Timber, nuts, fruits, resins, gums and charcoal are only a handful of the many forest products that people have been collecting and harvesting for centuries. On the other side of the forest boundary, commodities such as palm oil, rubber, soybean and coffee, as well as activities such as mining are replacing large tracts of forests to fuel local economies and meet the demand for food, fuel and fiber. With increasingly globalized economies and interlinked financial systems, the demand for these commodities has never been higher. Forest products and trade assesses the reasons and implications of the investment and trade in diverse commodities at different scales, from wild food collection for household subsistence to agribusiness for the global market.
Despite the wide-ranging nature of the topic, there are some common threads of concern. Often, management practices – whether forest-dwelling communities collecting nuts, local mining operations extracting coal or internationally owned biofuel plantations – do not mitigate environmental costs or address sustainability. There is also concern that local livelihoods are not improving with the extraction of resources or land-use change in their surroundings. CIFOR aims to investigate how forest products,trade and investments can minimize negative impacts on the environment, address sustainability, have positive impacts on rural livelihoods, and generate economic benefits to society at large.