On this year’s Women’s Day, the Forest Smallholders Project is highlighting the importance of gender equality in the small-scale forest sector. Gender equality is a crucial factor in creating a sustainable and equal future.
Through the Forest Smallholders Project, which is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), we analyse the challenges faced by women and identify ways to pursue gender equality in the sector.
To support this effort, we have released three products that outline the challenges and provide recommendations:
Through the Forest Smallholders Project, we will continue to build the capacities of local stakeholders through customised coaching, training, and strengthening access to markets and networks. And we remain committed to raise awareness about gender and women’s economic empowerment among micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the forest sector.
Gender equality and women’s economic empowerment are important aspects of our work supporting wood-based micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the Mekong region. Women play significant roles and contribute to the sustainable management of forests and forest-related businesses at the household and community level. However, women often do not benefit equally and their participation in decision-making processes has been restricted.
Challenges faced by women are multi-layered. The heavy physical workload in forest plantations and timber processing, in conjunction with social gender norms, confine them to reproductive and unpaid domestic work. Enhancing women’s capacity and participation in economic activities in the forest sector can boost rural livelihoods, increase their inclusion in sustainable forest resource use, and reduce deforestation and forest degradation.
We have published a briefing to analyse the challenges women are facing and to identify how gender equality in the small-scale forest sector can be pursued.
Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) is a multidisciplinary field concerned with the safety, health and welfare of people at work. Occupational Safety refers to working without danger, risk, injuries, and physical and spiritual loss. Occupational Health means having good hygiene at the workplace without negative impact on the physical and spiritual health of the employees.
The goal of OHS is to foster a safe and healthy working environment. OHS also protects the general public affected by business operations. This is important in the context of the wood processing as it can cause pollution, including from dust, noise and chemicals.
OHS is an important topic for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) because it is an area where capacity is generally low, in particular among micro enterprises. Business owners are seldom trained on OHS, and non-compliance with the relevant laws and regulations are commonly observed throughout the Mekong region.
Poor OHS practices can also have a negative impact on the welfare of workers, resulting in poor performance and low productivity. On the other hand, improving OHS drives good business practices, ensures continuous operations, and reduces pollution. This brief introduces OHS in the context of the wood-processing industry, describes challenges faced by MSMEs and shares training recommendations based on the experience of our Forest Smallholder Project in the Mekong region.
https://forestsmallholders.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/OHS-illustration-MSME-worker.jpg12331200Forest Smallholdershttps://forestsmallholders.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/ForestSmallholders_WebLogo_Tagline_3lines-12.svgForest Smallholders2022-06-26 10:00:002022-10-14 15:51:36Improving occupational health and safety among micro, small and medium wood processing enterprises
Worldwide, at least 41 million people work in the informal forest sector – more than three times the 12.5 million employed in formal forest sector related businesses.
In the informal forest sector, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are often characterised as “illegal”. This is the case when their modes of production, sources of raw material or legal status do not conform to their country’s regulatory requirements.
If MSMEs do opt to formalise their business, the authors argue, there should be incentives and support to ensure that they benefit from formal status. This includes business development and credit, access to markets, and increased ability to participate in legal and sustainable supply chains.
Formalisation will not always be desirable or practical for all forest sector MSMEs, the authors acknowledge. Where the rule of law and / or law enforcement is weak, policy and legal contexts are unlikely to be conducive to these enterprises entering the formal forest sector.
The report builds on the experiences of the EFI and the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme, whose programmatic work has focused on helping MSMEs to produce and process legal timber for integration into legal and sustainable value chains.
https://forestsmallholders.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/cameroon-fao-arielle-nkodo.jpg6281200Forest Smallholdershttps://forestsmallholders.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/ForestSmallholders_WebLogo_Tagline_3lines-12.svgForest Smallholders2021-08-03 14:45:002022-04-18 09:00:16Legality in the forest sector: New insights into obstacles and incentives for MSME formalisation
Micro, small and medium-sized timber producers and processors play a critical role in meeting the growing demand for forest products worldwide, as well as making vital contributions to livelihoods and national economies. It is estimated that micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) provide over 50 percent of total forest-related employment, with the figure in some countries as high as 80 to 90 percent of employment. Additionally, MSMEs are the main suppliers to domestic and regional markets in tropical timber-producing regions. The demand for forest products is growing significantly, placing more pressure on national forest resources. Forest sector MSMEs are central to ensuring that forest resource use is legal and sustainable into the future.
