Financing Sustainable Small-Scale Forestry: Lessons from Developing National Forest Financing Strategies in Latin America
1.1. The Challenges and Opportunities
1.2. REDD+ and Forest People
1.3. Scope and Limitations of the Paper
- How do small forest/land users, local communities and indigenous groups finance their forest activities? What are their financing sources and modalities, and what constraints do they face in accessing finance?
- What are the challenges and opportunities in enhancing financing for SFM for these groups?
- What considerations merit attention for linking local financing realities with forest carbon financing (e.g., REDD+) and other payments for environmental services (PES) schemes to enhance SFM?
2. Financing Small-Scale Forestry: Realities and Issues
2.1. Local Diversity, Specificity and the Need to Differentiate: ‘One Size Does Not Fit All’
|The Amazon lowlands exemplify the large diversity of peoples living in and around the forests and the different roles forests play in their livelihoods. It is home to such different local stakeholder groups as indigenous peoples, ribereños, extractivistas and colonists/settlers. These groups differ greatly from each other and relate to forests in different ways.|
Indigenous peoples. The Brazilian Amazon is home to more than 400 indigenous groups, comprising a large number of distinct ethnic groups. Normally, they live together in small communities in remote tropical rainforest in indigenous reserves, protected areas and/or extractive reserves. They have a strong relationship with the forest (culturally, spiritually and economically), which sustains a large part of their livelihood. Their extractive activities generally have very limited effects on the forest. In the Amazon Basin, especially in Colombia, large areas of forests have been set aside for this traditional way of living. Contact with the outside world used to be rare, but increasingly timber extraction activities, infrastructure or colonization and deforestation schemes are intruding on community areas, affecting the quality of communities’ lives and forests. Their inclusion in the wider economic system means their activities are becoming much more related to the outside world, although still organized on a community basis. The financing of forest-related activities depends largely on the market and on mediation by middlemen and timber (and other product) buyers.
Ribereños. In many tropical forest areas, people live along rivers, especially Negro communities in Colombia (Choco), and varzeas and quilombolo communities in Brazil. Such communities usually own a short stretch along the river and all the land behind it. They cultivate the river areas for rice, cassava and plantain throughout the year, and use the hinterland forests to supplement their livelihoods during certain periods. This way of living often goes back generations. Some small farmers (colonos or asentados in Brazil) adopted the same way of living. Ribereños do not form real communities but do express some communalities and some community organization. Put simply, they have created units of ‘agricultura familiar’, where forests form part of their living. The dependency on forest resources varies with the type of forest (primary, secondary, inundated palm stands), its condition (conserved, changed or degraded) and the legal status of the area (reserva legal, extractive reserve, conservation area). Timber activity is seasonal and extractive activities have limited effects on forests; harvesting intensity is low and only a few species are used. The communities sell the timber at the riverbank to whichever middleman or transporter is passing by, without regulation or control . Income from these activities is particularly important during seasonal shortfalls in food and cash crop income and in periods of drought or other emergencies.
Extractivistas. Various forest-dwelling people’s livelihoods depend almost entirely on the small-scale extraction of forest products, timber or non-timber (Brazil nuts, natural rubber, chicle). Extraction is regulated and organized to various degrees, either formal or informal, but usually in a combination of formal and informal. For example, in Brazil asentamientos de extractivistas have permits to live in extractive reserves. Motosierrists (in Bolivia cuartoneros, productores informales or piratas  make their living from small-scale lumbering, using chainsaws, axes and machetes. Chainsaw milling has emerged in Guyana as a significant component of the timber industry , although it exists in the other countries also. In many countries, these types of small forest-based, highly informal enterprise activity account for a large part of the total harvest from forests. Moreover, they provide income and livelihoods for large numbers of people within and outside forested areas, and influence local and national timber markets. However, little is known about how extractivistas function, including how they are financed and organized. Financing for short-term working capital and long-term lending for chainsaws is largely provided by the informal sector, in part due to inaccessibility of the formal system. For non-timber products, product buyers and middlemen have set up specific financing schemes that are characterized by high interest rates and power dependencies.
Colonists/settlers. From the 1960s to the 1980s, public policies in several countries supported the development of large- and small-scale colonization and infrastructural schemes, especially via reduced taxation, subsidies and technical assistance. Since the 1990s, market forces also have led to large-scale deforestation for agriculture purposes, especially in Brazil and Bolivia. Spontaneous colonization, driven by poverty and landlessness, has usually followed or preceded these developments. Cambas in Bolivia, caboclos/ribereños in Brazil, and colonos in Peru, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Colombia have typically come from outside the forest (mostly from the Andean areas in South America). They slash and burn forests, and making a living by planting corn, plantain or other short rotation agricultural crops. Colonists normally do not have a tradition of living in and from the forests.
