Small Enough to Make a Difference

In East Asia, the two-person handsaw is often used for the primary breakdown of logs in small-scale forestry. P. Dugan
In East Asia, the two-person handsaw is often used for the primary breakdown of logs in small-scale forestry. P. Dugan

A-08B: Small-Scale and Community Forestry for People, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services


Small-scale forest owners play crucial roles in forest development. In the U.S. 42 percent of forest land national area is under private ownership. Small-scale forest areas are also significant suppliers of timber and other forest ecosystem services such as water quality, wildlife,  carbon sink, and recreation.

Despite current contributions of small-scale foresters to forest development, empirical evidence suggests that they are underperforming. There are opportunities to significantly increase timber supply from small-scale forest areas.

The opportunity for increasing timber supply from small-scale forestry areas is, however, being constrained by many factors. Enrico Vidale reported that in Italy fragmentation of forest areas under private ownership is a major factor contributing to low timber value in the Veneto Region.

Small-scale foresters are faced with multiple challenges that threaten their sustainability, including forest fire, climate change, and land-use conversion.  In East Asia, rural migration and urbanization were reported to be a major threat to sustainability of small-scale forest ownership. Young people from rural areas often lack interest in forestry and prefer to migrate to urban areas to seek alternative livelihoods. Aging population was another threat reported to be hampering the sustainability of small-scale forest ownership. Older people sometimes sell off their forest land because they don’t have successors with interest in forestry.

Empirical findings from case studies from several countries presented in the session suggest several strategies that can help ensure the sustainability of small-scale forestry contributions to forest development. Top among suggested approaches include: educating small-scale forest owners on best practices in forest management, improved communication between professional foresters and small-scale forest owners, and facilitation of small-scale forest owners’ access to new markets such as carbon markets and  payments for environmental services.

Written by: Chidi Ofoegbu

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