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ClientEarth Communications

24th June 2024

Key Principles of Effective Social Forestry

Effective social forestry is built on a foundation of clear principles that guide legal frameworks and practices. At ClientEarth in Asia, we believe in the power of these principles to ensure successful implementation and equitable benefits for local communities, Indigenous Peoples, and ethnic minorities. Here’s a closer look at the key principles outlined in the ASEAN Guiding Principles for Effective Social Forestry Legal Frameworks.

1. Recognising Tenure Rights

Securing strong and clear tenure rights is fundamental for social forestry. When community rights over land and forests are formally recognised, engagement improves, deforestation decreases, and livelihoods get better. Legal frameworks should respect customary tenure and facilitate participatory mapping of land rights.

2. Simplifying Allocation Processes

Allocating social forestry areas should be simple, clear, and inexpensive. Rules must be straightforward to ensure wide accessibility and participation. Clear guidelines, decentralized decision-making, and transparent procedures are essential for effective allocation.

3. Developing Management Rules

Forest management plans should be simple, practical, and adaptable to local circumstances. Legal frameworks should provide guidelines and templates to help communities develop and implement these plans. External support and capacity-building activities can further enhance community management efforts.

4. Supporting Internal Governance

Internal community governance is crucial for social forestry. Legal frameworks should promote accountability and transparency while allowing communities to establish their own governance mechanisms. Inclusive decision-making and information-sharing practices are key components.

5. Ensuring Participation and Representation

Participation of all community members, especially marginalized groups, is vital. Legal frameworks should include provisions to ensure the involvement of women, Indigenous Peoples, ethnic minorities, and the poorest members. Encouraging youth participation and external support can further enhance inclusion.

6. Enabling Market Access

To improve community livelihoods, legal frameworks should support market access for social forestry products and services. Simple rules for economic activities, tax incentives, and easier access to capital can stimulate community enterprises and sustainable forest management.

By adhering to these principles, ASEAN member states can create a supportive environment for social forestry, fostering sustainable forest management and equitable benefits for all community members.

Read the full guiding principles here