ASEAN foresters need closer integration
Representatives of several ASEAN member states agreed that closer integration of community forestry across the region would help to improve farmers’ livelihoods, trade and environmental management.
The representatives from Indonesia, Thailand and Viet Nam discussed the achievements and challenges of their respective national social-forestry programs at a seminar organised by the ASEAN Working Group on Social Forestry on 7 September 2017 in Jakarta as part of a social-forestry festival hosted by the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry.
‘There are some similarities and some differences between the countries in how they implement their community or social forestry’, said Ingrid Öborn, moderator of the seminar and regional coordinator of ICRAF The World Agroforestry Centre Southeast Asia. ‘Some are well developed and others not so much. This seminar has been a good opportunity to learn from each other; it has highlighted the need for more such exchange of experiences around the region’.
In her introduction, Öborn pointed out that different countries called the practice of local people managing forests by different terms, such as ‘social’ or ‘community’ forestry. Each country also administered the practice differently. Partly, she said, this reflected the mixed landscapes that characterised the region from coastal zones to sloping uplands, typically consisting of part forest, part agriculture and part settlement with many different ethnic groups, cultural mores and histories. Social forestry didn’t operate the same everywhere nor should it because each case was unique with its opportunities and resources.
However, in all cases, the aim of national governments’ policies was the same: to improve food security and livelihoods for the people and protect the services provided by the environment for human wellbeing. ‘The right tree for the right place’ was a catch-cry from ICRAF that was increasingly coming to fruition as ASEAN called for the promulgation of agroforestry guidelines in member states that encouraged the greater use of trees in peri-urban areas, on sloping land and in lowlands. Many products came from trees, such as timber, fruit, medicine, fodder, and trees provided critical environmental services, such as enhancing soil fertility, sequestering carbon, controlling erosion, protecting watersheds and providing habitat for biodiverse flora and fauna.
Dian Sukmajaya, Senior Officer of the Food, Agriculture and Forestry Division of the ASEAN Secretariat, noted that ASEAN regional policies embraced the forthcoming ASEAN Guidelines on Agroforestry that are being prepared by ICRAF and partners; enhanced competitiveness of non-timber forest products’ standards and quality to increase trade; ASEAN Guidelines on Integrating
Social Forestry into Nationally Determined Contributions; ASEAN Guidelines on Social Forestry in Supporting Small-to Medium Enterprises (specifically focusing on development of non-timber forest products); a regional review of customary and statutory tenure arrangements; policy briefs related to strategies to support livelihoods and forest resilience, including ten agroforestry briefs; and creation of a regional monitoring tool for the implementation of social forestry.
Sukmajaya also outlined the institutional mechanism that saw five working groups—on Social Forestry, Forests and Climate Change, Forest Management, CITES and Wildlife Enforcement and Forest Product Development—feed recommendations to the ASEAN Senior Officials of Forestry at ministerial level to inform national policies in a virtuous cycle.
Thailand and the Greater Mekong Sub-region
Preecha Ongprasert, Chief of International Special Program Section, International Forestry Cooperation Division, Planning and Information Technology Bureau of the Royal Forest Department, Thailand said that the country was aiming for 40% forest cover and had so far achieved just over 31%.
He noted that the Greater Mekong Sub-region, a subset within ASEAN made up of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam and China’s Yunnan Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, was implementing an ‘economic corridors’ program, substantially funded by the Asian Development Bank, of large-scale construction projects and rapid economic development, including hydropower dams and enhancement of mining, forestry and industrial production, linked by new and upgraded highways, railways, ports and airports. Accompanying these developments was a declining natural resource base, including threats to forests.
To address these threats, the Thai Government and six others in the sub-region were collaborating on a project called Development of Demonstration Projects for Integrated Planning and Management of Forest Ecosystems in the Greater Mekong Sub-region, supported by the Asia-Pacific Network for Sustainable Forest Management and Rehabilitation. The project’s six key activities areas are 1) forestry policy; 2) silviculture and management of forest resources; 3) biodiversity conservation; 4) forest protection and watershed management; 5) forestry and rural livelihoods’ development; and 6) capacity building and development of human resources.
‘In our national program and this large project’, he said, ‘we have had much field practice and learned a lot that we can share. The challenge now is to bind more closely together through regional collaboration so that we can all learn how to implement community forestry regionally. The project in the sub-region is a strong start for long-term improvement’.
Sukmajaya pointed out that the Thai program had been successfully operating for a long time and had established a community-forestry training centre in Bangkok. It was the only ASEAN member state that saw its forest cover increase each year.
Dinh Van Tuyen of the Forest Protection Department, Viet Nam Administration of Forestry, explained that forest cover in Viet Nam was now just over 41%, divided into the three categories of production, protection and special use, with seven types of forest managers. Communities, rather than just individuals and households, only recently were recognized as eligible but now managed over 1 million hectares or around 8% of the nation’s forests, with still more to be allocated.
Viet Nam was the only member state that had a payments for forest environmental services’ program in place. The program generated over USD 300 million from 2010 to 2017, mostly from hydropower plants, which was distributed to households for forest protection. The country also had instituted forest certification with 29 companies that limits clear-cutting, avoids burning, prevents soil erosion and improves soil quality while increasing the price of the wood by 12–16%.
Eri Indrawan, Deputy Director, Directorate of Social Forestry and Private Forest Business Development, Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry highlighted the 12.7 million hectares of state forest targeted for handover to community management by 2020. Under the presidential directive, six schemes were available for communities. Even so, owing to the complexities of communities and the regulations themselves it was difficult to meet the target. Only about 1% of the target had been allocated. In Thailand, he noted, registration of community management of forests could be done online, which could be explored for Indonesia. Likewise, Viet Nam’s payments for forest environmental services’ program could be adopted for the archipelago.