2.2. Financing Forestry with Livelihood Strategies in Mind
|The experience of FAO and the NFP Facility in Paraguay illustrates the synergies that can be realized when the forestry and financial sectors work together. In early 2009, a national workshop on forest financing was held in Paraguay. Co-organized by 11 organizations, the workshop was attended by more than 100 representatives from the public and private sectors, including both the forestry industry and the financial sector. The capacity-building process was initiated against a backdrop of challenging issues (Paraguay has one of the highest deforestation rates in Latin America and donors and development agencies consistently describe its institutional weakness as very problematic) but also promising opportunities, including a new institutional leadership (INFONA, the National Forest Institute, was created in 2008) and a supportive private sector. Other strengths include very favorable tree growth conditions and a dynamic market for forest products, including for bioenergy. Paraguay had also been selected as a pilot country by both the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and UN-REDD and had received valuable support from various donors to improve its investment climate, most recently by the IADB and the Spanish Government.|
The essence of FAO/NFP Facility support has been to facilitate mutual learning between the two sectors, for example through the creation of multidisciplinary working groups and field trips where representatives of the financial sector (e.g., bankers, managers of pension funds, etc.) could observe interesting cases of sustainable forestry (plantations and natural forest management).
Achievements. This work of facilitation has produced a number of initial results. Fondo Ganadero, a bank that supports cattle ranching, has created a new credit line (initially worth US$1 million) for tree planting on pastureland and pasture improvements. The creation of the line is partly thanks to the fund staff’s exposure to interesting cases of plantations intercropped with pastureland and agriculture. The Agencia Financiera de Desarrollo (AFD), a public development bank, is developing a US$2 million credit line (PROFLORA) for planting activities. The Central Bank is modifying Article 42 of Resolution 6 regulating Law 921/96 on fiduciary transactions, removing the obligation for fiduciary agencies to create a guarantee deposit of 10 per cent for investment trusts. It is expected that the removal of this obligation will open to door to sizeable forestry investments by several private pension funds in Paraguay through a trust mechanism.
Lessons learned. The Paraguay experience with forest financing offers several aspects for consideration.
2.3. Diversity of Financing Instruments and Access
|Informal credit||Advance payment for goods (products) and services (labor), which can be in cash or in kind|
|Credit lines and project financing||Loans from cooperatives, commercial and development banks (public and private), including micro-finance|
|Donations, bilateral and multilateral aid||Loans and grants from development and bi- and multilateral agencies|
|Philanthropic donations/grants||Conservation, research and development, social grants|
|Public incentives programs||Subsidies and targeted grants issued and managed by public banks|
Investment tax credits/exonerations
Payments for environmental services
Credit guarantee schemes
|Private investment instruments||Own savings/investment capital|
Debt instruments (e.g., trusts, warrants, advanced purchase of products)
Capital market instruments (securitization, forward contracts)
|Funds||Forestry funds; national environmental funds; conservation trust funds (funded with public, private, or mixed sources),|
|Source: Adapted from [ 5]|
- * Can serve to transfer know-how and technology, to facilitate market access, etc.
|For motoserristas and collectors of non-timber forest products, studies indicate the existence of a large informal chain of financing by middlemen, sawmills, brokers and transport firms, which maintains the production chain. The system of habilito in Peru and Bolivia exemplifies its workings.|
The habilito system in the Bolivian Amazon  can be defined as a set of rules (written or spoken) governing an advance cash payment or goods (mainly foodstuffs) for labor service to collect Brazil nuts, rubber or timber. Typically, the advanced cash and goods received are recorded as a debt against the collector, who repays the total owed with the product recollected. However, the system finances not only the collection phase but also the subsequent phases of processing and transport .
Habilitación in Peru is an important informal financial service that helps to keep the timber industry running. The timber industry generates about €77 million per year, a good part of which is financed by habilitación. Despite the acute limitations facing producers in remote areas and the lack of public administration and banking services, working capital for forest operators continues to flow. Habilitación involves an extensive network of economic agents (habilitadores and patrones) willing to provide lending operations in the most remote areas along the Amazon River Basin despite unfavorable conditions such as lack of equipment, administrative skills and management plans . The habilitador, also known as maderero, is a merchant who, through patrones, distributes cash at very high interest rates (often up to 100 per cent), food staples and equipment in order to supply specific species of timber.
