International Secretariat 
Maldonado 1858; Montevideo, Uruguay 
Web page: 
Editor: Ricardo Carrere 
W R M B U L L E T I N 63 
October 2002 - English edition 
This bulletin is now also available in French, Portuguese, and Spanish. 
Please let us know if you wish to receive it in some of these languages. 
For centuries, local communities benefited from sustainable forest use. 
However, centralized control over natural resources has for many years now 
been eroding local rights and resulting in extensive deforestation 
processes. The current disaster --generated by state and corporate driven 
activities in forests-- shows the need to change course and to put forest 
management back again in the hands of local communities. The industrial 
model has clearly failed to ensure forest conservation, while 
community-based approaches show that the improvement of peoples' 
livelihoods is compatible with the sustainable use of forests. 
In order to collaborate with making this message heard, we decided to 
facilitate a collaborative effort to share experiences in community-based 
forest management, by focusing this WRM bulletin entirely on this issue 
and inviting all those concerned to participate in its preparation. As a 
result, we received a large number of articles from all over the world, 
which reflect different --though complementary-- viewpoints regarding the 
implementation of this approach in diverse social and environmental 
realities. This diversity will certainly help us all to increase our 
understanding about the problems which need to be solved to make this 
approach viable. To all of those who either wrote articles or sent us 
suggestions --or both!-- our most sincere thanks for sharing your 
knowledge and experience with us and all our readers. 
In this issue: 
- Community-Based Forest Management is not Only Possible it is Essential 
- Community-Based Forest Management: Forests for the People who Sustain 
the Forests 
- Community Forests: Emancipatory Change or Smoky Mirrors? 
- Women and Forest Resources: Two Cases From Central America 
- Mapping as a Step for Securing Community Control: Some Lessons From 
South East Asia 
- Global Caucus on Community-Based Forest Management 
- Community-Based Forest Management in WRM's Web Page 
- Steady if Hesitant Movement Towards Devolution 
- Benin: Community-Based Forest Management in the Igbodja Forest 
- Cameroon: Development of Community Forests 
- Tanzania: Joint and Community-Based Forest Management in the Uluguru 
- The Initiative on Good Forest Governance in Asia: In Support Of CBFM and 
Wider Processes 
- India: Indigenous Peoples and Joint Forest Management 
- Towards Community Forestry in Indonesia 
- Indonesia: Changes and Challenges of the Community-Based Forest 
Management Movement 
- Community Forestry in the Philippines 
- Thailand: Forests Communities to Renew Struggle for Rights 
- Central America: ACICAFOC, An On-Going Proposal 
- Nicaragua: Reforestation as Part of Community-Based Farm Planning in Rio 
San Juan 
- Community Forestry in The United States: A Growing Movement 
- USA: The National Network of Forest Practitioners 
- Brazil: Community-Based Forest Management in the Brazilian Amazon 
- Chile: Is Community-Based Forest Management Possible in the Context of a 
Neoliberal Economy? 
- Ecuador: The Awa Federation's Experience in the Management and 
Conservation of its Territory 
- Ecoforestry: A Ray of Hope in Solomon Islands 
- Community-Based Forest Management is not only possible, it is essential 
The conservation of the world's forests requires the adoption of a series 
of measures to change the current model of destruction. Now that both the 
direct and the underlying causes of forest degradation have been clearly 
identified, the next step is to take the necessary measures to address 
At the same time, a new forest management model should be adopted that 
will ensure their conservation. In this respect, it is important to note 
that in most of the countries of the world, there are many examples of 
appropriate forest management, in which environmentally sustainable use is 
assured while benefiting local communities. This type of management is 
generically known as "community-based forest management," although it 
adopts different modalities in accordance with the socio-environmental 
diversity of the places where it is developed. 
Considering the above, it is obvious that in order to ensure the 
conservation of the remnant forests of the world --and even the 
restoration of vast areas of degraded forests-- work must be undertaken 
from two different standpoints. One, by eliminating the direct and 
underlying causes of deforestation and the other, by returning 
responsibility for forest management to the communities who inhabit them, 
considering that they are the ones primarily concerned in the conservation 
of this resource. 
Therefore, in theory, the solution of the forest crisis is within reach. 
However, experience shows that for community-based forest management to 
become effective, a series of problems, both external and internal to the 
communities need to be solved. 
The solution of most of the external problems is the responsibility of 
governments. In fact, they are the ones who must create the basic 
conditions to ensure this type of management, implying a radical change in 
the policies followed for many years now. In the first place, this implies 
ensuring secure tenure of the communities over the forests. This change is 
not easy for the governments to make, given that it involves ceding power 
over forest resource use thereby affecting the interests of both state 
agencies themselves (for example, Forestry Departments), and also of the 
companies (both national and transnational) that are presently benefiting 
from State concessions. 
Although securing community land tenure is a necessary condition, in 
general it is not enough. The State should also remove a series of 
obstacles hindering community management, while providing all the support 
necessary for it to become generalised. Such measures range from 
simplifying bureaucratic formalities and reducing tax burdens, to research 
and support in marketing forest products. 
For their part, the communities themselves must adequately solve a series 
of fundamental issues, such as questions of organisation and 
administration, ensuring democratic, participatory and transparent 
management of community-managed resources. In many cases, they will need 
to recover traditional knowledge and/or adapt it to the new situation, 
while promoting equitable participation --in particular in 
decision-making-- by the community as a whole. In many cases, this 
involves addressing the gender issue and training at all levels. 
The NGOs accompanying these processes must also clearly define their role 
and limit themselves to supporting the communities, avoiding taking up a 
leading role which is not theirs and which, in the end, does little to 
strengthen the communities. At the same time, they must recognise the 
transitory nature of their assistance, seeking to transfer their knowledge 
as soon as possible to the communities themselves to enable them to become 
independent from external assistance and to take up all the functions 
involved in forest management. 
However, perhaps the main aspect to be highlighted is that community-based 
forest management is not a technical issue --without this implying that 
technical aspects should be ignored-- but a political issue. For it to 
become reality, it is therefore necessary to get organised, coordinate 
efforts, share information and develop campaigns so that the governments 
adopt policies generating the necessary conditions for forest management 
to be returned to the communities. Community-based forest management is 
not only possible, it is essential. 
- Community-Based Forest Management: Forests for the People who Sustain 
the Forests 
The world is losing its forests. All over the globe, many people are 
suffering from destructive processes that are depriving them from the 
natural resources on which they have sustained their livelihood. WRM as 
well as many organisations from around the world have long been denouncing 
this situation and supporting the peoples who are struggling to defend 
their forests and their rights. 
The story of colonial and later state appropriation and control of the 
forests under the banner of "scientific forestry" has been a common 
feature of a centralised technocratic management that was increased along 
the last century with the rise of the modern nation-state, the power of 
technology and of the global economy, eventually leading to the wholesale 
trade of the forests for the sake of industrial forestry interests. 
Scientific forestry, as imposed on the South by the North, first through 
colonialism and then through the development agencies and the UN's Food 
and Agriculture Organisation, has fatal flaws, it arrogates forest lands, 
the land of local communities, to the State and then hands out rights to 
exploit the timber to private interests. The result is an unholy alliance 
of powerful players who have a vested interest both in excluding 
communities from forests and avoiding serious limits on exploitation that 
would limit profits in the name of sustainability. 
In the case of Southern impoverished countries, timber sales have been 
servicing the spiralling debt. Such debt is built on the dependence ties 
woven by major Northern countries acting on behalf of the vested interests 
of big corporations, and supported by the mediation of the international 
financial institutions (IMF, World Bank, etc.), while at the same time 
generating enormous personal wealth for a handful of timber tycoons. That 
process has given rise to a number of factors which have put enormous 
pressure on the forests and the people living in and depending on them, 
who suffer unequal access to forest resources. The unfair terms of 
international trade have depressed commodity prices --the main exports of 
Southern countries-- triggering a never ending search of increased 
productivity at the expense of ecosystems. Along these lines, "development 
programmes" --and the infrastructure that go with them-- have been imposed 
on the impoverished and nature-rich countries by the powerful nations 
which thus benefit twofold from easy access to natural resources and the 
high interests of the loans granted to carry out those programmes, which 
regard nature as a pool of merchandises --minerals, oil, genetic 
resources, wood, land for agricultural expansion-- to be exploited for 
short-term profit. That process, graphically described by writer Eduardo 
Galeano as "the open veins of Latin America" is equally applicable to 
Southern countries throughout the world. 
The result has been forest degradation and destruction, displaced people, 
and the loss of local livelihoods and cultures. In face of that, there is 
now a growing concern to find a new way to preserve what is left of the 
world's forests. 
The WRM has put forward the urgent need for a change in the present 
relationship with the forest. Two approaches are confronted: one that sees 
the forest as land --to be exploited, to be explored, to be cleared and 
occupied, to be tilled, to be planted along large-scale monoculture 
commercial tree schemes--, and the other that sees the forest as an 
ecosystem --to be used in its multiple dimensions by and for the people 
without disrupting the necessary balance between the whole array of 
It is clear that only the second approach can ensure forest conservation 
and it is equally clear that Indigenous Peoples and other traditional and 
local communities are the ones capable and willing to implement it. They 
have a long tradition in the sustainable use of forests under common 
property regimes, where mutual dependence, shared co-operation and 
association values, and traditional laws have regulated access to and use 
of forest resources, conscious that they have been borrowing the forest 
from their children. 
We are aware that many experiences have been dismantled, knowledge has 
been lost and natural resources have been depleted in a number of places. 
Many communities have suffered external pressure which forced them out of 
their land, destroyed their livelihood, or "contaminated" them with new 
fashions and consumerism trends, all of what eventually detach them from 
their rich culture. However, before it's too late, the solution is at our 
hands reach. Indeed, it has laid there all the time. Policy-makers have 
the chance to prove their willingness to fulfil their proclaimed pledges 
of sustainability; it's just a matter of serving the interests of the 
people --over transnationals-- and to support and promote the ancient 
systems of community-based forest management which for centuries have 
enabled forest-dependent communities to sustainably manage the forest for 
a living and at the same time to be their guardians. 
The Forest: A Generous Providing Home 
For forest dwellers and forest-dependent people, the forest is their main 
shop, supplying them with food --tubers, leaves, flowers, fruits, nuts, 
fungi, worms, ants, honey, birds' eggs, small game and fish. They also 
find there building materials, medicines as well as fuelwood, and raw 
materials such as bamboo, reeds, leaves, grasses, gums, resins, waxes and 
dyes for making ropes, mats and baskets, which they can use, barter or 
sell in nearby villages. Furthermore, the forest is a great water 
provider; it is a rain catchment area which allows a balanced water 
storage and distribution. 
Last but not least, the forest is more than a mere supply-provider for 
them. It is also the place where they gather for social and cultural 
celebrations, they assemble in order to take decisions, they bury their 
dead, they assert a deep moral and spiritual interconnection through which 
they see themselves as part of the forest. 
