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Improving Legality Among Small-Scale Forest Enterprises



Driven by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, establishing a framework of national-level indicators could provide an effective way of establishing a legal and sustainable small-scale forest sector.

In many developing countries small and medium-sized forest enterprises (SMFEs) play a crucial role in rural economies. Accounting for over 50% of the forest sector workforce, and the bulk of timber production, they support hundreds of thousands of livelihoods.However, most of this activity takes place outside the formal sector, or to put it more starkly, it is illegal. With poorly designed legal and policy frameworks and a lack of political and financial support, these informal operations are often associated with poor labour standards, out-of-date technology, weak management systems and unsustainable use of resources. Which reduces their potential to make a positive contribution to sustainable development. Despite this, evidence from around the world shows a well-supported small-scale forest sector can bring positive social, economic and environmental impacts.

Presenting very different ecological, socio-political and economic contexts, case studies in Brazil, Ghana, Indonesia and Laos highlight the diverse nature of SMFEs but they share many of the same challenges. The policy and institutional framework often presents considerable difficulties. The law may be unclear as to what procedures need to be followed to obtain land tenure or use rights, a situation that also creates a window for corruption to flourish. The requirements may be technically demanding, costly and time-consuming, often because the legal framework was created for large-scale timber companies in mind. In Brazil, Laos and Indonesia many smallholders struggle with complex and expensive verification systems, putting legal timber production, and potential for extra revenue, out of their reach. The growing demand for legality verification to supply the European and US markets has also increased bureaucratic requirements and costs.

Enforcement agencies in all the countries reviewed are under-resourced, and their efforts further undermined by rampant corruption. Smallholders are often those least able to stand up to pressure to engage in illegal or corrupt activities. In 2010 it is estimated profits from illegal chainsaw logging in Ghana stood at $26 million while informal payments and bribes, at least half of which were paid to officials, amounted to $24 million. In contexts such as this, achieving reform will not only require political drive for the sector, but also changing the incentives in place for the status quo. Creating a demand for legal timber on the domestic market will also help. SMFEs usually supply the bulk of their products to local markets where there is often little demand for legal timber, as it tends to be more expensive.

Improvements to the technical assistance and support services available to the sector and establishing associations, platforms and networks amongst SMFEs will also be beneficial. In Brazil, extensive support services for smallholders have been provided in some parts of the country, and by forming forest enterprises families have been able to collaborate and share costs to form financially viable businesses. In Ghana the National Board for Small-scale Industry, Business Advisory Centres and Rural Technology Facilities have empowered trade organisations, strengthened small enterprises and improved skills and access to technology.

Despite some successful initiatives, looking across the four countries reviewed, progress with improving legality amongst the small-scale sector has been slow. However, by making a convincing case for the role that SMFEs can play in sustainable rural development, governments can utilise the sector to help combat the growing challenges of climate change, environmental degradation and social change.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) could provide increased support for the small-scale forest sector as many of the goals apply directly to SMFEs. These include ending poverty and hunger, promoting sustainable economic growth, jobs and sustainable production and consumption patterns, as well as taking action against climate change and protecting terrestrial ecosystems. By bringing attention to the sector and increasing availability of resources, they could help shift some of the incentives, particularly for governments, that have meant smaller forest operators have often been neglected in many countries.

Progress of the SDGs will be measured through a set of global indicators and countries can also implement their own national-level indicators. Developing small-scale forest sector specific indicators could play a big role in establishing sustainable economies and contribute to each country’s ability to fulfill the SDGs. These sector specific indicators could relate to security of tenure; existence of a clear and appropriate legal and policy framework; availability of technical and administrative assistance; good physical infrastructure, access to information and finance, and access to a market. They could also include: the size of the sector, level of formality, contribution to overall timber production and to the economy.

Identifying indicators within a particular country context will require the involvement of SMFEs and other stakeholders engaged throughout the forest sector supply chain, as well as policy makers and statisticians. The Voluntary Partnership Agreements set up in some countries could be a good basis on which to build. With very little information available on the small-scale forestry sector in the vast majority of countries, considerable investment will be needed in those agencies that can help to evaluate and monitor the state of the sector. However,with the provision of additional support under the SDG framework, good statistical and monitoring agencies can contribute towards developing a thriving, legal and sustainable small-scale forest sector.


Extra-Mile Water Conservation Efforts Amidst Shortage



water conserving

While some states are literally flooding due to heavy rains and run-off, others are struggling to get the moisture they need. States like Arizona and California have faced water emergencies for the last few years; water conserving efforts from citizens help keep them out of trouble.

If your area is experiencing a water shortage, there are a few things you can do to go the extra mile.

Repair and Maintain Appliances

Leaks around the house – think showerheads, toilets, dishwashers, and more – lead to wasted water. Beyond that, the constant flow of water will cause water damage to your floors and walls. Have repairs done as soon as you spot any problems.

