It is an honour to share highlights of RECOFTC’s work from October 2019 to September 2020. It was a year of immense challenges for us all. As we release this report, COVID-19 is still ravaging the Asia–Pacific region. And we continue to experience rising temperatures, erratic and extreme weather, and threats of food insecurity, flooding and other natural disasters.
Against this landscape, I take to heart the stories in this report. You will meet individuals and communities who, empowered by the benefits of community forestry, are helping to achieve our collective vision of communities living equitably, securely and sustainably in and beside healthy, resilient forests.
The entry point for our work is community forestry. But the benefits are far broader than healthy forests and landscapes. They include food security, gender equality, inclusion of marginalized groups, good governance, biodiversity protection, conflict resolution, secure land and resource tenure, improved livelihoods and mitigation and adaptation to climate change. It is important for subnational, national, regional and international jurisdictions to acknowledge these contributions to meeting their commitments on climate change.
COVID-19 restrictions have affected our work, but we have remained fully operational and even expanded our services in some crucial areas. Early in the crisis, we transformed our operations rapidly to connect virtually with our partners and communities through communication and information technologies. We delivered information, masks, disinfectants and other support to remote rural communities. In addition, we launched e-learning courses and virtual training.
Before I sign off on 2019–2020, a special word of thanks to our donors, sponsors, Board of Trustees and partners for their extraordinary flexibility in this pandemic, which has allowed us to adapt rapidly to changing circumstances, and to our communities for their continued confidence and trust. At RECOFTC, we look forward to working with you to capitalize on the potential of community forestry for building back fairer and greener during and following the COVID-19 pandemic.