3. The Importance of an Enabling Environment
3.1. Governance and Institutions
- maintain or improve their level of technical competency and credibility vis-à-vis the ministry/ministries in charge of finance;
- acquire knowledge about financing language, instruments and processes;
- build alliances with other sectors, in particular the financial sector;
- monitor activities and their impacts, enabling assessments of cost effectiveness;
- proactively seek to take advantage of emerging markets and instruments for forest goods and services; and
- balance institutional capacity (human, financial and technical) with institutional mandates.
|PINFOR (Programa de Incentivos Forestales) is an incentive programme started by the Government of Guatemala in 1997. It is financed using one per cent of the state operating expenses. Between 1998 and 2009, it provided about US$134 million to the forestry sector. Annual disbursements grew from US$5.6 million in 2000 to US$16.9 million in 2006. In the past two years, the effects of the global economic crisis on Guatemala caused the amounts allocated to the program to fall to US$9.7 million in 2008 and US$5.5 million in 2009 . To date, the program has contributed to the establishment of about 100 000 ha of plantations. Municipalities, communities, landowners and other organizations can apply for incentives to fund reforestation, promote natural regeneration and improve natural forest management. Full ownership of the land (registration in the Registro de Propiedad Inmueble) is required to access the program. PINFOR supports the national goal of integrating and concentrating wood production and processing in the country whilst also meeting conservation objectives. The Ministry of Public Finance makes payments directly to beneficiaries following the receipt and approval of Certificados de Incentivos Forestales by INAB, the national forest agency. Funds are audited by the Contraloria General de Cuentas. The beneficiaries carry out planning, control on spending and monitoring, and INAB certifies plantation success and fire protection activities. INAB receives nine per cent of the programme funds as overhead for its support activities. Preliminary analyses suggest that the program has been quite successful at stimulating private investments in forestry and that each dollar disbursed will have an estimated impact in the national economy of about $6 .|
Amongst the main challenges of the program are that: (1) since its inception, the program has consistently received less than the amount established by law; (2) approximately 20 per cent of requests cannot be fulfilled for lack of funds; (3) program design does not allow for contributions from other sources; and (4) many small-scale forest users are excluded from the program because of the requirement to prove land ownership. To overcome the first three challenges, INAB may consider redesigning the program as a fund (e.g., FONAFIFO) that can receive private contributions and donations from bilateral and multilateral agencies.
To overcome the last challenge, the Government of Guatemala, with support from the Netherlands, has created an incentive program for smallholders (Programa de Incentivos para Pequeños Poseedores or PINPEP). The program is managed by a Board of Directors comprising representatives from the Asociación Nacional de Municipalidades, the Dutch Embassy, INAB and the Red de Comunidades Organizadas. The Board is chaired by INAB and makes decisions by majority. The Board is responsible for PINPEP’s policy and strategy, evaluation, monitoring and definition of technical and administrative measures. The investments are audited by the Contraloria General de Cuentas. PINPEP benefits mainly communities and organized groups, but small and medium producers can also use the funds. The program also gives incentives to officially recognized protected areas. The main conditions of the incentive are that individual lots should not exceed 15 ha (communities can have more) and that beneficiaries live on forest vocation land. The funds supplied are managed entirely by the beneficiaries, be they communal or individual. Beneficiaries have to present annual reports and activity plans. INAB monitors employment generation, planted areas and management (including fire control) activities realized. Congress will evaluate in October 2010 a proposal for the replenishment of PINPEP with public funding in amounts ranging from 0.25 per cent and 0.5 per cent of the state operating budget. Comprehensive information about PINFOR and PINPEP is available at http://www.inab.gob.gt.
Source: Courtesy of INAB and Programa Forestal Nacional de Guatemala.
3.2. Meaningful Participation
|Guatemala provides a good example of a country-driven effort to improve financing for small-scale forestry. During a national workshop on forest financing held in November 2007, participants recognized that greater understanding and collaboration between the forestry and financial sectors would have the potential to benefit both sectors and generate positive impacts in economic, social, and environmental terms. Workshop participants also recognized that improving financing for SFM by small users, communities and indigenous groups required an integrated approach. The workshop set in motion a set of initiatives, jointly supported by INAB, FAO, IUCN, IIED and the World Bank (known as the Growing Forest Partnerships), in support of four key dimensions.|
Governance. Small forest users, communities and indigenous groups have recognized that, as a group, they were disorganized, uninformed and poorly equipped to operate in a market for products and services. Their lack of coordination and a common vision also hindered their ability to influence forest policy decisions and the development of financing solutions appropriate to their needs. To address these weaknesses, the National Alliance of Community Forest Organizations of Guatemala (Alianza Nacional de Organizaciones Forestales Comunitarias de Guatemala) was created in 2009. It provides a forum for 11 second-level organizations and 400 grassroots organizations in Guatemala to find a common voice and influence decisions on the design of forest public funding programmes (such as PINFOR, PINPEP, PPAD) and formulation of forest policy (a review of the country’s forest policy is underway), and to engage with REDD+ readiness initiatives. It also provides them with an opportunity to identify key priorities for action and capacity-building needs with a broad basis of consensus. This level of coordination amongst indigenous groups and community forest organizations is unprecedented in Guatemala. Interestingly, though, for all its efforts, the Alliance only represents at best 50 per cent of the country’s forest-dependent people. A network of indigenous authorities (Red de Autoridades Indigena) has so far been reluctant to join the Alliance and many households and small communities are so poor and isolated that they are not within the reach even of local organizations.