Seeing the forest with a holistic view 
The close relationship with the forest is imbued in the forest and 
forest-dependent communities who have always had an "ecosystem approach" 
in forest management. The present trend of forest exploitation, with its 
reductionist approach, has taken things apart and disrupted the balance, 
leading to the present forest crisis. Thus, a holistic view is a necessary 
element of any community-based forest management experience. It has 
brought about a deep and wide system of knowledge with its own concepts, 
definitions and practices which have enabled a sustainable use of the 
forests along several centuries. This is still valid even now, where we 
can find examples of communities that manage to conserve and even 
sometimes restore against all odds areas of degraded forests on which they 
The forest is the source of forest and forest-dependent communities' 
livelihoods, so for them it is a matter of survival that their efforts are 
aimed at managing the forest in a way that guarantees its perpetuity. 
Otherwise, they are putting their own future at risk. However, when 
confronted by external forces that disrupt their environment, communities 
find themselves pressed to search for other means of survival that 
generally imply an unsustainable management of the scarce natural 
resources left by forest companies and other commercial and 
market-oriented interests that have usurped communities' homelands. The 
wholeness has been broken from outside, but it usually happens that forest 
and forest-dependent communities, the weakest link of the chain, the 
victims, end up being portrayed as the culprits. 
Secure tenureship for community management 
Below and above all the way of living of forest and forest-dependent 
communities lies the concept of common ownership of the forest for its 
use, management and control. The community does not "possess" the forest; 
rather, it is its guardian for which it has duties as well as rights. 
But for communities to be able to adequately fulfil the role of guardians 
they must have secure tenure over the resources contained in the forest 
and its use must be guaranteed through the governing bodies chosen by each 
community to adequately represent them. Case studies confirm that lack of 
security of land rights and user rights for communities is a major cause 
of decline in local systems of forest management. Conversely, within a 
context of conflict, security of land rights and user rights is the basis 
of forest conservation and the well-being of local forest-dependent 
Autonomy and sovereignty for local decision-making power 
The decision-making power of communities lies within their own 
representative institutions that legitimately represent their interests 
and which adopt different forms according to the local culture, the 
natural environment, and the organisation of each community. Whenever this 
has been altered to shift the power to a central government (national, 
state, provincial) the result has been the disruption of the ecosystem 
integrity with the ensuing decline of resource sustainability and the 
impoverishment of the community. 
There is no single model of community-based forest management but all of 
them have as a common trait the necessary autonomy and sovereignty of 
their legitimate authorities in order to make decisions relevant to the 
control, use and management of the resource base of the community with a 
view to fulfil the needs of its members. 
Challenges and expectations 
Community-based forest management is re-emerging as a valid alternative to 
the present pattern of industrial forest use. A large number of people, 
organisations, and processes are already working towards achieving and 
strengthening successful experiences according to their local needs, 
background and history. 
However, many challenges lay ahead and a number of questions need to be 
raised. Is it possible that isolated cases of community-based forest 
management can survive within a context where powerful actors like 
transnationals, governments, international institutions in charge of 
globalising an economic pattern of open markets and deregulation, are at 
the wheel? Will we be aware enough to make the difference between genuine 
cases and those which are just a co-option to the prevailing model? How to 
preserve the promissory model of community-based forest management from 
internal and external spurious interests? 
Most forest and forest dependent communities are no longer living in 
conditions of balanced ecosystems that long ago they managed to maintain. 
Large scale deforestation and forest degradation processes, depletion of 
forest resources with the subsequent scarcity for the surrounding 
communities have led to changes in their ways of living. In its turn, such 
alteration gives rise to new needs and values which may imply the loss of 
traditional knowledge, the shattering of old binds and beliefs which have 
been the pillar of social cohesion and cultural continuity. 
Additionally, a number of issues need to be addressed within the 
communities to ensure their internal cohesion and strength. Among these 
mention must be made of the participation of women, who have specific 
needs, perspectives, and roles. Their active participation in 
decision-making and the equitable sharing of benefits between men and 
women is crucial for ensuring the long term sustainability of 
community-based forest management. Equally important is the need to 
generate the necessary conditions to promote the active participation of 
youth, representing the future of the community. 
Getting together 
Those of us committed to support the forest and forest-dependent 
communities who struggle to maintain or recover their forests, who support 
and promote that they regain control over forest management, need to bear 
in mind that there are many obstacles --both internal and external, 
national and international-- to be sorted out. The importance of summing 
up strength and efforts and sharing experiences needs to be underscored. 
Many local, national and international organisations --including the WRM-- 
have for many years been advocating and campaigning for a change in that 
direction. In May this year, a number of those organisations decided to 
join efforts in the Caucus on Community-Based Forest Management, which 
aims at influencing global and national processes to create the necessary 
conditions for enabling local communities to manage their own forests. 
This is a first step in the right direction. 
It is now crystal clear that the industrial model leads to forest 
destruction, while community management allows for its sustainable use. 
Governments have agreed --at least on paper-- that forests need to be 
conserved in order to ensure the Planet's health. They must now be made to 
comply with their commitments and organised civil society --from the local 
to the international level-- is the key actor in ensuring that deeds match 
words. The message must be loud and clear: responsibility over forest 
management must be put back in the hands of forest and forest-dependent 
communities. Only then will forests stand a chance of surviving. 
- Community Forests: Emancipatory Change or Smoky Mirrors? 
A groundswell of support appears to be building for community forests, if 
we believe the rhetoric of the World Bank, the United Nations, and NGOs 
all over the world. For example, Objective 3: Goal 4 in the Forest Work 
Programme approved by the 6th Party to the Convention on Biological 
Diversity reads: "Enable indigenous and local communities to develop and 
implement adaptive community-management systems to conserve and 
sustainably use forest biological diversity". 
Now, no one likes a pessimist, but I have some serious reservations about 
the supposedly blissful track of community forests, including some of the 
success stories I have come to rely on in my own advocacy. I wonder, do 
some community forest schemes actually enable state actors to extend their 
reach and control over forests? That is, while community forests purport 
to address power and governance over forests, how many really challenge 
or, more importantly, change state authority? Research by Arun Agrawal in 
Kumaon, India, noted that even in so-called community forests, the state 
continues to "outline the ways in which resources can be used, define who 
is empowered to use these resources, and extend their control further and 
more intensively into given territories." (Agrawal, Arun, 'State Formation 
in Community Spaces', 1998) Furthermore, Agrawal's research found that 
these community forests did little to further the interests of the most 
marginalized members of the communities. 
Nepal's community forests also seem to be heading down this track. Changes 
to National Forest policies are encroaching on community autonomy over 
forest lands in insidious ways. The forestry department has enacted 
stringent measures which make it very difficult and expensive for 
communities to develop and maintain control over forests. For example, 
communities are now required to do intensive forest inventories that the 
government itself does not even do on the national lands. The government 
is also beginning to charge high taxes on forest products produced by 
communities. (Kaji Shrestha, FECOFUN, pers. comm., August 2002). 
Devolution of real power and authority is only one part of the community 
forest challenge. Community forests are bound to remain marginal if our 
societies (particularly those in the North, and Southern elites) remain on 
the current trajectory of high-throughput economic growth and industrial 
consumption. The most valuable forests and largest proportion of forests 
still remain in the hands of the state, and in large companies --where 
profits can be captured. It seems community forest movements need to 
address central issues of consumption and economic development as a part 
of their strategy. Unfortunately, the consumptive aspect of forest 
conservation has largely remained on the sidelines for governments and 
NGOs alike. Ashish Kothari states (in reference to the lack of reference 
to northern consumption in the Forest Work Programme of the Convention of 
Biological Diversity): "Ah, so while poor communities are expected to take 
action to restrict their meagre consumption, the rich will only be obliged 
to 'become aware' of their consumption. And then maybe, once they are 
aware, they will be nice enough to reduce their impact on the world." 
(Kothari, Ashish 'Let the Poor Pay for the Excesses of the Rich', ECO 
6(2), 2002). 
Community forests have the potential to create great change in the way we 
live with forests and each other. Community forests have the potential to 
empower marginalized people, deepen democracy, conserve biodiversity, and 
undermine established (and often oppressive) relations of power. This is 
happening in many places already to differing extents. But it is not easy, 
nor simple. If community forestry is going to move off the sidelines, it 
will have to confront an entrenched system of forest liquidation and 
consumption. Recognizing, revealing and removing the smoky mirrors of 
"community forests" is a pressing challenge --community-based must mean 
more than communities helping the state manage national forests. 
By Jessica Dempsey, International Network of Forests and Communities, 
- Women and Forest Resources: Two Cases from Central America 
In Guatemala, in spite of the fact that 20% of the forest regions are 
under systems of protected areas, the continuous advance of the 
agricultural frontier, a result of the unequal distribution of means of 
production --particularly land-- has left a trail of poverty and social 
exclusion. This situation is more serious in rural zones where most of the 
population depends on forests. 
Indigenous and peasant groups are among the most affected, obliged to 
settle and inhabit fragile ecosystems lacking basic services. However, 
groups of women have sought alternative organisational forms to manage 
natural resources in forest systems. In this article we will present two 
cases, one set in a coniferous ecosystem in the West of the country (in 
the Department of Huehuetenango) and the other in the North of the country 
in one of the most important tropical forest ecosystems of the Central 
American region, in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, Department of Peten. 
The information submitted comes from two case studies carried out by the 
Environmental Area of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences 
(FLACSO) at its Guatemala Academic Centre, as part of its research 
activities on community-based forestry and local institutionality. In the 
Huehuetenango region, groups of Kanjobal indigenous women have organised 
themselves to manage their forests through a programme of forestry 
incentives supported by the Government through the National Forestry 
Institute (Instituto Nacional de Bosques - INAB). Starting with a project 
to improve the social conditions of Kanjobal women affected by the 
internal armed conflict, the women organised themselves through the 
Association of Eulalen Women for Comprehensive Development Pixan Konob 
(AMEDIK) Corazón del Pueblo. Since they launched the project, 143 hectares 
have been reforested already and 246 hectares are managed under natural 
regeneration systems. The forests are jointly managed with three 
municipalities, as they are located in communal areas and on municipal 
lands. In this case, the municipalities report to INAB and receive 
approximately 1.5 to 2.0% on the total accrued from the forestry 
incentives. This synergy has made it possible for groups of women to have 
access to the incentives, as without deed titles they were unable to do 
so. Close on 500 families are presently participating in the project and 
over the past four years, AMEDIK has received nearly US$100,000 as part of 
the incentives. 
In the Maya Biosphere Reserve there are community concessions representing 
rental contracts for 25 years, for organised groups to manage forests in a 
comprehensive manner. This amounts to approximately 400,000 hectares that 
are divided into 15 community concessions. This is considered to be one of 
the most important regions in the world under indigenous and peasant 
community management. 
However, the process involving the women of the region has been slow, and 
has been marked by generalised opposition by the men, who alleged that 
economic profit sharing is not fair when two members of the same family 
are in the organisation. Therefore, there are organised groups with no 
women members and others where wives and daughters can obtain the right to 
be member only if the husband is dead or there are no male children. 
