News story

Forests: UK to help millions who rely on natural resources

Britain will work with the private sector to help tens of millions of the poorest people who rely on forests for food, fuel and medicines

Britain will work with the private sector to protect the livelihoods of tens of millions of the poorest people who rely on forests for food, fuel and medicines, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said today.

The forest-friendly package was announced by the Deputy Prime Minster at the UN Earth Summit in Rio - also known as Rio+20- taking place this week.

The UK will invest in a forest management ‘knowledge bank’ to help indigenous people in the poorest and most remote forest areas to protect their incomes and escape the impact of deforestation.

Crucially the scheme will put private investors who want to preserve the forests in touch with communities who need assistance, helping them to access markets and improve their livelihoods.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

It is vital we do all we can to protect rainforests for the long-term.

1.2 billion poor people depend on them for essentials like food and fuel, but their livelihoods are at risk. Careful management will protect their way of life, providing cleaner air and better access to drinking water.

This investment will support indigenous communities to work with larger trading partners so that they can support themselves and help protect the world’s long-term environmental health.

Forests are home to 1.2 billion people and to over half of land-based plant and animal species. They play a crucial role in removing carbon emissions from the atmosphere and regulating the drinking water supply of many of the world’s largest cities. However, livelihoods are at risk from deforestation and desperate poverty.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said:

“Bringing together the knowledge of local communities, private investors and international partners will have a direct impact on tens of millions of people who rely on forests to survive.

“But we will all benefit from this investment in sustainable forest management. By minimising deforestation we will all profit from cleaner air and directly ease the devastating levels of chronic poverty suffered by so many.”

Examples of projects Britain will support include:

  • Developing guidance to direct money for forestry management projects to the areas most in need, such as Liberia, Ghana and Rwanda
  • Spreading know-how on establishing seed banks and tree nurseries and why this is beneficial. This essential knowledge will also help plant trees in drought-prone or waterlogged soils
  • Setting up investment fora to bring together private investors and community forest enterprises to kick-start economic growth

The UK and international partners will help to create a bank of scientific and local knowledge to connect forest communities and give them the skills and investment needed to pull themselves out of poverty.

By working with businesses and communities across the world to help manage forests more sustainably, 358 million tonnes of carbon emissions will be avoided through reducing deforestation and restoring forests which have been lost.

Restoring forests offers a vast opportunity to reduce poverty, improve food security, reduce climate change, and conserve biodiversity. This will provide long-lasting economic and environmental benefits for the poorest, while helping small and medium enterprises connect across the world and access markets.

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