Local communities are among a forest’s most important stewards, and giving them a voice is one of the most powerful ways to protect forests. For indigenous and forest-dependent peoples, forests mean food, livelihoods and can be a path out of poverty. This is why the World Bank is strengthening efforts on social inclusion to preserve natural forests, and support the communities that depend on them. For many years, the World Bank has been supporting governments and communities to protect and conserve natural forests. Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation or REDD+, which provides incentives for developing countries to protect their standing forests, is one example of how the World Bank is engaging with countries.
Engaging communities in forest decision making
Indigenous and forest dependent peoples have protected their environment for thousands of years with little or no outside financial incentive and limited government recognition. Despite some integration into the market economy, many retain a close relationship with the forests not only for their livelihoods and subsistence but for their cultural and spiritual wellbeing. In particular, the Amazon rainforest is an important source of materials for construction and tools, fibers for weaving clothing as well as medicines and food and the Amazon forest and floodplain provide ecosystem services such as water for irrigation and erosion control that are critical for subsistence based agriculture and food security.
In Mexico, a majority of forests are collectively owned and managed by indigenous and non-indigenous communities. The country’s longstanding community forest management system is a model for other countries. The Bank is working with the National Forestry Commission (CONAFOR) to increase coverage, especially to indigenous ejidos in the REDD Early Action Areas.
"REDD+ will allow us to test these innovative approaches at local scale, allowing these to be really accessible to communities and ejidos," says Miguel Angel Abaid Sanbria, Head of the International Affairs and Financing Unit, CONAFOR.
REDD+ engagement is fostering inclusive approaches in other countries. Consultations with Indigenous Peoples and other stakeholders to help influence the way decisions are made regarding forests and forestry policy and help increase benefits and incentives for those who depend on forests.