Presently, women participating in the concessions amount to approximately 
15%. The groups of women carrying out tasks in the forest are focused on 
the extraction of non-timber products such as wicker (Monstera sp), 
berries (Desmuncus sp) and xate (Chamaedorea sp), mainly for handicrafts 
or to make furniture, while others prefer to participate in the 
eco-tourism projects. Forestry-management activities are classed as 
needing hard labour and correspond to men. 
Summing up, although it is true that the gender issue and involvement of 
women have been promoted by foreign development bodies, there are certain 
factors that prevent women becoming involved in forestry-management 
activities. Firstly, the system for land distribution used in the past did 
not allow women to have access to land deeds. Other variables, such as 
education and health show that the most vulnerable groups are indigenous 
women. In spite of the fact that some groups such as AMEDIK have achieved 
access to forestry management under forestry incentives, this has not been 
possible without being accompanied by the municipalities. Furthermore, 
while forest management changes from timber use to comprehensive 
management, women participating in community concessions will have to face 
a long road towards recognition and participation in alternative 
management of non-timber resources and handicrafts. 
By Iliana Monterroso, FLACSO-Sede Académica Guatemala; e-mail: 
- Mapping as a Step for Securing Community Control: Some Lessons from 
South East Asia 
Community forestry requires secure tenure, if the local people are to have 
any confidence that they will reap the benefits of their efforts. 
Community mapping can be a powerful tool to help communities think about 
the lands, represent their land use system and assert their rights to the 
forests they seek to control. 
The use of geomatic mapping technologies by indigenous peoples to 
demonstrate their relationship to their lands and to mount land claims is 
a relatively recent phenomenon. In South East Asia the basic idea and the 
technology was introduced in the early 1990s and the technique has since 
spread rapidly. Community level mapping exercises are now underway in 
India, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands 
and Thailand. 
At their best, mapping projects directly involve community members in the 
survey of the land use and boundaries of the own domains. The technologies 
used vary widely. At their simplest, as used in Thailand, maps may be 
hand-made 3D maps, made by cutting shapes along contour lines derived from 
government base maps enlarged to a 1:15,000 scale. Vegetation zones, 
roads, land use data, village sites and the boundaries of land claims can 
then be painted onto the models by the local community members. These maps 
have proved to be useful tools for community mobilisation and 
village-level discussions of land claims and natural resource management 
Other mapping exercises are using geomatic (mainly GPS) or traditional 
surveying techniques to locate data on maps. Although these techniques do 
allow community members to decide what is put into the maps, they do, 
however, generally rely to some extent on trained personnel from outside 
NGOs to prepare the base maps, record the field data directly on the maps, 
or in the computer, and print up the final maps. Higher technologies, such 
as sophisticated Global Information Systems, while allowing much more 
subtle use of colours, layers and data sets, increase the conceptual 
distance between those with the indigenous knowledge in the communities 
and those who make the maps. Community control and a sense of ownership of 
the maps can be attenuated accordingly and there is a risk that the 
technical NGOs consider themselves and not the villagers to be the owners 
of the maps. 
There is a tendency for support NGOs helping indigenous peoples with 
mapping, to adopt progressively more sophisticated systems driven by their 
own thirst for knowledge, fascination with the technology and a will to 
get ahead of and outwit government administrators. The risk is that the 
mapping process becomes more and more remote from indigenous priorities 
and in the end becomes yet another form of administrative annexation, this 
time by NGOs, against which the indigenous peoples have to struggle. Clear 
mutual agreements on who has the intellectual property rights to maps 
--they should be vested with the communities not with the NGOs-- and 
greater investment in training the indigenous leadership in the 
manipulation of data and the new technologies are part of the answer to 
this emerging problem. 
In the field, there are a number of other difficulties that mapping 
exercises have to overcome. The first is that they tend to freeze what are 
in reality fluid boundaries and systems of land use. Hard lines are drawn 
where fuzziness and ambiguity may, in fact, prevail. Mappers in Mindanao, 
in the Southern Philippines, for example, find that traditional areas of 
land use expand and contract seasonally. In Borneo, communities move 
around as lands in the immediate vicinity become 'used up'. Boundaries of 
hunting grounds shift accordingly. Secondly, the maps do not just include 
--more or less successfully-- the concepts of the community mappers, they 
exclude the concepts of those who are not involved, both people within the 
communities (often women) or areas in question (often lower caste or lower 
status groups) and those outside them or on their boundaries (neighbouring 
communities). Successful mapping initiatives depend on both adequate 
community preparation within the area to be mapped and on prior agreement 
with neighbouring groups on the boundaries between villages or ethnic 
groups. This problem can be exaggerated, however, and a common solution 
where inter-community boundaries are disputed is to map the boundaries 
that extend around all the communities and leave resolution of the 
disputes of the internal boundaries to the future, preferably according to 
customary law and procedures. 
Within the region, the process of mapping indigenous lands has probably 
gone furthest in the Philippines, where something like 700,000 hectares of 
community lands have been mapped out of a total of 2.9 million hectares so 
far registered with the government as Ancestral Domains. The experience 
there has revealed a number of additional problems. One is that customary 
areas and boundaries frequently do not coincide with existing 
administrative boundaries. Villages can thus find that they are subject to 
several "barangay", district or even provincial jurisdictions, which 
entails complicated negotiations if the regularisation of tenure is then 
sought. Unusually, in the Philippines NGO-made maps can be accepted by the 
local administration as authoritative documents on which to base land 
claims and not just as advocacy tools, which is the way they are used in 
many other areas. In this case, increasing precision in the survey 
techniques is called for, requiring more specialised training of mappers 
and implying a closer interaction with the local administration. 
Those involved in mapping emphasise the need for preparation, training and 
community-level capacity building as an integral part of any mapping 
project. Preparatory meetings, workshops and visits are crucial for the 
long-term success of the mapping exercises themselves. Establishing 
community consensus and agreement on the goals and practices of the 
project is a necessary first step and some NGOs make consensus decisions a 
pre-condition to their involvement in helping to map any area. Community 
control and sense of ownership depends not only on formal agreements 
--which are vital-- but also on quite detailed training of community 
members to ensure that at least some in each mapped community are 
comfortable with the details of the technology and the way it is being 
used to represent local knowledge. Unduly abbreviated training is the main 
weakness in many projects. Since maps are just tools in a much longer 
process of establishing a community's control over its lands and natural 
resources, the long term usefulness of mapping projects also depends on 
adequate capacity-building and community mobilisation. A frequent 
complaint is that outside donors tend not to provide enough funds for this 
element, as they seek quick and visible results and are wary of creating 
dependency --a legitimate concern. 
Participatory mapping is here to stay as part of the tool-kit used by the 
indigenous movement. Communities have discovered that it is powerful, as 
much for community organising, strategising and control as for 
communicating local visions to outsiders. Mapping can help build community 
coherence and reaffirm the value and importance of traditional knowledge, 
recreating respect for elders and customary resource management practices. 
Perhaps one of the most important benefits of the mapping movement is that 
it has provided a tool for the indigenous leadership to address 
community-level concerns, thus helping them maintain ties with their 
constituents as they engage in political negotiations at the national 
level. Maps have also proved vitally important tools to indigenous 
communities confronting the impositions of logging, mining, plantation and 
conservation schemes. By use of maps, communities and NGOs have been able 
to demonstrate conclusively the overlaps between indigenous lands and 
imposed concessions. They have also been used to expose the incompetence 
of different line ministries, whose maps are so very often erroneous and 
have created horrendous confusions in the overlap between different 
jurisdictions and concessions. 
Initial enthusiasm for community-mapping led to it being considered a 
'magic bullet' that could resolve land conflicts and promote 
community-based forest management, in one shot. Experience has quickly 
taught most of those involved that mapping is just a tool --a very 
powerful tool in the right hands-- in a much longer struggle to reform 
land ownership systems, indigenous self-governance and government systems 
of administration. To be effective, mapping exercises need to be 
integrated into long term community strategies and be clearly linked to 
broader strategies for legal, policy and institutional reforms. The charge 
that the mapping 'craze' has diverted attention away from other pressing 
issues --like political organisation, tenure reform, legal changes and 
national policy reforms-- has some weight. However, the lessons are being 
learned fast and a more skilled and mature mapping 'movement' is emerging 
as a result. 
By Marcus Colchester, Forest Peoples Programme, e-mail: 
- Global Caucus on Community-Based Forest Management 
In May 2002, a number of people attending the 4th Preparatory Meeting for 
the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), decided 
to group themselves under a common banner in order to influence government 
delegates on the need for the global community to recognize 
community-based and indigenous forest management as a viable tool for 
alleviating poverty and sustaining the Earth's environment. After just a 
few days of organizing --and despite warnings that they were beginning 
their efforts too late-- they were successful in securing this recognition 
in text being negotiated by the delegates. The Global Caucus on 
Community-Based Forest Management was thus born. 
The Caucus, which currently includes more than 200 members from over 30 
countries held again a number of meetings and carried out numerous 
activities some months later at the Johannesburg Summit. Rumours about the 
Caucus' effectiveness spread, and it was invited to facilitate an open 
forum on forests, the results of which was formally transmitted to the UN. 
The Caucus also spent time strategizing for the future, exploring goals 
such as: 
1) Encourage national governments and international agencies to: 
- Strengthen local and community governance 
- Increase efforts to legalise and protect land tenure 
- Strengthen community participation in policy development and 
- Expand market opportunities for forest communities and small forest 
- Increase research into community-based forest management and expand its 
- Discontinue and avoid programs that limit local peoples' access to 
- Increase forest monitoring and indicator systems that permit the 
evaluation of deforestation and degradation 
2) Achieve recognition for community-based and indigenous forestry as a 
viable tool for achieving sustainable development, both at home and 
3) Monitor, ensure, and evaluate the implementation of international 
commitments to community-based and indigenous forestry. 
4) Secure political, monetary, and technical support --and respect-- from 
international agencies and organizations, and home governments. 
5) Enable practitioners of community-based forest management to share 
knowledge and experiences, and provide them with a meaningful voice in 
international discussions, for example by improving civil society 
participation in United Nations Forum on Forests and the Collaborative 
Partnership on Forests. 
6) Serve as a resource for governments, organizations, and people 
interested in supporting community-based forestry. 
7) Support people and organisations working on related issues, including 
(but not limited to) land rights, environmental justice, and sustainable 
agriculture and fisheries. 
8) Work closely with other forest groups, such as Global Forest Coalition 
and World Rainforest Movement, and support colleagues working in related 
areas, including (but not limited to) land rights, environmental justice, 
and sustainable agriculture and fisheries. 