Sometimes, a leak won’t be evident until it gets bad. For that reason, make appointments to have your appliances inspected and maintained at least once per year. This will extend the life of each machine as well as nip water loss in the bud.

When your appliances are beyond repair, look into Energy Star rated replacements. They’re designed to use the least amount of water and energy possible, without compromising on effectiveness.

Only Run Dishwasher and Washer When Full

It might be easier to do a load of laundry a day rather than doing it once per week, but you’ll waste a lot more water this way. Save up your piles of clothes until you have enough to fully load the washing machine. You could also invest in a washing machine that senses the volume of water needed according to the volume of clothes.

The same thing goes with the dishwasher. Don’t push start until you’ve filled it to capacity. If you have to wash dishes, don’t run the water while you’re washing. Fill the sink or a small bowl a quarter of the way full and use this to wash your dishes.

Recycle Water in Your Yard

Growing a garden in your backyard is a great way to cut down on energy and water waste from food growers and manufacturers, but it will require a lot more water on your part. Gardens must be watered, and this often leads to waste.

You can reduce this waste by participating in water recycling. Using things like a rain barrel, pebble filtering system, and other tools, you can save thousands of gallons a year and still keep your landscaping and garden beautiful and healthy.

Landscape with Drought-Resistant Plants

Recycling water in your yard is a great way to reduce your usage, but you can do even more by reducing the amount of water required to keep your yard looking great. The best drought-resistant plants are those that are native to the area. In California, for example, succulents grow very well, and varieties of cactus do well in states like Arizona or Texas.

Install Water-Saving Features

The average American household uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water every single day. You obviously can’t cut out things like showering or using the toilet, but you can install a few water-saving tools to make your water use more efficient.

There are low-flow showerheads, toilets, and faucet aerators. You could also use automatic shut-off nozzles, shower timers, and grey water diverters. Any of these water saving devices can easily cut your water usage in half.

Research Laws and Ordinances for Your City

Dry states like California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada must create certain laws to keep the water from running out. These laws are put into practice for the benefit of everyone, but they only work if you abide by the laws.

If you live in a state where drought is common, research your state and city’s laws. They might designate one day per week that you’re allowed to water your lawn or how full you can fill a pool. Many people are not well versed in the laws set by their states, and it would mean a lot to your community if you did your part.

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Cyprus is the Forerunner for Ecotourism



When I was looking for a second citizenship, I happened to see One Visa’s offer on Cyprus Citizenship by investment program. I had heard about Cyprus being a beautiful country, but I did not know much else, so I decided to start my own research about this gem of a place.

After I did some research, I discovered that Cyprus is a popular destination for tourists. Unfortunately, heavy tourism and the associated development affected villages here and there, with some communities being slowly abandoned. To avoid this from happening any further, Cyprus went into ecotourism, and today, it is the forerunner in this arena. Let’s look in further detail at ecotourism in Cyprus here.

How was it started?

It all started in 2006 with the launch of the “Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative.” This program has the sole scope of promoting ecotourism developments in the tourism industry. It concentrates on those areas which require conservation and environmental safety. At the same time, it helps develop social, as well as economic statuses in the rural parts of Cyprus. Through this program, the government was able to acknowledge that ecotourism will play an essential role in the future of Cyprus, with the concept gaining momentum among tourists from all over the globe.

How to go about it?

So, now you are interested in going for an ecotourism vacation in Cyprus. How will you go about it? I would immediately say that everyone should visit the quaint Cypriot villages spread throughout the island. These communities have a smaller population, and not many tourists visit. They make for a great relaxing spot. Enjoy seeing the bustle of village life go by where simple pleasures abound. Most hamlets are linked by specific minibus tours which ferry tourists to these havens. These trips will have a regular schedule, aimed at promoting ecotourism further. Such tours will be regulated to ensure that while the villages can benefit and develop, they do not get overpopulated or overcrowded with tourists. Therefore, you can be sure to enjoy the beautiful sceneries that nature has to offer here.

If you are wondering if there are any activities to do here, my answer would be: “Yes, plenty.” You can go for some guided walks across various regions here. Here you will be able to explore the diversified natural beauty and wildlife of the area. Several agritourism activities and services are planned to open shortly. Once launched, you will be able to engage in picking olives, milking goats, and several other such events here.

What can be learned?

Although we are aware that natural resources need to be preserved, we do not always remember it in real life. When we go on tours such as these, we can realize the significance of protecting nature. Also, when more and more people visit these places, the concept of ecotourism will become popular among more people. Awareness about ecotourism is set to grow and spread throughout the world. Subsequently, sustainable tourism will gain popularity around the globe with Cyprus being the forerunner for ecotourism .

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