Towards an enabling environment for small and medium forest enterprise development
Rural communities and groups have long been managing forests and increasingly have gained legal access to the resource base, but only recently have they started to form small and medium forest enterprises (SMFEs) to add value to their timber and non-timber forest products (NTFPs). SMFEs represent a promising option for contributing to poverty reduction and resource conservation through sustainable forest management. Their development into economically viable businesses requires an enabling environment in terms of laws and policies that promote legal access to the resource base, provide incentives for sound forest management, support increased value adding, and promote the formation of human, social, physical and financial capital for effective forest and business management. This policy brief argues that there are still significant challenges to the promotion of viable SMFEs and that govern- ment and non-governmental agencies, as well as SMFEs and their business partners, have important roles to play in the process. The discussion draws heavily on the experiences captured during an International Conference on Small and Medium Enterprise Development for Poverty Reduction: Opportunities and Challenges in Globalizing Markets (Costa Rica, 23 to 25 May 2006).