At the last meeting, the Caucus agreed to establish the following 
provisional regional nodes for the next 6-8 months: 
- RECOFTC (Karen Edwards, e-mail: 
- Forest Action Network (Dominic Walubengo, e-mail: 
- ACICAFOC (Alberto Chinchilla, e-mail: 
- National Network of Forest Practitioners (Thomas Brendler, e-mail: 
EUROPE (provisional) 
- Global Forest Coalition (Miguel Lovera, e-mail: 
- World Rainforest Movement (Ricardo Carrere, e-mail: 
In the coming months and years, Caucus members look forward to joining 
forces to support community-based and indigenous forestry worldwide, 
through such activities as sharing knowledge and skills, collaborating on 
the ground, and providing a meaningful voice for forest peoples in policy 
development. Some Caucus members have already begun working together on 
community-based monitoring projects, the challenges of protected areas, 
and organizing events for the World Forestry Congress in Quebec City next 
To join the Caucus, just send a blank e-mail to 
Once you're on, send a quick note introducing yourself to the group. 
- Community-Based Forest Management in WRM's Web Page 
In addition to the monthly bulletin, another tool used by WRM to support 
and disseminate the issues on which it centres its activities is the web page. In the section on "information by subject" 
various categories are listed, among them, community-based forest 
management. Under this item, we include all the articles published in the 
WRM bulletin on the subject, in addition to other documents of interest 
and links to other pages related with this type of management. We invite 
all those who are working in the field of community-based forest 
management and who have an article, research work or experience they wish 
to disseminate, to send it to us so it can be included it in this section, 
with the corresponding credits, and thus the experience can be shared with 
many people. 
The specific address to access this section is: 
- Steady if Hesitant Movement Towards Devolution 
Key trends among the plethora of early participatory forest management 
(PFM) developments have been observed. These include increasing 
empowerment of local communities in forest management, and emergence of 
these populations as a cadre of forest managers in their own right. It has 
been noted that this stems in part from local demand, crystallised through 
participation. It also arrives through recognition by forestry 
administrations of the heavy and perhaps needless time and investment 
incurred through sustained operational roles themselves and/or supervising 
community roles. 
Whilst some programmes have begun with power sharing in mind, most have 
come to this position through learning by doing, and increasingly, some 
degree of observation as to what works and does not work in neighbouring 
states. This manner of transition has been quite evident in the changing 
character of projects in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Malawi, Burkina Faso and 
Mozambique. It is likely to continue as PFM practice continues to refine. 
This may well include programmes in Zambia, Ghana and Ivory Coast where 
committees so far established are more for consultation than sharing 
decision-making, naming of those efforts as 'joint forest management' 
Indisputably, the flagship of this transition (and PFM overall) is the 
Community Forest. As already observed, the construct is most developed in 
Cameroon, The Gambia and Tanzania but the construct exists more widely and 
with increasingly legal definition. Whilst the overall notion of 
'community forests' is fairly consistent around the continent, its 
development is still curtailed in a range of ways. 
First, for example, whilst most communities define the community forest 
area themselves, in some states, limitations are placed upon its size 
Second, declaration of Community Forests is almost everywhere accompanied 
by important socio-institutional developments at the community level, in 
the form of variously constituted bodies, mandated to implement the forest 
management plan agreed to or devised by community members. 
Third, whilst community tenure, albeit of usually a customary and 
unregistered nature, is implied, formal recognition of this is still rare 
and/or expressed in ambivalent terms. A main exception is The Gambia where 
a formal transfer of tenure is integral to finalisation of a Community 
Fourth, in both legal and operational terms, fully autonomous community 
jurisdiction is rarely attained. 
Most Community Forests come into being only with and through the formal 
agreement of the state and under terms largely set by it --the case even 
in The Gambia. In countries like Nigeria, Burkina, Faso, Togo, Malawi, 
Ghana, Benin and Mozambique, recognition of local tenure is conversely 
overlaid by quite stringent state control over how the forest is actually 
used. Nonetheless, Community Forests represent a significant departure 
from twentieth century forest management practice and related 
classification of forests. Inter alia, they open the way for a widening 
range of gazetted non-government forest estates. 
Extracted from: "Participatory Forest Management in Africa. An Overview of 
Progress and Issues", by Liz Alden Wily, 25 February 2002, posted on the 
CBNRM Net's Web Page: 
- Benin: Community-Based Forest Management in the Igbodja Forest 
In most of the African countries, claims concerning community-based forest 
and natural resource management have arisen as a reaction to the 
repressive nature of natural resource laws inherited from Colonial times. 
Forestry laws in force in the post-Colonial period compromised local 
community rights to forest ownership. Licences and other forms of taxes so 
far unknown to local communities were imposed to control the exploitation 
of forest products that the local inhabitants had had free access to 
previously, either for their domestic consumption or for marketing. 
With the increase in the population, the demand for arable land also 
increased. In the Igbodja region, four communities occupied the forest, 
mainly composed of Tchabê peoples. These welcomed other peoples from the 
South and the North (the Fon, the Ahoussa and the Peulh), which in turn 
set up twenty more communities. The struggle for survival then became 
increasingly difficult. Forest destruction has been aggravated over the 
past years by the numerous population seeking a means of living, without 
respecting minimum conservation rules. 
To palliate this situation the authorities of ACTION Plus NGO, after 
obtaining economic support from the IUCN Dutch Committee to carry out a 
study on this forest, encouraged the inhabitants of the zone to launch 
activities aimed at implementing community-based forest management. 
In order to initiate the population in community-based forest management 
and management of other natural resources, needs were identified and 
participation was planned and work was done on awareness building; visits 
to the stakeholders were made and agreements and protocols established 
with a view to obtaining the greatest local participation possible in this 
process. The identification of the real owners of the land was an 
important step. The local populations are going to carry out surveys to 
prepare a plan of the zone covered by community-based forest management. 
In the framework of the study on endogenous flora and fauna, the 
inhabitants participated in the plantation of 15,000 stands of Senegalese 
Khaya. The village of Igbodja, bearing the same name as the forest, will 
make available to the population a community space of 5,000 hectares to 
initiate true community-based forest management. The other four villages 
are still at the discussion stage but we believe that each village will 
have its own space integrated into community management. Additionally, all 
have their own nurseries. 
The breeding of hedgehogs (Thryonomys swinderianus) has started and 
beekeeping has been introduced in two villages to halt the frequent plant 
fires in the region. 
In order to carry out this project, it is necessary to be able to read the 
texts of laws. For this purpose, a literacy programme in the local 
language was set up, involving 60 people per village, with a total of 300, 
directed by local teachers. 
At present, latent conflicts are related with degradation of agricultural 
biodiversity. Large-scale, non-native roving farmers plant new areas every 
year, thus destroying more and more forest areas. The native inhabitants 
complain about the situation and threaten to throw them out. These roving 
farmers cannot plant trees as they are considered as tenants and tenants 
are not allowed to plant trees on other people's lands. In the framework 
of our task, all must have their own roles and nobody should be left out. 
The contribution of all to community-based forest management is a 
    From our work, it has become evident that our legislation on forest 
matters is inappropriate. We have approached the Forestry and Natural 
Resource Office officials asking them to prepare suitable laws on this 
matter, taking into consideration the workshops held in Gambia in 1999. A 
national workshop is expected to be held with the participation of all the 
stakeholders, including NGOs. Thus, we will be able to generalise the 
technique of community management and progress from being merely a pilot 
project. The population will then fully participate in the sustainable 
development of forest resources and this gap will be bridged when the 
mayors take on management of their respective localities as stipulated in 
the law, interrupting forest degradation. It is a desire that has 
repeatedly been expressed by the population. 
Extracted from Stéphan OGOU's report: "Résumé de l'étude de la 
biodiversité de la forêt Igbodja", sent by the author, ACTION Plus NGO, 
e-mail: The full version, in French, is available at 
- Cameroon: Development of Community Forests 
Community forests are a new kind of mechanism of progressive local 
community responsibility for forest and forest resource management. So 
far, thirty-five community forests have been allocated by the Ministry of 
the Environment. 
The results of management models developed so far have been discrete and 
limited, and experience is fairly recent. Most of them are still at a 
learning stage. 
On a social and cultural level, the model developed in community-managed 
forests in the region is one of partnerships. Following some questioning, 
this model has recently reached a certain degree of stability, with the 
exception of the Bimboué forest, where it is subject to conflicts that are 
progressively being solved. 
The main advantages of such a model are the following: the functionality 
of the partnership model, the beginnings of an improvement in the habitat, 
children's education, learning through action, dissemination of the 
activity, the capacity to defend their rights, the strengthening of 
minority communities (the Baka, women, etc.). 
However, problems do exist: the communities' model of organisation, in 
spite of its relevance and functionality in the local sociological 
context, remains foreign to local social structures which hold 
attributions and power regarding natural resource management 
(incompatibility of the present model of partnership with the endogenous 
form of representation and the social structure, much incomprehension due 
to the appearance of new structures in the villages as the communities do 
not recognise themselves in the model developed, non-integration of women 
in decision-making). 
    From an economic standpoint, the management models developed had both 
positive and negative impacts. For example, they facilitated the creation 
of jobs in the village --with a subsequent reduction in rural exodus-- the 
payment of debts, the strengthening of a forum, the training of local 
experts and technicians, the beginning of a process towards improving the 
habitat, the construction of chapels, health help and care, the building 
of outpatients clinics, etc.). 
However, various problems arose at that level: current financial 
management of income generated by community forests is not sustainable. It 
is not based on any scientific management system. Most of the activities 
undertaken with financial income generated by exploitation of community 
forests do not respond to income management planning prepared prior to the 
arrival of funds in the communities. 
Most of the actions undertaken so far were not initially foreseen in the 
simple management plans and are not always aimed at a community objective. 
Finally, on a technical and ecological level, two technical approaches to 
exploitation have been used so far in the community forests: industrial 
exploitation and artisan exploitation. 
Industrial exploitation has been carried out by the Bimboue community 
(East Cameroon) in collaboration with forestry companies selected by the 
directors of the association. Through this modality, they were able to 
exploit the timber potential of the community forest and generate funds 
for use in community works. However, this means of appreciation of 
community forest resources suffered many setbacks, mainly due to conflicts 
of interests and of power regarding the management of income from logging. 
It has been prohibited by the forestry regulations presently in force. 
Artisan exploitation is presently the sole and unique form of exploitation 
practised in community forests. For example, it is operational in five 
community forests in Lomié in East Cameroon. Most of these forests are 
implementing a second contract with the beneficiaries, however in some 
cases such as that of Ngola, they do not have a formal contract with the 
partner. The first contracts were not performed for various reasons: 
non-compliance with deadlines for payments, poor use of the timber logged, 
ridiculously low prices for the cubic metre of timber, insufficient 
training of local technicians. 
Progress made was: respect for the minimum diameter of exploitation, 
existence of monitoring commissions, protection of multiple use essences 
(wild fruit-trees and others), family exploitation of non-timber forest 
products and of the fauna, the preparation of an inventory covering 100% 
of the area open up to exploitation, community participation in 
prospecting, short-term contracts with partners (3 months), training in 
basic forestry techniques, an isolated case of manual opening up of roads, 
transportation of timber on men's heads. 
