When a mother of two loses her husband, she can no longer gather resources from the forest by herself and must ask her eldest daughter to leave school in order to help support the family. They value the importance of the forest in their lives, but seek more support in understanding how it can fit into a sustainable future for their family. Here, the forest user group is stagnating – they need to revitalize community forestry activities so that incentives to sustainably manage the forest livelihood will also help them to move beyond subsistence.
In Myanmar, forest has declined by 50% in the past 20 years. Community forestry has the potential to contribute to improve people's livelihoods and reduce deforestation, as forests under community control have better protection than state controlled land. Although ethnic women are the primary users and managers of the forests in Myanmar, they do not have control over the forests resources and their rights have not been recognized in forestry regulations. To help ensure a sustainable future for forests and people and Myanmar, we must: strengthen local people’s, especially women’s, engagement in forested landscapes; implement land policies that address the aspirations of local people; and develop the capacity of forestry institutions to enhance local livelihoods.