The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) launched the new tool Managing forests in displacement settings.
Of the estimated 65 million forcibly displaced people world-wide, 80 per cent are forest dependent, relying at least in part on forest products for energy, shelter, fodder, nutrition and cash income.
The tool provides guidance on the management of natural and planted forests and woodlands in displacement settings, taking into account wood fuel demand and supply, land suitability, land tenure, livelihood opportunities, the prerequisites for suitable nursery and plantation sites, tree species selection, nursery establishment and management, plantation establishment and management, as well as monitoring, evaluation and reporting, amongst others.
The four main purposes of management interventions in displacement settings are:
1) the rehabilitation, protection and use of degraded forest land,
2) plantations for energy,
3) plantations for timber production and
4) plantations for food and fodder production.
In Uganda's Bidibidi settlement, one of the world's largest refugee-hosting areas, UNHCR and FAO estimated that annual wood fuel consumption had mounted to over 300,000 tonnes in 2017. If left unmanaged, wood fuel supply in Bidibidi would only last up to three more years at this rate of consumption, and come at a high cost –the full depletion of the forest.
The handbook recommends planting trees for energy, timber, food and fodder, to generate income opportunities for refugees and host populations, help build their resilience, and reduce the environmental impact of displacement settings.
Forest management plans still do not necessarily indicate who owns the right to harvest and who will benefit from the harvest of wood and non-wood products. The involvement of the local community is crucial as it helps build a sense of ownership and ensure forest interventions are well managed, stresses the handbook.
FAO & UNHCR. 2018. Managing forests in displacement settings: guidance on the use of
planted and natural forests to supply forest products and build resilience in displaced and
host communities, by A. Gianvenuti, A. Guéret and C. Sabogal. Rome, 84 pp.