Indonesia was rightly proud of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) licensing scheme that was the first of its kind in the world. It was the result of a Voluntary Partnership Agreement between Indonesia and the European Union. From 15 November 2016, all timber product types listed in the VPA and directly exported to the EU must be accompanied by a FLEGT licence, which automatically meets the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation that prohibits companies in the EU putting illegally harvested timber on the EU market.
Progress and the future
In his closing remarks, Sukmajaya told everyone that while social forestry had been discussed for more than a few decades globally, in ASEAN it was only the last decade. In this context, progress had been rapid even though there was still much to follow up and much to learn from sharing each other’s best practices.
‘The new plan from ASEAN is to enhance the competitiveness of timber and non-timber forest products’, he said. ‘The latter isn’t at large enough scale for trading at increased volumes so we are now looking for common non-timber products that can be traded between the member states and what is needed to harmonise the trade.
‘We are trying to set a benchmark and are developing agroforestry guidelines so that member states can learn from each other, transferring policy and best practices, with a strong focus for the next ten years of sustainable forest management. There are contesting interests in the food, agricultural and forestry sectors so we want to hold regional dialogues to support development of national policy’.
Read the first five ASEAN agroforestry policy briefs
Van Noordwijk M, Lasco RD. 2016. Agroforestry in Southeast Asia: bridging the forestry-agriculture divide for sustainable development. Policy Brief no. 67. Agroforestry options for ASEAN series no. 1. Bogor, Indonesia: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Southeast Asia Regional Program, Bogor, Indonesia: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Southeast Asia Regional Program.
De Royer S, Ratnamhin A, Wangpakapattanawong P. 2016. Swidden-fallow agroforestry for sustainable land use in Southeast Asia Countries. Policy Brief No. 68. Agroforestry options for ASEAN series No. 2. Bogor, Indonesia: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Southeast Asia Regional Program; Jakarta, Indonesia: ASEAN-Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change, Bogor, Indonesia: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Southeast Asia Regional Program; Jakarta, Indonesia: ASEAN-Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change.
Hoan DT, Catacutan DC, Nguyen TH. 2016. Agroforestry for sustainable mountain management in Southeast Asia. Policy Brief No. 69. Agroforestry options for ASEAN series no. 3. Bogor, Indonesia: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Southeast Asia Regional Program, Bogor, Indonesia: Jakarta, Indonesia: ASEAN-Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change.
Widayati A, Tata HL, van Noordwijk M. 2016. Agroforestry on peatlands: combining productive and protective functions as part of restoration. Policy Brief No. 70. Agroforestry options for ASEAN series no. 4. Bogor, Indonesia: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Southeast Asia Regional Program; Jakarta, Indonesia: ASEAN-Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change.
Roshetko JM, Mercado Jr. AR, Martini E, Prameswari D. 2017. Agroforestry in the uplands of Southeast Asia. Policy Brief no. 77. Agroforestry options for ASEAN series no. 5. Bogor, Indonesia: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Southeast Asia Regional Program, Jakarta, Indonesia: ASEAN-Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change.
Van Noordwijk M, Lasco RD. 2017. วนเกษตรในเอเชียตะวันออกเฉียงใต้: เชื่อมโยงการแบ่งแยกป่าไม้และการเกษตรเพื่อการพัฒนาอย่างยั่งยืน. Policy Brief no. 78. Agroforestry options for ASEAN series no. 1. Bogor, Indonesia: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Southeast Asia Regional Program, Jakarta, Indonesia: Jakarta, Indonesia: ASEAN-Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change.
De Royer S, Ratnamhin A, Wangpakapattanawong P. 2017. วนเกษตรในไร่หมุนเวียนเพื่อการใช้ที่ดินอย่างยั่งยืนสาหรับประเทศในเอเชียตะวันออกเฉียงใต้. Policy Brief No. 79, Agroforestry options for ASEAN series No. 2. Bogor, Indonesia: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Southeast Asia Regional Program, Jakarta, Indonesia: ASEAN-Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change.
Hoan DT, Catacutan DC, Nguyen TH. 2017. วนเกษตรเพื่อการจัดการภูเขาอย่างยั่งยืนในเอเชียตะวันออกเฉียงใต. Policy Brief no. 80. Agroforestry options for ASEAN series no. 3. Bogor, Indonesia: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Southeast Asia Regional Program, Jakarta, Indonesia: ASEAN-Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change.
Widayati A, Tata HL, van Noordwijk M. 2017. วนเกษตรบนพื้นที่ป่าพรุ: การรวมบทบาททางการผลิตและปกป้องสิ่งแวดล้อมเข้าเป็นส่วนหนึ่งของการบูรณะฟื้นฟูป่า. Policy Brief no. 81. Agroforestry options for ASEAN series no. 4. Bogor, Indonesia: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Southeast Asia Regional Program, Jakarta, Indonesia: ASEAN-Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change.
The ASEAN Working Group on Social Forestry is a transformation of the ASEAN Social Forestry Network, a government-driven network in Southeast Asia that aims to promote social forestry policy and practices in the region. It has been contributing to the implementation of the ASEAN Multisectoral Framework on Climate Change: Agriculture and Forestry towards Food Security, the Vision and Strategic Plan of Action of the ASEAN Cooperation in Food, Agriculture and Forestry (2016–2025), and the ASEAN Blueprints for ASEAN Community Building, particularly the ASEAN Economic Community and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.
ICRAF The World Agroforestry Centre is one of the 15 members of the CGIAR, a global partnership for a food-secure future. We thank all donors who support research in development through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund.