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The Poverty-Forests Toolkit: showing what forests mean to the poor

Forestry often has a low profile within national policies and strategies for poverty reduction because the contribution of forest products and services to rural livelihoods is not sufficiently understood. The Poverty-Forests Toolkit aims to address this gap. It provides a framework, fieldwork methods and analytic tools to understand and communicate the contribution of forests to the incomes of rural households. This project will improve analytical capacity in four forest-rich countries so that the contribution of forest resources to national poverty reduction strategies is better understood.

A multi-country team will present, test and evaluate the PROFOR Poverty-Forests Toolkit in four countries: Cameroon, Ghana, Madagascar and Uganda. This process will provide data and indicators for policy decisions, which can be readily understood by local people, district officials and national policy-makers.

The project's outputs will be:

Phase 1: National level analysis
At the national level, working primarily with government agencies, the project will identify (i) available data of the dependence of poor people on forests, and impediments to their advancement out of poverty, in the contexts of national policies including those for poverty-reduction and forestry; and (ii) statistics collected regularly by government agencies.

Phase 2: Local situation assessment
At field sites, working with communities, the project will use the PROFOR toolkit to identify (i) their use of forest resources; (ii) their level of dependency on forests/tree products; (iii) the contribution of forest products to their household income; and (iv) the key constraints in the existing system (access, policy, markets).

Phase 3: Presenting information and priorities at the district level
Working with district officials, the project will discuss and evaluate the outcomes of the local situation assessments and decide what data on use of forests by the poor could be usefully included in district-to-national reporting.

Phase 4: Presenting information and priorities back to the national level
By sharing the data with national agencies, the project will spread knowledge on the role of forests in the cash and non-cash incomes of the poor. Ways in which national data collection could be modified to incorporate the roles forests play in contributing to livelihoods of the poor will be explored.