To better understand strategies to support MSMEs towards these goals, the FAO-EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Programme and the European Forest Institute (EFI) hosted a webinar entitled ‘How has supporting MSMEs to operate legally and sustainably improved forest governance and livelihoods?’. The webinar explored how changes in forest-management and timber processing practices generated through the support of the Programme and EFI have increased market access and enhanced the competitiveness of MSMEs while reducing their vulnerability to shifts in international and domestic markets.
The event centred around three key themes:
Building the capacity of MSMEs to operate legally and sustainably
Integrating MSMEs into legal supply chains
Helping MSMEs overcome barriers to formalization
Participants heard from two project beneficiaries (Mr Wichat Prathanrat, Deputy Permanent Secretary of Banthi Subdistrict Municipality, Thailand, and Mr Le Phi Chien, Director of Bach Viet and Moc Dan Dan Phuong JSC, Viet Nam) followed by a panel discussion moderated by Ms Sheam Satkuru from the International Tropical Timber Organization.
Supporting forest-sector MSMEs to be legal and sustainable
Panellists highlighted the need for assistance to MSMEs to be tailored towards their unique needs and available resources. Mr Laurent Ayemou, an independent expert on MSMEs and former project manager for the Association des Voluntaries pour le Service International (AVSI) in Côte d’Ivoire, outlined that tailored capacity building not only strengthened technical capacity but also encouraged formalization, increased competitiveness, and subsequently increased income, generating livelihoods.
Both Mr Peter Zormelo, the Head of Trade and Industry Development (TIDD) at the Ghana Forestry Commission and Mr Ngo Sy Hoai, Vice President & Secretary-General of the Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association (VIFORES), highlighted practical impacts that capacity building had. Through Programme and EFI support, VIFORES and TIDD have supported MSMEs to re-organize their production spaces and offered them training to reduce wastage and increase efficiency when processing timber.
Further emphasizing the need for formalization in the forest sector, panellists discussed how integration into legal supply chains incentivizes legality. Mr Zormelo explained how ensuring that MSMEs had adequate access to legal raw materials acts as a bedrock for operators to pursue legality and formalization. To this end, TIDD has established the Domestic Timber Trade Network, which creates business-to-business links between MSMEs and others in the timber sector, boosting the supply of legal timber on the domestic market.
Mr Zormelo’s experience echoed the experiences described by Mr Prathanrat during his testimony. In Thailand, legal revisions allowed the use of reclaimed timber as a legal source of raw material for MSMEs, boosting the domestic supply of resources. This has allowed a number of processors in Mr Prathanrat’s subdistrict to operate legally and, subsequently, form an association of operators that use reclaimed timber.
Ultimately, a range of barriers that inhibit the ability of MSMEs to formalize remain. Ms Alejandra Ospitia, the Chief Executive Officer of the Federation of Forest Entrepreneurs in Colombia (FEDEMADERAS), spoke of the legal uncertainty and constant changes in regulation experienced by Colombian MSMEs. The panel identified a number of strategies to overcome these barriers, including legal clarification, training, public-private collaboration, and revising tax and fiscal policies to promote competitiveness.
The future of support to MSMEs
Across Thailand, Viet Nam, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Colombia, it is clear that work on integrating MSMEs in legal supply chains generated knowledge that allowed MSMEs to improve their own production process, increase competitiveness, and strengthen business to business links. As such, business development remains important in supporting MSMEs.
