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ClientEarth Communications

24th June 2024

Achievements, Challenges, and Next Steps in ASEAN Social Forestry

Achievements, Challenges, and Next Steps in ASEAN Social Forestry

The ASEAN region has made some amazing strides in social forestry over the past few years, but there are still some bumps in the road. The ASEAN Guiding Principles for Effective Social Forestry Legal Frameworks offer a clear roadmap to overcome these challenges and achieve sustainable forest management.

Achievements in Social Forestry

Since 2016, we have seen a fantastic increase in forest areas under community management in ASEAN. This shift has led to better livelihoods, more income opportunities, and less forest degradation. National targets are ambitious, aiming to transfer over 30 million hectares of forest land to local communities by 2030.

Challenges to Overcome

Despite these achievements, social forestry in ASEAN still faces several challenges:

  • Insecure Tenure Rights: Many communities lack secure tenure, undermining their ability to manage forests effectively.
  • Inadequate Legal Frameworks: Existing laws often do not fully support social forestry, requiring reforms and updates.
  • Poor Governance: Weak governance structures hinder effective forest management and community participation.
  • Limited Capacity: Insufficient technical and institutional capacity limits the implementation of social forestry initiatives.
  • Financial Constraints: Lack of financial resources and incentives for communities to manage forests sustainably.

Implementation and Next Steps

To address these challenges, the ASEAN Guiding Principles emphasize the need for:

  • Effective Dissemination and Implementation: National-level presentations to policymakers and stakeholders, collaborative engagements, and reflecting regional principles in national frameworks.

  • Monitoring and Evaluation: Developing a process to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the guiding principles, identifying gaps, and addressing them through legal reforms.

  • Living Document: Treating the guiding principles as a living document that can be refined based on feedback and further developed into detailed technical guidelines for specific national contexts.

By following these steps, ASEAN member states can strengthen their social forestry frameworks, ensuring sustainable forest management and improved livelihoods for local communities.

Read the full guiding principles here