As governments around the world recognize the importance of local stakeholders in forest management and conservation, they are increasingly devolving decision-making authority over natural resources to local communities.
However, while the number of community forest enterprises (CFEs) is increasing, many CFEs are struggling to manage their forest resources sustainably while also making a profit and ensuring the equitable use of their financial returns. This struggle is exacerbated by intense pressure to convert their forests.
CFEs face a host of challenges including weak organizational capacity, lack of access to finance, limited business-administration skills, difficulty competing with illegal forest products and the absence of markets for certain lesser-known species.
The Rainforest Alliance has a long history of working with forest communities that have established their own locally managed enterprises, providing them with training and technical assistance on sustainable forestry practices, value-added processing, business administration, market access and more. Recognizing that sound scientific inquiry can help to guide technical assistance for local development, our Kleinhans Fellowship supports research that seeks solutions to the challenges faced by the community forestry model.
The fellowship provides funds for research that is oriented toward solving real-world problems as defined by CFEs. Moreover, the planning, implementation and dissemination of research results will be carried out in participatory manner to ensure that it has practical value for communities and helps to inform their action plans.
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