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Economic Benefits of Forests, Massively Under-valued by World Leaders - IUCN
“When deciding how to spend their budgets, governments usually don’t factor in the economic returns to investing in locally-controlled forestry...They thereby miss a critical opportunity to invest in stimulating economic growth, sustainable development and poverty reduction." - Lucy Emerton.
Emerton, one of the authors of The Value of Investing in Locally-controlled Forestry, a recent report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), expressed concern that there is a pervasive ignorance among governments around the world, about the global economic impact of forests, if they are managed and controlled by the people who live in and around them.
According to the report, the economic benefits of forests are massively under-valued by governments and donor agencies, whereas, a better evaluation of what forests are worth will generate direct benefits for poor forest dwellers, open up new markets and affect global economic growth.
“Locally-controlled forest management is a highly profitable public investment and development assistance option,” says Stewart Maginnis, IUCN’s Director of Environment and Development. “We are talking about an absolutely revolutionary way of changing the world economy-and changing it for the better.”
At least 400 million hectares of forest landscapes, an area roughly the size of the European Union, and 1.5 billion people, a population larger than that of China, are already involved in locally-controlled forestry. However, only about 47 per cent of the legal rights over forests are formally placed under their management.
Forests are traditionally valued for their main commercial resource, timber. But they are home to 80 per cent of terrestrial biodiversity and provide a wide range of ecosystem services such as clean water, protection against floods and other natural disasters, estimated at more than US$ 720 billion a year for national and global economies.
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