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Changing situation of rural and forest dwellers should be national goal

Published the:  05/10/2018

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(TAP) -Changing the situation of rural and forest dwellers should be a national goal, by devising the necessary strategies and capacities and by joining the efforts of all, said Friday Prime Minister Youssef Chahed.

Launching the "Integrated Landscapes Management in Lagging Regions Project (IFMP) in North West and Central West regions," Chahed indicated that the aim is not only to improve the living conditions of the inhabitants but also the establishment of economic rights and the creation of employment and investment opportunities for the benefit of young people from these regions, based on skills upgrading in these areas.

The project which is funded by the World Bank by means of $100 million (about 282 million dinars (MD), will benefit 18 delegations in 8 governorates.

Chahed pointed out that the efforts will focus, in the coming period, on the best use and management of natural and forest resources, in order to meet the challenges of employment, development and provide economic opportunities to rural people in North West and Central West regions, particularly for young graduates.

He said that the proposed new development plan for the exploitation of the forests and the best use of its products is based on the winner/winner principle between the main actors (State, investors and inhabitants of the forests), the achievement of social equity and the exploitation and preservation of forest reserves.

This project placed under the theme: "Towards a new development model," provides for a pilot experience in terms of forest exploitation and the establishment of a new relationship with the inhabitants. It will enable people in eight governorates of the project to exploit forest products, while in turn ensuring the maintenance and protection of forests, Chahed specified.

He renewed the government's commitment to succeed in this project, through the development of a participative relationship between all stakeholders (citizens, national organisations, professional structures, civil society and government institutions) in forest areas.

The PM called for the dissemination of the culture of "common interest," reinforcement of initiatives for stepping up investment in forest areas and enshrining the principle of equal opportunities and positive discrimination, in compliance with the principles of the 2nd Republic Constitution.

He affirmed that the government is aware of the situation of the inhabitants of these areas characterised by socio-economic vulnerability with unemployment and poverty rates that are the double of the national level. Forest areas generate between 5 and 7 million working days per year.

The prime minister added that the direct revenues of the forest and grazing sector reached in the past 5 years about 10 MD and the forest products’ export revenues about 33 MD per year.

He pointed out that 150 MD a year is reserved by the State for the protection of forests. The annual losses resulting from the pressures exerted on forest resources and pastures amount to 100 MD.