The problems are: lack of materialisation of external boundaries; lack of 
respect for boundaries (related with the method of partner exploitation); 
weakening of the monitoring commission in some communities; lack of 
control over exploitation of non-timber forest products; 
awareness-building does not always achieve the expected effect (risk of 
not carrying out rotation); prospecting plan not available in the 
community context; absence of a programme; sacrifice and risk associated 
to transportation of timber on men's heads (risk of accidents); lack of 
data on other resources (non-timber forestry resources); lack of a hunting 
plan for fauna management (fauna exploitation continues on an individual 
and domestic basis). 
However, in spite of the limitations found in the process, real enthusiasm 
is observed on the part of local communities. This enthusiasm reflects the 
increasing desire of village communities to participate in forestry 
resource management and in this way, through forest management, contribute 
to improving their living conditions. 
Extracts from Patrice Bigombe Logo's briefing: "Foresterie Communautaire 
et Réduction de la Pauvreté Rurale au Cameroun: Bilan et tendances de la 
première décennie", sent by the author, Research and Action Center for 
Sustainable Development in Central Africa (Centre de Recherche et d'Action 
pour le Développement Durable en Afrique Centrale /CERAD), e-mail: (The full version, in French, is available at 
- Tanzania: Joint and Community-Based Forest Management in the Uluguru 
Recent changes in the Forest Policy of Tanzania (1998) and the forthcoming 
new Forest Act which further operationalises that Policy, have paved the 
way for several changes in the way that forest conservation might be 
achieved in Tanzania, including guidelines on the development of 
Community-Based Forest Management (CBFM) and Joint Forest Management 
(JFM). These changes also mean alterations in the potential roles of the 
Forestry Department, the local communities and various conservation NGOs. 
The Uluguru Mountains cover a huge area of rugged terrain rising to over 
2500 m a.s.l. located within parts of 6 Political Divisions. There are 
four government forestry staff with responsibility for 13 Forest Reserves 
on the Ulugurus, containing over 200 sq km of forest. The tops of the 
large mountain peaks are found in two large Catchment Forest Reserves 
(Uluguru North and South) managed by the Catchment Forestry Project under 
the central government Forestry and Beekeeping Division. These two 
reserves were the most important source of water in the country as they 
supplied water to Dar es Salaam and also held globally important 
biodiversity values. There are also Catchment Forest Reserves on the lower 
slopes of these mountains, and a few smaller forest reserves owned by the 
local authority and managed by the District Forest Officer through the 
District Council. 
The project chose a focal area in Mkuyuni Division that contained part of 
the Uluguru North Catchment Forest Reserve, the largest (former) area of 
General Land Forest and some Local Authority Reserves. As these forest 
areas are (or were) contiguous with the forests of the Uluguru North 
Catchment Forest reserve they are hence ecologically similar and 
surrounded by people practising similar lifestyles, and it was believed 
that they could provide a good test area for involving local people in 
forest management. 
As part of the project, some activities were carried out in the General 
Lands (CBFM) and Local Authority Reserves (JFM) in the focal area: 
- a workshop on JFM involving all village leaders to create awareness 
amongst these leaders on environmental conservation and issues pertaining 
to the new vision for forest management contained in the 1998 forest 
- exchange visits to other parts of Tanzania where there are working 
examples of these management systems. 
- the use of aerial photographs and field surveys enabled the forest cover 
to be mapped in the project area to identify the remaining forest. 
- village meetings in the project area to inform participants on the 
environmental importance of the Uluguru Mountains, and the new changes in 
Forest Policy which would allow them more control over forested land in 
their village lands (through Village Forest Reserves - CBFM), and also 
allowed them opportunities for discussing with the government on user 
rights for Forest Reserves (JFM agreements). 
- the promotion of local management authorities development. 
The work on CBFM and JFM in Mkuyuni Division of the Uluguru Mountains is 
still at an early stage. Presently most effort is being put into getting 
the remaining Kitumbaku forest reserve declared as Village Forest Reserves 
for management by six different villages. It will be a major achievement 
to stop the last of the forests on the Kitumbaku/Kitundu Hills being 
converted into banana plantations, and to also safeguard the drinking 
water supplies for the six surrounding villages. Part of the boundary is 
already surveyed and all four villages have accepted the need for the 
reserve to protect their water sources through the creation of a Village 
Forest Reserve. 
The following lessons learnt in the General Forest Lands and Local 
Authority Forest Reserves on the slopes of the Ulugurus have a direct 
bearing on the development of future JFM in the Uluguru North and Uluguru 
South Catchment Forest Reserves, as well as other areas: 
- the most important forest areas on the Ulugurus are under the authority 
of Catchment Forestry who have a mandate to protect the nationally 
important water catchment functions for Dar es Salaam and Morogoro towns, 
and the globally important biodiversity values in the forests. 
- it has been noted the lack of information available to design and then 
implement JFM in the Ulugurus. In 10 villages in one Division sufficient 
data were collected to move CBFM and JFM forwards over a period of three 
years. However, it is difficult to understand the land ownership patterns 
sufficiently to ensure that the agreements made with village governments 
will be respected by Luguru clan groups, or other land ownership and 
management bodies on the Ulugurus. 
- mapping of Ward and Village boundaries, has shown that 50 villages 
border the two large Catchment Reserves within 19 Wards and 6 Divisions. 
The villages on the Uluguru Mountain slopes and adjacent lowlands 
contained a total population of around 400,000 people in 1988, and 
probably somewhat more than that now. The experience of defining village 
use zones for 6 villages within a single piece of forest on the General 
land indicates that defining boundaries for 50 villages within the Uluguru 
North and South Forest Reserves will take considerable time to negotiate 
successfully. Methods for marking these boundaries also need to be 
- the positive attitude of some local people who would like to have forest 
areas under their own management, to better protect the forests and 
especially their water supplies. However, there are also power struggles 
within each village between elements of village government who would like 
to allocate forest land for farming, and the newly created forest 
committees who would like to establish management systems for those 
Although the work at the Uluguru Mountains is still at an early stage, all 
means and efforts have been made since it has been initiated, to make it a 
success. We hope it will encourage other communities all around the world 
to practise similar lifestyles. 
Extracted from: "Community-Based Forest Management and Joint Forest 
Management, Some Beginnings in the Ulugurus", Ernest Moshi, Neil Burgess, 
Eliakim Enos, Joseph Mchau, John Mejissa, Shakim Mhagama and Lameck Noah, 
sent by Nike Doggart - Tanzania Forest Conservation Group, e-mail: 
- The Initiative on Good Forest Governance in Asia: In Support of CBFM and 
Wider Processes 
The seed for the initiative on Good Forest Governance (GFG) in Asia was 
planted at the Forest, Trees and People Program (FTPP) meeting held in 
Daman, Nepal, April 2000. Partners at that meeting recognized the need to 
involve civil society more actively in community-based forest management 
(CBFM), as well as the possible roles of a regional association to support 
this process. 
Two years later, the GFG seed began to germinate with the support of a 
Ford Foundation grant to the Regional Community Forestry Training Centre 
for Asia and the Pacific (RECOFTC) aimed at testing: 
* The feasibility of a GFG program with existing and new RECOFTC partners 
* Whether a regional association or alliance to support GFG would be 
* Whether the GFG initiative could be linked to the World Summit on 
Sustainable Development (WSSD) process to gain mutual leverage 
During the past months, a series of planning events in Thailand --coupled 
with GFG workshops and related events at the WSSD PrepCom IV in Bali and 
the Summit in Johannesburg-- have led to the development of workplans, new 
partnerships, and the launching of an Asian Alliance for GFG. 
GFG Framework and Objectives 
The underpinning rationale, conceptual framework and possible functions of 
the GFG initiative were articulated in a draft position paper.(1) 
The GFG framework (see below) has been adapted from the 'governance map' 
developed by Hobley and Shields (2) for analyzing and improving the 
relationships among key actors in CBFM- forest users, natural resource 
management (NRM) agencies and the political environment. 
Through various consultations and refinements, the main objectives of the 
GFG initiative have evolved into the following: 
1. To understand the practice of and factors contributing to good forest 
governance, and to serve as a clearinghouse for best practices, lessons 
learned, and other information relevant to GFG. 
2. To support GFG initiatives at different levels in Asian countries, and 
to monitor the effects of wider political processes on forest governance. 
3. To develop effective channels of communication to (a) enable forest 
users to increase their voice and impact, and (b) improve the 
relationships among a diverse group of stakeholders. 
Networking and Information Support 
In an effort to disseminate relevant information and stimulate discussion 
and interaction among those interested in Good Forest Governance and 
community-based forest management RECOFTC has set up the following 
communications channels: 
* A web page devoted to the GFG initiative 
* A listserv for GFG partners ( 
* A listserv for members of the Global Caucus on CBFM, which emerged 
during PrepCom IV in Bali and now comprises nearly 200 people worldwide 
It is hoped that these channels, along with the WRM website and bulletin, 
will be used routinely and frequently by GFG and CBFM partners to promote 
networking, information sharing and peer support. 
GFG Workplans 
The various planning and workshop events have enabled the formulation of 
GFG country-level workplans by partners from Cambodia, China, India, 
Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. These represent 
a rich array of activities at the local and national levels, focusing on 
themes such as: 
* developing and institutionalising arrangements for learning 
* strengthening community forest user federations 
* improving relationships among users, forest departments and policy 
* sharing of field processes 
* building capacity for GFG and CBFM 
* contributing to policy development 
* building upon decentralisation, devolution and democratisation processes 
Together, these country activities provide a solid foundation upon which 
regional activities may be developed for greater synergy and 
complementarity. Four regional activities have emerged as priorities: 
* Compiling and analysing national/local level assessments of GFG 
* Developing criteria and indicators for GFG processes 
* Forging regional/international linkages to leverage local processes 
* Designing and testing GFG training 
Next Steps 
Partners emerged from Johannesburg with a shared vision and shared 
commitment to GFG. Among the next steps agreed to were the following: 
1. Move ahead with local and national activities 
For example, Nepal is implementing plans for a national workshop on GFG, 
development of criteria and indicators for GFG in Community Based Forest 
Management, and training of facilitators on user group formation with GFG 
2. Consolidate GFG work-plans, finalise terms of reference for interim 
working group and facilitator, and mobilise human resources to get things 
3. Focus on the passage of the Thai community forestry bill 
This movement has greatly benefited from letters sent to the Thai Prime 
Minister from CBFM Global Caucus and WRM members. 
4. Continue to link with the CBFM Global Caucus 
For example, notable progress on identifying people and activities (e.g., 
protected areas) for the World Forestry Congress in Quebec in 2003. 
