The handbook emphasizes how small agroforestry farmers are an 'invisible source' of global wood supply, but they run the risk of being left out of sustainable international supply chains if they cannot distinguish their wood from that of illegal loggers. Many smallholders practice good forestry, but the complexity of mapping their supply may deter international buyers from trying to source from these potentially sustainable, but not officially accredited producers.

There are approximately 558 million small producers managing 1 billion hectares of locally-controlled agroforestry worldwide. Agroforestry is a traditional form of land use that involves the growing of trees alongside agricultural crops and/or animals. It is a common feature in communities in countries such as Laos, Indonesia, and India. The Forest Trust (TFT) works with smallholders in countries such as these to set up traceability systems, document legality of wood, and achieve FSC certification, as well as setting up long term viable business structures for the communities. Their experience over the past decade forms the basis of the handbook.

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