Financing mechanisms. Working together, forest and financing representatives have identified 4 possible financing instruments with potential for development in the short to medium term: (1) micro-credit; (2) ‘factoring’; (3) repurchase agreements; and (4) securitization of forest-based cash flows. An assessment with financial institutions regarding the feasibility and attractiveness of the above instruments pointed to factoring and micro-credit as instruments with potential for piloting in the short term. Repurchase agreements and securitization are also attractive instruments but require greater levels of organization and capacity amongst producers. Factoring allows operators to raise cash to finance operating capital (e.g., to rent equipment) or labor using contracts for future sales as collateral. Besides these private financing instruments, Guatemalan stakeholders are also evaluating public financing options such as the reprogramming of PINFOR and the public financing of PINPEP (see Box 5).
Institutions. One of the critical bottlenecks in the development of financing instruments in Guatemala has been the availability of the economic–financial information needed to prepare ‘bankable’ projects and properly estimate the value of forest assets and future forest earnings. Another constraint has been the lack of known methodologies in Guatemala for rigorously assessing forestry investment risks and the availability of instruments to manage them. Furthermore, a number of policy and institutional constraints limit access to financing for forest stakeholders. To address these issues, a National Forest Financing Strategy was formulated and approved by the Board of Directors of INAB, the Guatemalan forestry authority. Within INAB, a small team was appointed to establish a Forest Finance Intelligence Unit (Unidad de Inteligencia Financiera Forestal or UIFF) to follow up and implement finance instruments identified to benefit smallholders and forest communities. The unit is providing forest finance information and capacity-building opportunities for foresters and finance professionals and facilitating the development of pre-investment initiatives (business cases). The country is also evaluating options to operationalize a forest credit guarantee fund (Fondo de Garantía Crediticia) that was created with the forestry law and capitalized with national funds but has not been used because of the lack of regulations. INAB has found itself in a financially vulnerable position as it relies extensively on public financing for its operations; it is currently evaluating options to diversify its financial base.
Market chains and enterprise development. Ongoing initiatives include: characterization of producer forest value chains with definition of financial profiles for small-, medium- and large-scale producers; and technical support of small-scale enterprises in terms of market and enterprise development.
4. Communication, Partnerships and Outreach
5. The Need for an Integrated Approach
- sustainable forest management (SFM) in its potential to contribute to rural development, poverty alleviation, and sustainability (careful attention should be given to the diversity amongst forest actors, forest types, management objectives and conditions, as such diversity leads to differentiated needs and possibility for financing);
- investment mechanisms: the whole set of sources, instruments and operators for financing, promotion and risk mitigation of investment in SFM;
- payment mechanisms for forest services and goods: the whole set of sources, instruments and operators to establish adequate payments to forest managers; and
- the enabling environment necessary for effective functioning of financing mechanisms.
6. Key Considerations
Agricultural policies can limit the demand for new agricultural land. Energy policies can limit the pressure on forest degradation caused by wood-fuel harvesting, while reduced impact logging (RIL) practices can limit the harmful impacts of timber extraction. Setting up protected areas (PAs) has proved effective in conserving forest, and—although being far from perfect—support for PAs should be considered as part of any comprehensive national REDD+ strategy.
- are based on negotiation and agreement amongst all major stakeholders in countries, including representatives of the financial sector;
- promote diversification in and synergies across financing sources and mechanisms, responding to the various forest management conditions and needs of different forest users;
- ensure that a supportive institutional, legal and socio-economic environment for investment and market development is in place; and
- include the multiple benefits of forests as management objectives in appropriate locations and circumstances .
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Boscolo, M.; Dijk, K.v.; Savenije, H. Financing Sustainable Small-Scale Forestry: Lessons from Developing National Forest Financing Strategies in Latin America. Forests 2010, 1, 230-249. https://doi.org/10.3390/f1040230
Boscolo M, Dijk Kv, Savenije H. Financing Sustainable Small-Scale Forestry: Lessons from Developing National Forest Financing Strategies in Latin America. Forests. 2010; 1(4):230-249. https://doi.org/10.3390/f1040230Chicago/Turabian Style
Boscolo, Marco, Kees van Dijk, and Herman Savenije. 2010. "Financing Sustainable Small-Scale Forestry: Lessons from Developing National Forest Financing Strategies in Latin America" Forests 1, no. 4: 230-249. https://doi.org/10.3390/f1040230