Mobilizing youth for forestry development

Forests in the Philippines are vulnerable to various environmental stresses, hence the need for multi-sectoral collaboration to sustain them. Photo: World Agroforestry/ Cynthia Batin

Youth leaders from the Asia and the Pacific discussed the crucial role of young people in steering the forestry sector to a sustainable future. 

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, the International Forestry Students’ Association, and RECOFTC The Center for People and Forests held a consultation workshop for youth leaders and representatives of forestry on 20 March 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand. The workshop aimed to gather insights, stories and experience from the youth sector that would be integrated into the Third Asia-Pacific Forestry Sector Outlook Study.

During the workshop, participants engaged in interactive sessions to address critical issues about the forestry sector. Such issues included the relevance of forests in the future, the views of young people about trees, and the potential framing of forests in media platforms in 2050. They worked in groups and came up with various illustrations and drawings, which conveyed their visions for forests.

The participants of the regional consultation workshop on forest development. They discussed contributions to the Third Asia-Pacific Forestry Sector Outlook Study. Photo: RECOFTC

Participants expressed their enthusiasm about the potential of young people in shaping the future of forests with the express message that the current generation must not forget to look at the present times even with a forward-looking outlook.

The activities during the workshop were performed in groups to foster multi-sectoral, collaborative and integrated arrangements on forest-related initiatives. Collaboration is increasingly happening across sectors and institutions around the world. World Agroforestry itself has recently merged with the Center for International Forestry Research. Rodel Lasco, country coordinator of World Agroforestry Philippines, voiced his optimism about the potential of the merger.

‘[The merger will open] new opportunities as we work on landscapes in a more integrated manner,’ he said. ‘This is especially true in the Philippines where forest lands are closely intertwined with agroforestry farms.’

The combined knowledge and experience of these two organizations is an untapped potential that can harmonize with forest actions of international organizations, national governments, community groups and the private sector. Their networks can engage with more people, especially youth, at international, national, and sub-national levels.

Innovate, organize, team up

The participants developed three key themes in the workshop. They called for converting the themes into transformative actions to forward youth-led forest initiatives in upcoming years. Such actions can build the decision-making capacities of youth, who will eventually lead the sectors concerned with forests.

To facilitate such transformation, innovative strategies are needed to reach a critical mass of young people who can serve as champions of technologies and practices dedicated to addressing forest-related issues.

Alongside this, countries must train their youth organizations in terms of forest management and development. Organizations should foster collective action among their youth, making a united call to achieve mutual goals. Collectively, youth can partner with their national governments to craft policies that truly reflect their situation.

The workshop featured participants from various sectors, such as academe, research, government, non-government, and development. They represented several countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, Nepal, Singapore, Myanmar and the Philippines.

This activity was in line with the 2019 International Day of Forests celebrated every 21 March. In this year’s celebration, the potential of young people in combatting land degradation, climate change, and other forest-related issues was highlighted. At the same time, their role in forest actions, from global to community levels, was acknowledged as extremely important.


World Agroforestry (ICRAF) is a centre of scientific and development excellence that harnesses the benefits of trees for people and the environment. Knowledge produced by ICRAF enables governments, development agencies and farmers to utilize the power of trees to make farming and livelihoods more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable at multiple scales. ICRAF is one of the 15 members of the CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future. We thank all donors who support research in development through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund.'

Enrico Replan

Enrico L. Replan is a forest policy researcher with World Agroforestry. He also works as an agroforestry researcher for the Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Project, a joint initiative of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and World Agroforestry, funded by the Asian Development Bank. His research focuses on forestry policy, particularly on timber regulations, utilization and trees on farms in the Philippines. He is a PhD candidate in Environmental Science. He has a Master's Degree in Forestry, major in Forest Biological Sciences: Plant Taxonomy and a Bachelor of Science from the University of the Philippines Los Baños.

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