5. Use GFG framework to analyse country situation and adapt as needed 
RECOFTC has offered to host and support an interim secretariat for GFG 
during the initial two-year feasibility phase. Efforts are underway to 
* An interim working group to provide overall governance and guidance; and 
* An interim facilitator who can assist the working group and interim 
By Chun K. Lai, RECOFTC,, e-mail: 
(1) "Moving Towards Good Forest Governance in Asia and the Pacific: A 
Draft Position Paper Prepared as Part of Indonesian People's Forum During 
PrepCom IV of WSSD to stimulate dialogue and interest in GFG." RECOFTC, 
Bangkok, May 2002. 
(2) Hobley, M. and Dermott Shield. 2000. "The Reality of Trying to 
Transform Structures and Processes: Forestry in Rural Livelihoods." 
Working Paper 132. ODI, London. 
- India: Indigenous Peoples and Joint Forest Management 
India's experiments with Joint Forest Management (JFM) grew out of 
attempts by forestry officials to accommodate 'tribal' demands to manage 
their own forests. [The indigenous peoples of India are officially 
referred to as 'Scheduled Tribes']. Under JFM forests remain the property 
of the State under the jurisdiction of Forest Departments but local 
communities are contracted to manage the forests and retain a portion of 
profits from the sale of harvests. The extent to which profits are shared 
with the communities varies considerably from state to state in India, as 
does the degree of forest department intervention. 
However, JFM is notable for the low security of tenure it provides to 
participants. In most states, the Forest Protection Committees established 
to co-manage forests with the Forest Departments lack legal personality 
and have no status outside their relationship to the government agencies. 
Many of those involved in JFM thus see the process as just another means 
by which the Forestry Departments are able to organise local labour to 
improve public lands. However some in the forest service have argued that 
State intervention is crucial to ensure that the weaker sections of 
communities benefit from and are not further marginalised by JFM. 
In the mid-1990s, large-scale foreign assistance, notably through 
concessional loans from the World Bank, was provided to help 'scale up' 
joint forest management. Notionally, the programme now embraces the whole 
country. However, the programme has begun to run into serious problems. 
One set of problems derives from the lack of real political will in some 
States to implement the programme. In Indian states where the programme 
was 'home grown' and implanted by leading foresters, the scaling up has 
been relatively successful. In these states, the existence of a least some 
committed foresters, active social movements pressing for reform and a 
network of concerned NGOs, has ensured that mechanisms have developed to 
monitor progress and provide accountability. However, in other states 
which have accepted the programme mainly as a result of national policy 
change and the provision of outside funds, these checks and balances have 
been lacking. Forestry Department officials have resisted what they see as 
an erosion of their authority. Joint Forest Management schemes have thus 
been implemented half-heartedly, with inadequate community preparation and 
with too much authority being retained by officials. In these 
circumstances scope for the application of local institutions, knowledge 
and initiative has been frustrated and enthusiasm for JFM has been 
correspondingly weak. 
A second set of problems has come from the inflexible application of the 
JFM concept. JFM was originally conceived by foresters as a way of 
encouraging the rehabilitation of degraded 'forest' lands. The programme 
is thus only applied in areas where natural forests are already lost and 
local communities require help to restore forest cover and achieve (or 
regain) a more sustainable forest management system. Ironically this has 
meant that those communities which have not significantly depleted their 
forests do not qualify for the programme. Many of the tribal groups in 
Central India have been caught out by this Catch 22. 
In other areas, tribals have felt excluded from JFM because opportunities 
to participate have been monopolised by higher caste groups who have been 
able to use their greater access to officials to secure participation in 
the JFM scheme. Marginalised and technically landless groups like the 
tribal peoples have thus seen 'degraded lands' and 'wastelands' that were 
important to their livelihoods annexed to JFM, leaving them further 
Surprisingly, despite its policy on indigenous peoples, World Bank support 
for JFM, has not helped focus attention on the special needs of indigenous 
peoples. In January 2000, the World Bank abruptly pulled out of the Madhya 
Pradesh Forestry Project after tribal groups frustrated at the way JFM was 
being imposed on their traditional lands without their rights or interests 
being accommodated travelled all the way to Delhi to visit the World Bank 
office and voice their complaints. Denied access to the building, the 
tribals camped in the compound until the Bank accepted a petition from the 
group. World Bank staff privately admit that the project was not developed 
in accordance with its policy and was thus indefensible. Alarmed by this 
experience and facing complaints through the Inspection Panel, World Bank 
staff in India have discussed whether or not they should wind up their 
involvement in JFM altogether. 
Among the lessons learned from the JFM experience are the following: 
* communities can only benefit if they also have adequate lands for 
subsistence outside forests 
* long term benefits require that a major share of the profits be retained 
by the communities 
* forestry officials need re-training and given incentives to devolve 
decisions to communities 
* forestry department commitment must be real and not a token response to 
aid agencies 
* arrangements should be fitted to local forest management traditions not 
prescribed from above 
* the programme should be extended to include healthy forests 
* special provisions are needed to accommodate the needs and rights of 
indigenous peoples 
In general, however, most indigenous peoples in India see JFM as an 
(inadequate) first step towards the restitution of their rights. 
By Marcus Colchester, Forest Peoples Programme, e-mail: 
- Towards Community Forestry in Indonesia 
Forests in Indonesia have been rapidly depleting since the 1960s when the 
practice became prevalent of handing out logging concessions to military 
commanders. Logging quickly expanded to supply cheap logs to the Japanese 
timber industry principally to produce plywood. Under heavy pressure from 
government-directed colonisation programmes forest loss escalated, a 
process further exaggerated by large-scale schemes, some developed with 
foreign assistance, to expand tree crops in 'conversion forests'. In the 
mid-1970s, the Indonesian government restricted and then banned the export 
of unprocessed logs which had the effect of providing a protective market 
for a domestic plywood and timber processing industry, which developed a 
voracious appetite for timber. Demand soon outstripped supply and hastened 
the extension of the logging frontier into the remoter parts of 
Kalimantan, Sulawesi, the Moluccas and 'Irian Jaya' (West Papua). By the 
late 1980s, NGOs were estimating deforestation in Indonesia at around 1 
million hectares a year, a figure long denied by the government. Recent 
studies put the rate of forest loss even higher --at some 3 million 
hectares per year-- and note that over half of all timber is being 
extracted illegally. 
As the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry has noted: 
"In the early 1980s, in what could be considered one of the largest land 
grabs in history, the government implemented a forest zonation system that 
classified most of the Outer Islands as forestlands. Seventy-eight percent 
of Indonesia, or more than 140 million hectares were placed under the 
responsibility of the Department of Forestry and Estate Crops. This 
included over 90% of the outer islands. Estimates place as many as 65 
million people living within these areas. According to the Department of 
Forestry, the creation of the State forest zone nullified local 'Adat' 
rights, making thousands of communities invisible to the forest management 
planning process and squatters on their ancestral lands. As a result, 
logging concessions, timber plantations, protected areas, and 
government-sponsored migration schemes have been directly overlaid on 
millions of hectares of community lands, causing widespread conflict. Yet, 
in fact for many local people, traditional law, or 'hukum Adat', still 
governs natural resource management practices." 
Since the fall of Suharto in 1998, the political protection afforded to 
his cronies has gradually been eroded and reform-minded politicians and 
officials have begun to push, tentatively for wider reforms in forest 
policy. Under pressure from NGOs and a civil society that grows daily more 
confident of itself, the Forestry Department has felt obliged to give way, 
at least in part, to demands for community access to and control of 
One area of dispute focuses on exactly which areas are classified as State 
Forests. Recently released official figures show that only 68% of the 
areas claimed as State Forests have actually been fully demarcated and 
gazetted, but no clear maps are available to help communities find out if 
they live in the gazetted areas or the remaining 32% which formally still 
remain under the jurisdiction of Ministry of Agrarian Lands. Besides many 
communities are now questioning the legality by which the forest lands 
were demarcated and gazetted. Formally required procedures to consult the 
local administration and affected communities were often not run through, 
opening up the possibility that the annexation of community lands to 
establish State Forests could now be challenged in the courts. 
A vigorous civil society movement has emerged to challenge State control 
of forests including several broad alliances of NGOs and other civil 
society elements such as the Coalition for the Democratisation of Natural 
Resources (KUDETA), the Communication Forum on Community Forestry (FKKM), 
the Consortium for Supporting Community-Based Forest System Management 
(KpSHK) and the Alliance of the Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago 
(AMAN). While their tactics and priorities vary, all have called for a 
devolution of control of forests to local communities. All these 
initiatives have benefited from considerable financial support from 
development NGOs and foreign Foundations. 
The Forestry Department has taken various steps to accommodate this 
pressure. In January 1998 it passed a special decree recognising the 
rights of communities in Krui in West Lampung to have permanent control of 
their forests under community management. In mid-1999, the Government 
engaged in a consultation exercise with NGOs in drafting a new Forestry 
Act but the process broke down when it transpired that while a 
more-or-less open external drafting process was underway which involved 
civil society groups, the Ministry was simultaneously drafting its own 
version internally. It was the internal draft which was submitted to 
Parliament and ratified despite widespread objections including from 
former Ministers of the Environment and of Forests. Shortly after another 
piece of law was also passed in the period, Ministerial Decree, SK 
677/1999 (revised in 2001 as SK 31/2001) which establishes a process by 
which communities can set up as cooperatives and secure 25 year leases to 
forests subject to government approval of the local management plans. 
Although many NGOs are critical of the limited progress that these pieces 
of law represent, others consider them to be important steps towards a 
recognition of community rights in forests. The struggle for a reassertion 
of community forestry in Indonesia is really only just beginning. 
By Marcus Colchester, Forest Peoples Programme, e-mail: 
- Indonesia: Changes and Challenges of the Community-Based Forest 
Management Movement 
The Indonesian NGO movement has been supporting CBFM start since 1995. The 
main message of the start-up phase was that most of the CBFM models that 
developed in a sustainable way were based on community wisdom, culture and 
The culture and customs of forest communities in Indonesia are influenced 
by the outside environment, including technology, public regulations and 
trends in global culture. Globalisation and development speed up the 
influence of the global culture on customary communities, which are 
usually found in the remote areas. These new cultural influences are 
usually more materialistic and individualistic than existing community 
culture and customs. The CBFM model, which used to be managed with a 
spirit of communality (both in communal or private land), has been 
changing towards individualism, from eco-ritualism to the 
money-orientation. The social, cultural and customary values of land and 
forest are slowly but surely changing towards commercialisation. 
The change towards individualism and materialism is seen in the increasing 
conflicts over land, forest and other resources among community members. 
The conflict happens because the rapid changes are affecting the culture 
of land allocation and management. 
Not all communities have changed as described above, but I believe that 
sooner or later, all community groups (including indigenous and customary 
communities) will change in this direction. 
What should NGOs supporting CBFM do? 
When we are aware about this situation, then the question is what should 
we do? Should we stay promoting the old CBFM model, do we have to find the 
new model, or, should we go back to the conventional model (the 
state-based systems of land management)? 