In closing the event, Ms Valerie Merckx, Head of FLEGT and REDD Unit at EFI, stated that the event illustrated how MSMEs can be part of the solution to improve forest governance and meet sustainable development goals. MSMEs should be encouraged to adopt legal and sustainable sourcing and processing practices through specialized trainings, with legal frameworks adapted to their unique circumstances. By developing an enabling environment, support to MSMEs allows them to thrive, becoming essential for rural economies, jobs and livelihoods, and sustainability.
You can watch the full recording of the webinar below.
The FAO-EU FLEGT Programme and EFI would like to thank our project beneficiaries and panellists Mr Wichat Prathanrat, Mr Le Phi Chien, Mr Peter Zormelo, Mr Ngo Sy Hoai, Ms Alejandra Ospitia, and Mr Laurent Ayemou for their time and contributions to the event, as well as Ms Sheam Satkuru for her expert moderation during the event.
https://forestsmallholders.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Woman-working-Lien-ha-webinar.jpg6281200Forest Smallholdershttps://forestsmallholders.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/ForestSmallholders_WebLogo_Tagline_3lines-12.svgForest Smallholders2021-07-23 08:10:002022-04-18 09:02:05MSMEs important partner to improve forest governance and reducing deforestation and forest degradation
MSMEs play a critical role in meeting the growing demand for timber products worldwide. In many countries, they represent around 85% of all forestry enterprises and can support the fight against illegality by providing a source of legal, traceable timber. In an upcoming webinar, the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme and the European Forest Institute (EFI) will host a discussion on how support to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) can improve forest governance and livelihoods.
Over the last decade, the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme and EFI have supported MSMEs to operate legally and sustainably. The joint webinar will explore how this support has improved market access and enhanced the competitiveness of MSMEs, while reducing their vulnerability to shifts on the international and domestic market.
Panellists will offer perspectives from Asia, Africa and Latin America on building MSME capacity to operate legally and sustainably, integrating MSMEs into legal supply chains, and helping these enterprises to overcome barriers to formalisation.
https://forestsmallholders.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/EFI-FAO-MSME-webinar.jpg6281200Forest Smallholdershttps://forestsmallholders.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/ForestSmallholders_WebLogo_Tagline_3lines-12.svgForest Smallholders2021-07-13 08:18:002022-04-15 10:24:35Webinar to explore how support to MSMEs improves forest governance and livelihoods
The COVID-19 pandemic is exacting a devastating toll on wood-based micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
MSMEs are the backbone of Myanmar’s economy. They constitute 99% of formally registered enterprises, and generate significant livelihood and employment opportunities. But the pandemic has had severe impacts on customer demand, revenue, finances, workers and the availability and distribution of raw materials. Myanmar’s MSMEs also face difficulties accessing support from COVID-19 relief programmes.
These are the findings of a survey of some 200 MSMEs conducted by the European Forest Institute (EFI) and the Sagawa Institute of Organization Development. Members of the Myanmar Arts and Craft Association and the Wood-Based Furniture Association were surveyed as part of EFI’s Sida-funded work in support of forest- and timber-based MSMEs in the Mekong region.
The MSMEs were surveyed nationwide in August 2020, most of these micro and small businesses. The survey found that COVID-19 had forced most enterprises to stop or permanently close their business. A staggering 33.6% of respondents closed their operations permanently due to the crisis, while 65.2% stopped them temporarily.
As a way forward, an EFI briefing recommends that industry associations collaborate with the Government to ease the challenges that MSMEs face in distributing products and purchasing raw materials from official sources. The associations should also assist their members by providing documents and sharing information to help them access short- and long-term financial loans. Finally, associations have an important role to play in supporting business registration and licensing of informal enterprises to enable them to access COVID-19 relief programmes.
https://forestsmallholders.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/covid19-impacts-wood-msme-myanmar.jpg6281200Forest Smallholdershttps://forestsmallholders.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/ForestSmallholders_WebLogo_Tagline_3lines-12.svgForest Smallholders2020-10-14 11:34:002022-04-18 09:04:24COVID-19 takes a heavy toll on Myanmar’s wood-based micro and small businesses
Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are a vehicle for development and generate almost half of jobs in the formal forest sector globally. They are key to local economies, generating significant livelihood and employment opportunities. Yet the recent economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the vulnerability of MSMEs to sudden market developments.
