Thinking beyond the canopy

Improving livelihoods through smallholder and community forestry

CIFOR's research helps policymakers address smallholder and community forestry concerns in national poverty alleviation strategies.

Forest-based activities provide around 30 million informal jobs in developing countries, as well as 13 to 35 percent of all rural nonfarm employment. Yet many of the 240 million or more people who live in forested areas live in poverty. There is surprisingly little empirical knowledge to answer basic yet highly relevant questions about the forestry–poverty nexus.

At least one-quarter of the forested land in developing countries is under some form of community control, and that proportion is likely to increase. Domestic markets for forest products are also expanding, and should create new economic opportunities for low-income households. We need better information about policies and practices that could help smallholder and community forestry enterprises flourish.

Our goal is to improve understanding of the links between forests and human wellbeing. Within five years, CIFOR will have influenced the way smallholder and community forestry concerns are incorporated into poverty alleviation strategies in at least five countries.

Research themes

  • Identifying management practices that are appropriate for smallholder and community forestry, including provision of safety nets for forest biodiversity
  • Defining effective local institutional arrangements for enhancing outcomes from smallholder and community forestry
  • Developing policies and institutions to enhance coordination, productivity, sustainability and profitability of small-scale enterprises
More information

Domain leader: Research theme leader: Smallholder and community forestry
Peter Cronkleton

CIFOR'S Strategy 2008-2018: A summary
Key features of CIFOR's strategy for the decade 2008-2018. To learn more about CIFOR's strategic directions and to read the full document visits

Current projects: Smallholder and community forestry
Locations, project duration, donors, and objectives for current projects within this research theme.