Much progress on the people-forest nexus has occurred within the forestry world. Forestry researchers are taking serious notice of the impacts of forests on people, and people on forests. Encouraging examples include attention to human well-being, attempts to work collaboratively with communities and their subgroups, a focus on power relations (devolution, ethnic and gender studies), and attention to people’s knowledge about forests. More controversial topics like swidden agriculture, human health, nutrition, human rights and population have also been addressed. But much remains to be done.
We know how dependent people living in forests are upon them and that their influence can be positive or negative. The desire to maximize the positive suggests the need for a greater focus on equity. The female half of forest populations, for example, still tends to be invisible. Yet studies focused on women alone have proven difficult to integrate into forestry. To activate all human capabilities, we need to better understand the relations between men and women as they interact with each other and with the forest. This will require courageously addressing: a) sensitive issues like population, the division of labor within households, religious beliefs and associated ideals, and violence against women; and b) methodologically complex ones like values, norms, and other powerful but intangible cultural topics.
The secret to our ultimate success will be effectively integrating the many disciplines involved so that we can expand our understanding of the forests – people nexus.
"The people and forests trajectory 1994-2014 and beyond"