International commitments to reduce poverty and curb deforestation echo many national programmes and policies. But how do you achieve both together? The overlap between areas of persistent poverty and high deforestation often coincides with traditional models of state forest ownership in which large-scale industrial logging concessions or agricultural clearance are superimposed on pre-existing forest and land rights claims of varying validity. Widespread informality, resource conflicts and forest degradation often result. But there are also increasing numbers of more positive stories - sustainable community forest enterprises overcoming multiple dimensions of poverty. Secure forest rights, strong social organisation, appropriate business models and well designed support have enabled many communities to deliver on both social and environmental fronts. This paper highlights lessons learned, policy and institutional gaps that remain, and the formation of a new alliance, Forest Connect, to address those gaps.
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