Seventeenth Conference – 2005, Sri Lanka

Forestry’s contribution to poverty reduction

Date: February 28 – march 5, 2005

Place: Colombo, Sri Lanka

Countries represented: 30

Conference session topics: The Changing World, Governance, Forest Goods and Services and Stakeholders

Key issues emerging from presentations and discussions:

  • Tsunami: the loss of many lives and destruction of property and natural resources by the recent tsunami has brought into focus the importance of conserving coastal habitats.
  • The role of forestry in poverty reduction: the sector is under-performing on poverty reduction due in part to weak governance.
  • institutional frameworks for social justice and good governance
  • national governance: stronger national-level linkage is needed between forestry and government sectors concerned with finance, poverty, health and rural development.
  • The need for high quality information in the public domain as a catalyst of good governance
  • Developing a community-centred approach to sustainable forest management
  • Illegal logging
  • The role of market place in promoting good forest governance
  • Call for action: a defining feature of this conference was the substantial involvement of practitioners with policy makers and academics, bringing an emphasis ion implementation and action based on current global knowledge. The forestry sector has a responsibility to demonstrate why and how countries stand to benefit by adopting measures and making sacrifices to achieve sustainable forest management, improved governance and sustainable poverty reduction.


There are inescapable links between the world’s forest resources and the well-being of society.  The 2005 Commonwealth Forestry Conference recognizes that forests make a significant contribution to the welfare and livelihoods of the poorest in society and calls for the following actions by Commonwealth governments:

  1. Coastal forests have an important role in mitigating the impacts of tsunami and storm events.

This Conference calls on the international community and national governments engaged in post-tsunami actions to:

  • Provide support and co-ordinate efforts to restore damaged forest and use coastal afforestation, as part of wider coastal protection measures in response to the Indian Ocean
  • Actively pursue preparation and implementation of integrated coastal forest management plans, with the participation of local communities, in particular to conserve and extend mangrove forests as a contribution to the sustainable livelihoods of the coastal communities.
  • Ensure that timber for reconstruction comes from sustainably managed forests.
  1. Increasing the ability of the poorest in society to adapt to change is a crucial component of building capacity to alleviate poverty.

This Conference calls on Commonwealth governments to increase the focus of forestry programmes on poverty reduction and on helping the most vulnerable in society to adapt to socio-economic, environmental and climate change.

  1. Stronger national-level linkage is needed between forestry and other sectors of government if forestry is to play its proper role in poverty reduction.

This Conference calls upon Commonwealth governments to involve their forestry departments, civil society and non-government partners fully in wider government programmes for social justice, poverty reduction and mainstreaming gender, ensuring that National Forest Programmes are explicitly linked to national poverty reduction strategies and incorporated into expenditure frameworks.

  1. Transparency is a crucial catalyst of good governance.

In accordance with the UN Millennium Declaration, this Conference calls on Commonwealth governments to apply the highest standards of transparency in forest-related financial, monetary and trading systems, as well as involving civil society and forest communities in monitoring and evaluation of forest resources.

  1. The capacity and culture of national forestry departments, and their implementation partners, is critical for increasing the contribution of forests to poverty reduction.

This Conference urges Commonwealth governments to give increased priority to forestry department training programmes and organisational developments that increase capacity for participatory forest management and inter-sectoral planning and implementation.

  1. More effective action is needed to manage logging activities in accordance with the principles of sustainable forest management.

This Conference urges Commonwealth governments to recognise the impact of uncontrolled and/or illegal logging and use of other forest products on the least powerful in society and to work together on national governance strategies that foster legal, sustainable and socially just forest use.

  1. Creating and expanding markets for products and services from sustainably managed forests can contribute to rural livelihoods and poverty reduction.

This Conference urges Commonwealth governments to:

  • Adopt and promote procurement from sustainably managed forests.
  • Increase recognition of the wider values of forest products and services through evaluation of the costs and benefits of sustainable forest management, and the promotion of these messages to forest managers, stakeholders and the public.
  • Provide economic mechanisms to bring forest services into the market place.
  • Take further steps to enable small forest producers to access markets and secure a fair return for their products and services.
  1. This Conference calls on the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to give political commitment to these actions in realising the potential of national forest resources for the alleviation of poverty.