Forests and Livelihoods
The World Bank reported that an estimated 90 percent of the poorest people rely on forests for subsistence and income. To date, forests are inhabited by approximately 1.3 billion rights holders (Mcqueen, 2008) of which 450 million people are living in the Asia-Pacific (ADB, 2003) and an estimated 300 million people in the ASEAN region depend, directly or indirectly on the various benefits derived from its forests. These people and their communities can contribute to sustainable growth in the region if empowered through supportive policies and programs particularly on community economy, and assisted in developing sustainable forest and non-forest based livelihoods.
Community Forestry Enterprise
Findings from a global study led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) on the relationship between livelihoods and environment based on sample surveys of 8,300 households in 24 developing countries, revealed that income from natural forests and other natural areas accounted for 28 percent of total household income, nearly as much as crops (Wunder, et. al, 2014). Similar studies have also underscored how community forest enterprises (CFEs) can add value to local forest economies and help to reduce poverty (Molnar et al. 2007), which in turn encourages local people to invest time and money in their forests and in a range of other assets. A Community Forestry Enterprise is defined as an “entity that undertakes commercial business based on forests or trees. It is overseen by a credible representative body. The enterprise can claim legitimacy within a self-defining community in terms of people and area, and it generates and redistributes profits within that community” (adopted from Macqueen, 2008)²