In my opinion, I would like to say that we have to promote the CBFM model 
with some improvements. There are three reasons for that opinion, which 
are: First, the governance system in Indonesia is not well-managed; and 
state-based forest management therefore cannot be implemented properly. If 
the government tries again to force the state-based model of forest 
management on communities, then there will be more and more conflict in 
natural resources management between communities, the government and the 
private sector. Also, we will have more and more corruption, collusion and 
nepotism in the forestry sector, which in the end will speed up the 
destruction of the forests. Second, local communities inside or adjacent 
to forests have a history binding them to that area, making them more 
responsible in sustaining the forests. Third, local communities have 
indigenous knowledge which can be a basis for achieving sustainable forest 
Therefore, the CBFM movement in Indonesia must continue to face a lot of 
challenges. The supporters of the CBFM movement must be aware about the 
trends of cultural change in rural communities to avoid wrong assumptions 
and inappropriate actions. 
In facing the challenges in CBFM development, we found some obstacles, 
which are: 
1. The weakness of local institutions (especially lack of conflict 
resolution mechanisms and enforcement systems) 
Based on our experiences, it is difficult for local community institutions 
to adapt to the new changes and opportunities. There are a lot of 
community groups who cannot deal with the new changes. That raises a lot 
of internal conflicts which remain unsolved. Also we found a lot of 
weakness in the enforcement system. Very often community groups ask the 
government to solve their conflicts, while the government also has little 
or no capacity in conflict resolution. 
2. The limit of technology and methodology on CBFM 
Most of the forest management practices in Indonesia are based on 
big-scale operations and investment. The CBFM model is based on 
small-scale and small-investment approaches. Most of the technology and 
methodology of forest management available in Indonesia only suits big 
scale operations which imply road building and heavy equipment, and 
produce big-volumes of wood, and so on. 
Based on our experiences of a community sawmill, we had to order most of 
the equipment from overseas, at great expense. Also, in small-scale forest 
management it is often difficult to find technical solutions to problems 
such as how to define the annual allowable cut, rotation, enrichments, 
etc. Most available experts are familiar with the big-scale pattern but 
not with small-scale community forestry. We found similar experiences in 
rattan resources management and processing. In summary, we do not have 
appropriate technology and methodologies for supporting CBFM in Indonesia, 
where communities want to produce for a wider market. 
3. Lack of Supporting Systems 
A support system is needed to help communities with access to market 
information, capacity building, technical assistance services, credit 
facilities and development of supporting regulation. To enable the success 
of CBFM, we have to re-arrange the public services system in Indonesia to 
meet those needs, and develop the skills to support small scale, 
community-based forest management. 
By Ade Cahyat , Director in East Kalimantan Foundation for Supporting CBFM 
(SHK Kaltim), e-mail: 
- Community Forestry in the Philippines 
The rapid depletion of Filipino forests by logging, mining and settler 
encroachment was officially acknowledged as requiring a policy response in 
the late 1980s. The need to limit and regulate logging and to promote 
community forestry alternatives was accepted by government by the end of 
the decade. In 1990, the government adopted a Master Plan for Forestry 
Development which entailed an attempt to 'scale up' previous 
community-level initiatives in forest management. 
Under the plan, communities were entitled to leaseholds of State-owned 
forest lands under Forestry Stewardship Agreements which gave them rights 
to plant trees and market forest products over a 25 year period. Concerns 
were expressed early on in the process that Forestry Stewardship Contracts 
made no provisions for unresolved indigenous land claims and might even be 
used to extinguish native rights. Modifications were subsequently 
introduced to reassure indigenous communities entering into contracts that 
their historical claims were unaffected. 
During the 1990s international assistance was poured into the forestry 
sector by bilateral and multilateral agencies. The Asian Development Bank 
gave substantial support to plantation development and the World Bank 
provided additional funds to overall forest sector development. Both 
lending programmes were modified to accommodate the Forestry Stewardship 
initiative, while the interests of communities in the face of plantations 
were promoted through 'contract reforestation' initiatives by which 
individuals, co-operatives or communities could secure financial and 
technical assistance for tree-planting schemes. At the same time, USAID 
targetted community forestry through two large Natural Resource Management 
Projects which provided special funds for the Department of Energy and 
Natural Resources to provide outreach to the rural poor. Although 
indigenous peoples made up at least 30% of the rural poor inhabiting 
Filipino forests, specific provisions for indigenous peoples were not 
prominent in the overall programme. 
Despite the good intentions on the part of the donors, the overall impact 
of the forestry reform programme for the rural poor in general and 
indigenous peoples in particular has not been a great success. The main 
beneficiaries of the programme have been the plantation and seedling 
companies that have developed the plantations. Contract reforestation has 
been less successful in servicing local markets than anticipated and most 
of the contract reforestation schemes that have endured have been 
out-grower schemes for large-scale pulp and paper mills such as PICOP. In 
northern Mindanao, contract reforestation has actually drawn settlers onto 
indigenous lands and provoked serious conflicts. 
NGOs and indigenous spokespersons note a number of other unhappy results 
of the forestry reform programme. One has been that the sector has become 
almost entirely dependent on donor support and is deprived of funding and 
political support from central government. As a result the programme has 
not been 'rooted' in domestic processes of policy or institutional reform 
and the connections between the aid-funded reform and local political 
processes have been weak or absent. Community forestry has thus become a 
donor-driven enclave within the political economy, tolerated as a way of 
capturing foreign exchange rather than one promoted to achieve sustainable 
development. Consequently, the affected communities have been further 
distanced from national reform politicians and instead of being empowered 
and better connected to national policy processes find themselves burdened 
by the new community forestry bureaucracy which has expanded massively 
thanks to the foreign funding. The overall verdict of many NGOs and 
community activists is that forestry reform has suffered from too much 
top-down money. The donor-driven programme tried to build on an incipient 
civil society initiative before there had been any real institutional 
change nationally. The result was a programme which swamped the national 
reform process and which has left indigenous peoples less empowered than 
By Marcus Colchester, Forest Peoples Programme, e-mail: 
- Thailand: Forests Communities to Renew Struggle for Rights 
More than ten years of negotiations between government officials, local 
community groups and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have led to a 
draft community forest bill which would be Thailand's first legislation 
recognising the legal status of communities living in and around 
Thailand's National Forest Reserves to use, manage and protect their 
forests in co-operation with the Royal Forestry Department. 
Last year, the bill had been passed by the Lower House but subsequently 
was blocked by the Upper House (Senate) which proposed amendments that 
would basically subvert the intent of the bill and could lead to the 
resettlement of local communities, particularly ethnic minorities, living 
in protected forests areas such as national parks. After the Senate (Upper 
House) amended the draft bill, the draft has been returned to the Lower 
House (LH) for consideration. Although the bill should have come up for 
consideration by the Lower House in end September, it has now been 
postponed to January 2003. 
A recent Cabinet reshuffle including the establishment of a new Ministry 
of Natural Resources, as well as some uncertainty with the political 
fall-out if the Bill is passed, have supposedly been the reasons that led 
to the postponement of consideration of the bill, according to some 
sources within government. When the Lower House does consider the Bill, it 
has two choices: agree to the Senate's amendments and pass the Bill, or 
disagree in which case a joint parliamentary committee will be set up to 
consider the bill. Fortunately, the second option seems more likely at 
this stage. If the joint committee is set up, it is expected to take a 
month to consider the amendments, make revisions and send the bill back to 
both houses of Parliament for consideration. 
The Senate's amendments to the Bill have also slowed the whole process 
down, resulting in frustration for local community groups who needed the 
Bill to be passed as soon as possible to prevent potential displacement 
from their homes in forest areas. 
Local community groups and NGOs in North Thailand are organising a large 
conference on community forests and inviting the Minister of the 
newly-formed Ministry of Natural Resources and other politicians to muster 
political support. In Bangkok, academics organised a seminar for academics 
to support the original draft Bill passed by the Lower House. NGOs and 
academics in Bangkok and elsewhere are starting a postcard campaign, and 
have printed 60,000 postcards supporting that Bill. About 1,000 academics 
all over Thailand have already signed a letter supporting the Bill. 
International support from NGOs and academics is also being received (you 
can sign and send the sample letter posted in the WRM Web page: All these signatures and 
support letters will be presented to Parliament by January 2003. 
By Rajesh Daniel, TERRA/PER, e-mail: 
- Central America: ACICAFOC, An On-going Proposal 
The Central American Community Agro-forestry Indigenous and Peasant 
Co-ordination Association, known as CICAFOC, operates in Central America 
--involving Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa 
Rica and Panama-- and is a community-based social, non profit-making 
organisation, gathering organised associations, co-operatives, federations 
and community groups of small and medium sized agro-forestry producers, 
indigenous people and peasants. These groups are working to achieve 
access, use and management of natural resources, seeking community food 
security and economic sustainability in harmony with the environment. 
CICAFOC was formally established in June 1994, as a result of a series of 
efforts, meetings and exchange among the different community experiences 
in the region that are working towards natural resource management. As a 
process, it has its own initiatives, experience, a vision placed on 
self-sufficiency, clear principles of transparency and trust, promoting 
tools making natural resource use and management possible. 
Among its strategic objectives is the strengthening of technical capacity 
and local knowledge of natural resource management, the identification of 
the capacity of socio-productive experience with a view to making a better 
use of forests as a local development alternative to enhance their living 
The opening up of political fora at a local, national and regional level 
has strengthened this process in construction and the experience of the 
indigenous and peasant communities has achieved an enhancement of the 
context for negotiations with local, national and regional governments. A 
good methodology has been to share experience among organisations. This 
horizontal exchange has made it possible to transmit lessons and 
techniques learnt to improve the process. It has also helped to understand 
that CICAFOC is an organisation promoting local processes that does not 
represent the groups and does not attempt to substitute them. Its input is 
to facilitate fora for negotiation with Universities, co-operation bodies, 
governments and NGOs, and to seek orchestration and dialogue among the 
CICAFOC has launched a new style of impact in the Central American region 
because it seeks technical and financial support that the groups can 
access. It is an organisation with socio-productive proposals aimed at 
strengthening local groups and already has 1:036,670 families involved in 
the project. 
With regard to forest use and management, it should be noted that out of a 
total of 18 million hectares of forest cover in the Central American 
region, peasant and indigenous communities participating in the process 
manage 2:602,425 hectares --375,749 in agro-forestry systems. Thus, the 
percentage of forest cover in the region in the hands of CICAFOC member 
groups is 14,5 %, reflecting an encouraging situation at a time when 
increasingly, communities all over the world are struggling to recover 
access to and management of natural resources, once their source of life 
and now taken away from them by the successive central powers. 
Based on numerous experiences of peasant, indigenous and Afro-descendants 
working towards the development of socio-productive proposals 
strengthening Central American biodiversity, CICAFOC emphasises the need 
for recognition of the existence of a Community Eco-Development Corridor 
(Corredor de Ecodesarrollo Comunitario - CEM), as an on-going proposal 
which is also a community regional development strategy. CEM is framed in 
a modern concept of forest conservation based on appropriate use and 
management of natural resources by the communities depending on them. 
