and development strategies in respective countries.

Field trip on community forest management – Visit to La Trinidad and Ixtlán de Juárez, Sierra Norte, Oaxaca

The group visited 2 communities, La Trinidad and Ixtlán de Juárez, which have developed community enterprises that are growing, even thriving, sending financial resources back into the community for education and other social services, as well as for sustainable forest management. In addition to a sawmill, the Ixtlán community developed a furniture factory to sell finished forest products and ecotourism facilities.

Participants were impressed by the community/ejido governance systems, how communities make decisions to grow, distribute profits, and manage the forest. In some cases, forests remained un-harvested to protect water and biodiversity values, with the community voluntarily forgoing financial profit to preserve these important community and ecosystem values. Mexico, and Oaxaca in particular, illustrate how powerful community ownership/management can be, both for people and the land.

Resources and Presentations