If MSMEs are encouraged to adopt legal and sustainable sourcing and processing practices, they can be part of the solution to reducing deforestation and forest degradation.
Growing their capacities, business performance and access to legal timber will allow these enterprises to participate in supply chains destined for regulated markets. This would in turn make them more resilient as businesses, with the potential to alleviate rural poverty and reduce impacts from crises such as COVID-19.
To this end, EFI has explored approaches that help forest- and timber-based MSMEs in the Mekong region to operate legally and sustainably. In six pilot projects in four countries – Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam – EFI tested solutions to some of the key challenges that MSMEs face: low productivity and operational capacity, lack of formal registration and operating licences, and poor representation in policy processes.
EFI’s pilots demonstrate the importance of regulatory revisions for resolving key challenges to MSMEs, and the need for interventions targeting these enterprises to integrate business continuity planning. Crucially, supporting MSMEs to access finance is critical to support them to rebuild after COVID-19, and to operate legally and sustainably.
https://forestsmallholders.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Family-run-workshop-Lamphun-Thailand.jpg6291200Forest Smallholdershttps://forestsmallholders.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/ForestSmallholders_WebLogo_Tagline_3lines-12.svgForest Smallholders2020-08-27 11:42:002022-04-18 09:05:38Supporting forest- and timber-based MSMEs in the Mekong region to operate legally and sustainably
The EU FLEGT Facility has published a story describing how farmers in Thailand are starting to reap the benefits from international timber trade talks between Thailand and the European Union.
Until recently, forest laws put limitations on farmers around the harvesting and transportation of certain tree species. Organisations such as the Private Forest Plantation Cooperative Limited – a cooperative of tree growing farmers and private land owners – used the trade talks to push for amendments to forest laws to improve the situation for farmers.
In 2019, the Thai Government changed regulations regarding the use of trees on private land. Farmers can now legally harvest all trees on their land and get additional income from them without burdensome paperwork and/or field inspections.
https://forestsmallholders.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Mangkol-Wandee-measures-tree-Thailand-VPA.jpg6281200Forest Smallholdershttps://forestsmallholders.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/ForestSmallholders_WebLogo_Tagline_3lines-12.svgForest Smallholders2020-04-02 11:53:002022-04-18 09:17:53Trees give small farmers in Thailand access to loans
Reclaimed timber is contributing to Thailand’s local economy and becoming an important livelihoods source. Timber from old houses that have come to the end of their lifecycle are being bought by traders and turned into a thriving business.
The reclaimed timber supply chain started more than 10 years ago but was overlooked and unrecognized. Since a range of regulatory obstacles were removed, bureaucratic processes are being simplified and will contribute to a decrease in corruption. In turn, the earning potential for the Small and micro Economic Entities (SmEs) in Thailand that trade in this timber will have a significant boost.
https://forestsmallholders.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/dismantling-old-wooden-house-thailand-flegt.jpg6281200Forest Smallholdershttps://forestsmallholders.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/ForestSmallholders_WebLogo_Tagline_3lines-12.svgForest Smallholders2019-09-18 15:57:002022-04-15 10:52:17Old wood becomes a source of legal timber in Thailand
About the Forest Smallholders Project
Since 2016, the European Forest Institute (EFI) has been supporting wood-based micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in four Mekong countries to operate legally and sustainably. Under its Forest Smallholders Project, EFI has been testing solutions to MSMEs’ key challenges in pilot projects. Lessons learnt from these pilots are documented and disseminated nationally, regionally and internationally. Through its support to MSMEs, the Project promotes gender equality and women’s economic empowerment in the forest sector.
This website has been produced with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. The contents of this website are the sole responsibility of the authors and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of funding organisations.
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