The Problem One of the major
threats to forests is that people residing near these forests cut them
down. They need enough food to eat, clothing to wear, safe sturdy
housing, and some things that can only be purchased from other parts
of the world. Since they are often very poor, with little education
and few modern resources, clearing land for lumber and farms can seem
like their only choice.
But even this isn't a permanent solution: the soil is frequently so
unstable or leached from rain that it is fertile for barely one crop
rotation. In addition, entire populations of forest animals -- even
endangered species -- are lost as their habitat is destroyed or they
are hunted for food or the pet trade.
Still, if local villages are impoverished, starving, and growing,
it's a challenge to persuade people not to take what they can from the
A Solution A report by the
United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization states:
"If local people benefit from enterprises that depend on the
sustainable use of forest resources, they can reasonably be expected
to support the conservation of these ecosystems..."
One strategy is to use an integrated conservation and development
project (ICDP) that could, for example, create a core protected land
area, with increasingly intensive uses of the land as one moves away
into "buffer" zones. Such a "biosphere reserve" model also allows the
ecosystem to respond flexibly to global climate change. An integrated
approach would at the same time create a management system that
ensures the land will be a source of income and sustenance
It's not enough for a central agency to just set up preservation
zones. The local population has to support a plan like this, or it
won't work. They'll support it if it will reward their talent and
hard work with a better life.
Many people are working on projects like these, helping villages
around the world create products and services that allow them to make
a living while leaving their forests for future generations.
Our Part How does a villager in
Madagascar sell a handbag to someone in Chicago? How does a boutique
owner in Atlanta find a unique chess set that was produced in Guyana,
and how can she know its makers were fairly paid? Someone has to link
the artisan groups that create these crafts to the thousands of
faraway retailers who sell them.
Forests of the World fills this niche, bringing the fruits of
these projects to market, sending money back to the people who've
earned and need it.
One of our fundamental goals is to link the purchase of crafts from
the developing world with the task of creating a better life for
artisans, while simultaneously conserving the ecology of the regions
where they live.
We see the economy, the environment, and human culture as
inseparable parts of an integrated whole, where each piece of the
puzzle depends on the others to give the whole its shape.
We believe that if consumers and retailers know that there is a way
to shop responsibly and still find beautiful, high-quality products,
they'll do it. You'll do it.