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From: "Dana Aldea" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Subject: Universal,Community forestry boosts quality of life, hopes for 
peace,May 19
Date: Sat, 19 May 2007 13:45:12 +0200

Community forestry boosts quality of life, hopes for peace

El Universal
Sa'bado 19 de mayo de 2007

The World Bank's release this month of a report entitled "New Evidence that
Mexico's Community Forests Protect Environment, Reduce Poverty and Promote
Social Peace" helps dispel myths about the logging industry, creating a good
starting point for policy making in the new administration.

Most everybody has heard how Mexico's woodlands and rural lifestyles are
devastated by illegal tree cutting, monoculture plantations, foreign
companies, slash-and-burn agriculture, drought-induced wildfire, and drug

At the same time, it's no secret that the woods and jungles are responsible
for air and water supplies important not only here but in the global climate
equation. The wildlife and genetic resources harbored in forest habitat are
known to be of infinite economic and cultural importance. Trees' role in
protecting coastal, mountain and riparian settings from erosion has become
ever more appreciated over generations.

The new publication contributes to this growing common knowledge by
describing upbeat scientific findings about the success of communitymanaged
forests in halting deforestation; saving land, water and fresh air;
generating wealth in poverty stricken areas, and preventing violence.

The report is the result of a five-year study based on the previously
distributed "Community Forests of Mexico: Achievements and Challenges,"
which was published in English by University of Texas Press and in Spanish
by Sierra Madre with the National Ecology Institute. This 30-page background
briefing provides a short course primer that qualifies as required reading
for everyone from tree-huggers to bean counters.

The two documents provide an indispensable distillation of the most salient
features of the national silviculture scene in our times. They are
illustrated richly with photos from Patricio Robles Gil, Claudio Contreras,
Sergio Madrid and David Barton Bray. They reflect the contributions of at
least 10 researchers at more than a half-dozen institutes, including Bray,
Juan Manuel Torres Rojo, Camille Antinori, Richard Tardanico, Leticia
Merino, Elvira Dura'n, Octavio Maga~a, Jean Francois Mas, Alejandro
Vela'zquez, and Vi'ctor Hugo Ramos.

If that isn't enough reason for stakeholders to read the materials, here's
another. They are a joint effort realized by the Ford Foundation, The
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Tinker Foundation, Environment and
Natural Resources Secretariat (Semarnat), National Forestry Commission
(Conafor), Florida National University, Mexican Civil Council for
Sustainable Silviculture (CCMSS), the international non-profit Forest
Trends, National Autonomous University of Mexico's Social Research Institute
(UNAM-IIS), the Mexican public Economic Research and Teaching Center (CIDE),
U.S. AID and World Bank.

So, take note. Community- based forestry in Mexico is comprised of timbering
and related businesses carried out on commonly administered woodlots by
ejidos (trust land collectives) or indigenous communal land holders. The
study represents the first inventory of those with commercial wood products
licenses, calculating some 2,300 nationwide. About 75 percent of them are in
the states of Me'xico, Durango, Michoaca'n, Chihuahua, Oaxaca, Puebla,
Jalisco, Chiapas, Guerrero and Quintana Roo. Their licenses cover 2.8
million hectares, providing 85 percent of the nation's annual legal

The report concludes that: These lands are equally or better managed for
forest conservation than natural protected areas. Especially in communities
with sawmills and other wood processing facilities, the industry contributes
to increased income. Communities organized around their own lumber
operations are more peaceful than others that suffer tenure and resource
competition. Government assistance is a common denominator in successful
community forestry operations.

It points out that the World Bank, among others, considers Mexico to be an
international beacon of community forestry, with a higher percentage of
community-managed operations than any other country except Papua New Guinea,
making it a shining light to guide other countries, including China and

The report contains sound advice for communities as well as policy makers.

It suggests they: Strengthen programs attending community foresters; develop
support systems keyed to individual communities' development levels; provide
compensation to communities for resource conservation; articulate public
policy to favor communal forestry; promote certification of sustainable
forestry practices; build market demand for community- managed forest and
non-forest products; facilitate further national study and information
sharing on community forestry.

In an administration plagued by lack of legitimization, ushered into office
by allegations of fraudulent elections, dogged by months of rioting in the
forest state of Oaxaca, criticized for privatizing natural resources, and
ravaged by drug lords, the research presented shows Mexico is at least doing
something right.

It makes clear one alternative path to improved conservation, governance and
social stability is simply continued support for the community forestry.

My own advice: Read the studies, follow the recommendations, and seize the


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