CIFOR: redefining forestry with new ten-year strategy

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Both existing and potential forestry investors will be interested to learn that The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has released its 2016–2025 strategy, which is focused on sustainable forestry and solid forestry management.

Last year, major developments such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement put in place a new global development framework, of which forestry played a key part. CIFOR’s new strategy fits with the new framework and examines the ways in which ongoing forestry research, capacity development and engagement will boost the emerging development agenda.

The new CIFOR strategy, which is the result of more than 18 months of research and development, along with numerous internal and external consultations, aims to “step up to the new climate and development agenda”.

It is based on the “three pillars of research for impact, capacity development and outreach and engagement, and sets out the body’s mission, vision and values, confirmed CIFOR in a recent press release.

The new plan also details CIFOR’s six thematic work areas, all of which are aligned perfectly with the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to CIFOR’s director general, Peter Holmgren, the plan is a “new strategy for new times.”

“We are looking at forestry in a broad way – in terms of its full contribution to sustainable development. This is what CIFOR has always been working with. What we are doing is putting CIFOR’s work in a new and widely known context,” added Mr Holmgren.

CIFOR aims to create a “more equitable world” in which forestry boosts not only the environment but also the health and well-being of all of the general public, all over the world. CIFOR’s research helps to inform both policies and practices relating to global forestry and forestry management, all of which affect the lands themselves and the people that live near them and invest in them.

Among CIFOR’s key goals in its ten-year strategy are sustainable forestry and human well-being, sustainable food production, equal opportunities to land tenure, climate change, energy and low-carbon development and value chains, finance and forestry investment. The overall angle of forest management and restoration is also one of the body’s top priorities over the coming 10 years.

Indeed, Mr Homgren said that CIFOR hopes to bring a new definition to what forestry means to us in the modern age: “We want to redefine ‘forestry’ to mean ‘all contributions to sustainable development that are made possible through forests and trees’.

“If you ask, say, Europeans about their current view, they might argue that forests exist almost entirely for the purpose of conserving carbon and wildlife…If, instead, you ask those that depend on forests worldwide, a much more nuanced picture emerges. After all, a range of forest products and services provide direct and essential income and livelihoods to more than a billion people.

“Then again, if you direct the question toward forestry industry representatives, it is the market value of pulp, paper and wood products that counts most. Forestry, therefore, is about understanding the full range of these values, and finding effective solutions across multiple benefits, for various stakeholders, and over time.

“Redefined thus, forestry will have a much greater reach, and much greater opportunities for impact.”

This focus on sustainable forestry is good news for investors, more and more of whom are interested in the environmental side of their forestry asset. Indeed, for both public and private investment sectors, there are numerous ways of moving funds to sustainable landscapes, including verified farming or forestry projects that respect both the land itself and the local communities’ rights.

GWD Forestry spokesman, James Barrett, said: “It is becoming increasingly important to investors, both large and small scale, that the forest land they are linked to is looked after in a sustainable manner, with care and attention paid to both the land itself and the people living close to it. In this vein, forestry is a real feel-good financial vehicle like no other, which is why it is becoming such a hot investment.”

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