Rich Forests is an international alliance of groups working to conserve and restore forest resources and foster sustainable rural livelihoods. Through partnerships with local communities, NGOs, and investment groups looking to make an environmental and social impact, Rich Forests seeks to create alliances that can stem the tide of environmental degradation, climate change, and poverty that threaten forest communities.
In order to realize this dream of sustainable development brought about by forest enterprises, Rich Forests has chosen to focus on two pillars: the marketing of non-timber forest products (NTFPs), and agricultural production through agroforestry. These two focal areas are key to promoting the restoration and protection of forests and communities around the world.
But what do these pillars mean? NTFPs are products that are extracted from forested areas without having to cut down trees, such as cocoa, chocolate, Brazil nut, and many more! These goods provide multiple benefits to communities and the environment, since harvesters of NTFPs receive income from their products, and take an active role in forest conservation – since the forest is the source of their livelihood. Local communities are ideal stewards of the forest, and NTFPs provide an ideal way for these communities to receive an income in these products. By encouraging the local and international trade of sustainably produced NTFPs, Rich Forests sees an opportunity for local communities to prosper and forest ecosystems to thrive.
Agroforestry refers to an agricultural system that uses tree species to provide shade, nutrients, and additional products. By using several species, these systems can also increase biodiversity and provide valuable ecosystem services such as erosion control, water purification, and carbon sequestration. Analog forestry is an ideal application of these principles, with its focus on sustainable production, biodiversity restoration, and ecological succession to reach a climax forest state, with its high biodiversity and valuable ecosystem services.
Currently, rural areas around the world – and especially in the tropics – are threatened by land degradation, monoculture plantations, and land grabs. That’s why Rich Forests supports initiatives that give communities control over their own resources, that protect and restore forests, and that create social, environmental, and economic impact.
The International Analog Forestry Network is proud to be a part of this initiative, which fits in ideally with our mission to restore forest ecosystems and encourage sustainable production of forest products. We look forward to sharing success stories with you in the near future.
To learn more about Rich Forests, visit their website here, or get in touch with IAFN’s Rich Forest coordinator, Isabel Macdonald.