Forests provide vital resources and supplement the livelihoods of over a billion people living in extreme poverty throughout the world, the majority of whom are women. Despite their invaluable importance, forests, from rainforests to mangroves, are rapidly declining due to the encroachment of agriculture, logging, and the impacts of climate change. This not only affects those who directly rely on forests for survival, it affects us all. Forests provide oxygen and valuable resources on which all people depend. Curbing deforestation isn’t just about preserving ecosystems, its also vital to preserving human well-being.
At New Course we see a solution—Women. While women’s greater dependence on forest resources means they are disproportionately affected by the impacts of deforestation, their unique knowledge and experience in managing non-timber forest resources also provides essential tools for restoring damaged forests and preserving threatened ecosystems. However, women’s voices and unique sets of knowledge are often overlooked by conservation and development programs, their participation in community decision-making is limited, and their potential as stewards of their environment and communities is not mobilized. Enabling women to have a voice in their communities and better manage their forest resources has a massive impact on both the livelihoods of women and their communities as well as upon their environment. Where women’s potential is harnessed and nurtured, degraded forests are renewed, the resiliency of the forests on which they depend is bolstered and communities are strengthened.
New Course works to actively engage women in sustainable forest management and REDD+ programs, providing the tools and knowledge to better restore, manage and maintain the vitality of forests. We ask women what they need and provide the tools and training. From planting trees to providing alternative energy sources, engaging and enabling women provides massive returns for conservation and development programs. With greater access to resources, women have more time to grow their businesses, educate their children, and actively conserve their environments. Ultimately, enabling women in natural resource management is good for forests, good for women, and good for their communities.