Roughly 1.6 billion people around the world depend on forest landscapes and around 1.2 billion smallholders use trees on farms to generate food and cash. Many of these people have not economic or social safety nets but the influence of different crisis, like Covid-19 has hit hard these people. The impacts of Covid-19 can be recognized on many different levels.
Afforestation and planting activities have been negatively impacted during the COVID-19. Family forestry dependent on forest-based activities and their economy has declined. Trade of forest products have had direct implications for the economic vulnerability: supply chains affected impacting on exports of timber and imports of spares and machinery. In some countries forest production is reduced, in some countries forest industry has paralyzed, however, in most of the countries operations has been going on. Some governments have stated forestry production as an essential activity and governments have created a fund for small entrepreneurs.
Illegal logging has been under observation since illegal logging has had negative influence on the forests’ quality ad timber market. Livelihoods of forest-dependent families have been suffering from decreased income and revenues, lower investments and increased costs for forest companies. Silviculture operations and community mobilization are delayed. Lockdown and harvesting season happened at the same time: delays in getting permits and approvals and impacts on harvesting patterns.
Decline in tourism affect livelihoods of those family forest owners who depended on eco-tourism and has shown directly in forest owners’ incomes. This has appeared also in the raising amount of illegal logging and illegal extraction of forest resources has occurred. At the pandemic time communities have used forests for food and fodder. Some forest owners have not had an opportunity to governments’ forest finances.
IFFA stated in the UNFF in 2017 that IFFA supports improvement of achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. Without women societies go on only with a half of power. Educating women as well as giving them equal right to work and to own property promote families’ welfare and improve prosperity in communities. COVID-19 has shown that in family forestry women and girls have been most vulnerable due to lack of jobs, more stress e.g. trying to balance work (or lack of it) with personal life. Home schooling has in some cases been impossible. Therefore, it is important to continue to support women and girls in the future as well.
IFFA highlights the importance of small forest producer’s opportunity to have an influence on political decisions at national, regional and international level in different crisis. At the same time family forest producers continue to promote sustainable forest management as a tool to secure the resilience for forest and people.