Before the introduction of community-based forestry management, villages such as San Pedro in Bolivia’s Amazon mostly depended on subsistence farming. With the introduction of forestry reforms in 1996 the situation changed and residents became direct stakeholders and beneficiaries of forestry management. However, due to the physical nature of the work and established membership regulations, local women did not have equal access to work opportunities, decision-making and distribution of benefits brought by forestry enterprises.
The Nature Conservancy’s experience developing conservation strategies has found that understanding the socio-economic context of where it works helps ensure that conservation work is sustainable. Gender is part of that context. By including both men and women in a more equal manner, the forests the Conservancy is protecting today will be better protected by committed local communities for generations to come.
Groundwork is underway to ensure an inclusive and participatory approach in Bolivia. The Conservancy is working in five communities to help them strengthen the sustainable management of forests and facilitate equal access by providing forestry training, developing non-timber products, supporting community dialogue and monitoring the distribution of forestry benefits. In San Pedro, dialogue with community families revealed a change in perceptions and expectations. According to one woman, “We don’t know much about forestry management. We need to know more so we can participate.”