Farming + Forests = Food security: Integrated landscapes offer hope of sustainability in Asian uplands

Photo: Malin Beckman, SLU

Farming + Forests = Food security: Integrated landscapes offer hope of sustainability in Asian uplands

This joint Focali/SIANI/SLU Global Policy Brief shows how natural resource management policies and institutions influence livelihoods and food security for communities in upland areas of Thailand, Vietnam and Nepal.

Forests have, historically, had a very important role in food security in upland areas of South and Southeast Asia – both as sources of wild food and as sites for grazing, planting food trees and bushes, and various types of shifting agriculture. However, since at least the early 20th century, agricultural development and forest management have been treated as discrete policy areas, with separate institutions.

This policy brief suggests that policies and institutional approaches should enable a shift from intensive cultivation of marginal areas to more integrated land use. Forest officials in all three countries commented that food security issues lay outside their mandate, which means lost opportunities for developing forests to contribute to food security.

In Thailand, Vietnam and Nepal, there exists no classification for integrated land use or agroforestry. Hence no form of agricultural activity is permitted within areas classified as forest. This is influenced by the dominant international discourse that treats forests only as sources of timber, sites of biodiversity conservation or carbon sinks. While community management of forests has gained ground in some places, it generally does not include a mandate to develop the food security and livelihood potential of forests. Even non-governmental organizations advocating for the rights of forest people tend to limit their demands to the right to manage forests for protection purposes.

Download the Policy Brief here.

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