Box 1

Community-based forest management: historical practice for transformation and resistance [1]

Community Forest Management (CFM) is a way of life and a cultural and spiritual – thus historical – practice developed by Indigenous Peoples and local communities to politically control and manage, in an organised and planned way, the land and its natural assets and resources. It is a political process that, through horizontal decision-making mechanisms, including transparency and accountability to the rest of the community, achieves conservation and sustainable use of Nature as well as social, environmental, cultural, and economic benefits.

CFM also involves aspects of appropriate technology, ancestral knowledge, and community practices of planning and organised resource use, but goes beyond simple technical management, such as in so-called sustainable forest management (advocated for by popular forestry science), which often destroys forests and biodiversity in favour of corporations.

CFM is closely linked to Agroecology. They are both broad, holistic, dynamic, and diverse approaches that respond and adapt to the geographical, ecological, and cultural conditions of each territory, its shared goods, and associated traditional knowledge. While agroecology focuses on the central elements of food, such as soils, seeds, goods on which harvesting peoples or artisanal fishing communities depend, waters and fishing or grazing areas, among others, CFM directs its actions towards the other natural and cultural goods managed, used, and protected in forests, such as trees, forest seeds, wood, fibres, fauna, and even the health of the ecosystem.

Box 2

Digitalization of agriculture and food systems

We increasingly hear that the digitalization of all aspects of life is an inevitable future that we must gladly accept. In the case of agriculture and food, there is talk of the ‘Digital Food Chain’ being the only option for solving hunger and climate problems. Digitalization, they say, will enhance agroecology, strengthen communities, and promote independence. In reality, the digitalization of agriculture opens the door to an even more extreme commodification of nature by the same old toxic agribusinesses, now in league with Big Tech giants. This includes the use of digital tools in the design of new transgenic crops, financial speculation relating to the carbon in agricultural soils, and “sustainable intensification”.

The digitalization of agri-food systems is defined as the “application of digital tools, strategies and business models to food and agriculture.” But this innocent-sounding definition hides the fact that increasing dependence on Big Tech’s digital tools can exacerbate corporate extractivism and displace human labour; that digital strategies are built on the looting of information, spying on communities and manipulating consumers; and that digital business models are about achieving more control of biodiversity and production systems and human de-skilling, through data grabbing and automated and digital processing technologies (from robots to artificial intelligence). Corporations’ aim is to be in control of what is grown, how the harvest is processed and who gets to eat it, and what is destroyed in the process.

It is important to measure the immense number of people and families who carry out agroecology within the framework of the CFM in order to reaffirm the importance of forests for the right to food.

[1] Article based on the Friends of the Earth International article, Community Forest Management and Agroecology. Links and Implications.