As forest resources become scarcer, governments, communities and companies are all vying for access to them. Getting forest tenure reform right could make or break forests for future generations – and the global climate.
When land and forest tenure laws are clear and implemented, forest communities tend to manage their natural resources sustainably, often drawing from generations of local knowledge. But in many countries, uncertain tenure and overlapping rights leads to conflict and forest and land degradation, disproportionately affecting women, poor people and ethnic minorities.
Climate change is making itself known in different ways across the globe – and some groups feel its impact more than others. In dry forest landscapes such as the Sahel, it packs a swift and powerful punch. When the drenching rains finally come, farmers must be ready to plant. But now shifting seasons and heavier rains are leading to failed crops and erosion. Women and those living in rural communities often bear the brunt of these effects.
In the forestry sector, the concept of gender has evolved from an awareness of the need to consider women in forest management to the growing recognition that gender equality is a goal in its own right. But ‘gender’ is still interpreted in a simplistic way that rarely goes beyond traditional notions of women’s vs. men’s roles.
A small lake sits high in the mountains. Below it, water trickles along rocks and seeps into the soil, reemerging as a stream that flows downwards through the forest, eventually joining other streams to form a wide, meandering river in the valley below.