Experience has shown that this approach is much more effective than 
demarking protected areas and excluding the local populations. On the 
contrary, for CEM, the involvement of local populations in resource 
management and use is precisely what ensures their long-term 
sustainability, while improving the peoples' living conditions. 
By Alberto Chinchilla, Regional Resource Person, Central American 
Community Agroforestry Indigenous and Peasant Coordination Association 
(Asociación Coordinadora Indígena y Campesina de Agroforestería 
Comunitaria Centroamericana - ACICAFOC), e-mail:, web page: 
- Nicaragua: Reforestation as Part of Community-Based Farm Planning in Rio 
San Juan 
The Department of Rio San Juan is located near the southern frontier of 
Nicaragua, bordering Costa Rica, and the municipality of El Castillo is on 
the river between the Lake of Nicaragua and the Caribbean. During the 
eighties, the United States attacked us with a low intensity war that 
eroded the economy and uprooted Nicaraguan families. At the end of the 
war, during the nineties, twelve thousand people from Costa Rica and other 
parts of the country, immigrated to the Municipality. This mass migration 
made it even more necessary to adequately plan management of the scant 
community resources: its population and its forests. 
A project was implemented to improve the population's conditions and 
quality of life, providing them with elements and instruments to enhance 
their living space, establishing the bases for sustainable development and 
consolidating their settlement in the zone. This was necessary because the 
two major projects already existing in the region, the oil palm and the 
medicinal plant Cephaelis ipecacuanha, were no longer economically viable 
due to the speculative drop in international prices for these products. 
Logging in the zone is a lucrative activity for the large companies, but 
not for the peasants, who own the forest. Over the past decade, 
deforestation has approached 70% of the forest area, causing significant 
changes in the microclimate, water courses and ecosystems. The suitability 
of the land for forestation has led to the alternatives of planting trees 
for water protection and the introduction of fruit tree species. 
We decided to work with 250 farms, in a participatory process, considering 
that the environment is composed of human beings and the rest of the 
environment. To consider that the environment does not include human 
beings is a non-scientific absurdity. 
Participatory farm planning took place between the farm inhabitants and 
the resource people (forestry and agricultural/livestock technicians) 
under the supervision of a woman, in order to strengthen the almost absent 
gender component. Using seven steps, they defined the farm of today, the 
potential farm and the dream farm. This planning made it possible to 
define the area presently occupied by the forest for its management, the 
area devoted to agriculture, the area for grazing land and the river-banks 
having a potential for reforestation. 
During the first year, 30 nurseries were established, using seeds gathered 
locally. This generated income and economic interest in the forest, both 
in gathering and as a local store of selected biodiversity and its 
redistribution in the region. 
    From the start, great interest was shown by the population in planting 
fruit trees (1). This seemed reasonable and ensured the care of the trees 
as these have a known use and are of real direct benefit to the producer. 
As mentioned earlier on, logging in Rio San Juan has essentially benefited 
the logging companies, as it is hard for the population to obtain logging 
permits, even in their own farms. The result has been reforestation of 132 
has with native wood species and 626 has with fruit trees. 
The conjunction of protected spaces by the peasants also made it possible 
to set up small collective reserves which, although remaining the property 
of individual peasants, on bordering the outer limits of the farms, de 
facto became micro reserves (50 to 200 hectares that are not used for 
livestock, agriculture or forestry activities, due to difficulty in 
accessing them). 
A geographical information system was designed and set up, in order to 
systematise data from the farms. It has not been possible to consolidate 
this information because the project only lasted two years and there was 
no funding to ensure its continuity. More than 700 hectares were planted 
and large amounts of fruit will be produced. Plans have to be made for the 
30 thousand tons of fruit that will be available in the municipality in 
three years time. 
The participatory process led to priorities being established by the 
population and made it possible to reforest and protect 363 sources of 
water in addition to the drinking water sources in the settlements of 
Buena Vista, El Castillo and Laureano Mairena. The school areas in Buena 
Vista, Marcelo, Marlon Zelaya and Sábalos were also reforested. 
One of the problems that arose is that, in spite of having land available 
for reforestation, the population had its doubts about planting trees and 
carrying out forest management, as they are sure it will be the logging 
companies that will benefit from this task. The clearest proof is that 80% 
of the plants requested by the population were fruit trees, which they can 
use without interference from external interests. 
International processes such as debt swapping for forests or exchange of 
carbon sinks have been mentioned by officials from the capital city to the 
local population, but they have their doubts on the validity of these 
If, on the one hand, there were no regulations hindering use of timber by 
the population that owns the land and, on the other real incentives were 
given to the producers to plant trees for timber, perhaps a change would 
be possible. So far, what has happened is that, for example, the Austrian 
government supports the region in the operation of a saw mill with a view 
to increase plantation of trees for timber, but when they log they only 
pay a symbolic US$ 25 per tree to the owner of the farm. 
Summing up, reforestation has a potential for participatory processes of 
social environmental enhancement, both due to its short term effects and 
due to the results we can expect in the long term for conservation and 
sustainable forest use, although real incentives need to be generated for 
the peasants, sharing benefits as required by the Biological Diversity 
(1) List of fruit tree species used: Avocado, Mango, Orange, Mandarin, 
Lemon, Lime, Coffee Shrub, Pear, Cacao, Peach Palm, Papaya, Cachimant, 
Coconut, Banana 
By Daniel Querol, e-mail: 
- Community Forestry in the United States: A Growing Movement 
Recently some forty locally based community practitioners, academics, 
graduate students, and NGO heads (see and for more information) met for four days at the 
Federation of Southern Co-operatives ( in Epes, 
Alabama, USA, in order to discuss trends in community forestry (CF) and 
community-based ecosystem management (CBEM) in the United States. The 
annual gathering serves as the keystone meeting of the Community Forestry 
Research Fellowships Program for graduate students involved in CF in the 
United States, and receives support through the Ford Foundation 
A cornerstone of the program requires that potential student fellows 
establish and maintain a collaborative relationship with a local community 
organization in their study area. This obligation points to a central 
tenet of the Program: the role of participatory action research (PAR) in 
undertaking collaborative research in CF in order to effect social change. 
(A search through Google using "participatory action research" as the 
topic will link you to many useful websites on PAR). 
The projects of the graduate student fellows provide the focal point of 
discussion and collaboration on CF. This year's research topics again 
ranged across the four kinds of lands in which CF can and should take 
place in the United States: publicly owned and administered lands, private 
lands, Native American lands, and urban lands. Topics also covered a 
representative regional focus of CF concerns in the United States. 
This year's topics demonstrated the range of concerns that CF examines. Of 
particular interest were projects that are examining race relations, 
temporary guest workers, and the invisibility of some communities. A 
second topic examined the relationships between poverty and industrial 
forest extraction, a relationship summed up by participating professor in 
the compelling question: why do trees cause poverty? Three papers dealt 
explicitly with social networks in resource access and management. And, as 
part of a "New Directions" session, two papers demonstrated how rigorous 
science can serve the social-movement dimension that has long been the 
foundation of CF and social change. Woman, health, and access to resources 
and the need to use history in CF rounded out the presentations. 
These papers and the presentations by graduate fellows and their community 
partners provided the framework for more extensive discussions. Recurring 
themes during the four-day workshop included issues of power, access and 
control in the context of multi-stakeholder environmental governance, the 
role of place, identity and access (who is in place and who is out of 
place), the roots of boundaries and mistrust, and again, race relations 
and invisible communities. 
The Community Forestry Research Fellows Program continues to serve as a 
key dimension to the growing network of CF practitioners, policy makers 
and analysts, and researchers in the United States. Readers are invited to 
visit the web sites mentioned in this summary, and to contact the author 
for more information ( You may also contact Dr. Carl 
Wilmsen, Program Director for the Community Forestry Research Fellows 
Program ( 
By John Isom, Ph.D. Student, University of Wisconsin-Madison; e-mail: 
- USA: The National Network of Forest Practitioners 
The National Network of Forest Practitioners (NNFP) is a grassroots 
alliance of rural people who are striving to build an ecologically sound 
forest economy whose benefits are accessible to communities that have 
traditionally depended on the forest for their well-being. NNFP's 500 
members include community-based non-profits, small businesses, indigenous 
groups, forest workers, researchers, agency officials, and landowners. 
They are engaged in a variety of activities, including watershed 
protection and restoration, ecotourism, job training, non-timber forest 
products, and value-added wood manufacturing. As one of the leading 
community forestry organizations in the United States, the NNFP provides 
practitioners of sustainable forestry and people in forest-dependent 
communities with information and technical assistance, a forum for 
networking and organizing, and a meaningful role in national discussions 
about forests and rural communities. Together, NNFP members are advocating 
for a fundamental shift in forestry and forest conservation, toward 
placing greater value on the long-term well-being of the environment and 
Many rural communities across the United States have historically depended 
on neighboring forests for their cultural, economic, and environmental 
well-being. Just over a decade ago, faced with a barrage of daunting 
challenges --including ecological degradation, unemployment, emigration 
and the decline of community capacity, globalization, and the lack of 
meaningful public involvement in decision making on public lands-- rural 
communities began to organize to gain greater control of their future, and 
to ensure that forest management is ecologically sound, economically 
viable, and socially just. 
In true grassroots fashion, the groups these communities formed took many 
shapes and sizes, but most tended to be community-based non-profits or 
small, "green" businesses. Their activities covered an array of 
disciplines, including watershed protection and restoration, ecotourism, 
job training, non-timber forest products, and value-added wood 
manufacturing. Many groups represented the first efforts by communities to 
come together to solve difficult problems, and many of these organizations 
have grown up to become community institutions. In 1990, these groups 
joined with forest workers, indigenous groups, and progressively-minded 
researchers and agency officials to form the National Network of Forest 
The NNFP is committed to strengthening the capacity of its members and to 
building a strong and diverse national coalition in support of rural 
communities and the forests on which they depend. The Network seeks to 
accomplish these goals by: 
- Providing peer training and technical assistance through workshops, 
referrals, and publications 
- Offering opportunities for members to share knowledge and inspiration 
through Network gatherings and working groups 
- Promoting and practicing respect for all cultures that live and work in 
the forest, and embracing cultural diversity as a positive force for 
strengthening communities and conserving forests 
- Supporting local and regional networks that can deliver more focused 
assistance to members on an ongoing basis 
- Providing access to policy makers, agency officials, funding sources, 
research, and researchers 
- Helping to build collective clout in the development of national 
policies by organizing forums on policy issues, legislative trainings, and 
other activities 
- Increasing the national visibility of practitioners by acting as a 
clearing house for information on community forestry efforts around the 
- Through its National Community Forestry Center, conducting research, and 
helping people in rural, forest-based communities build their research 
- Serving as the North American point of contact for the Global Caucus on 
Community-Based Forest Management. 
For more information or to become a member, please contact Thomas 
Brendler, Executive Director (tel: 1-401 273-6507; e-mail: or visit Readers are also invited to 
subscribe to the NNFP's biweekly email newsletter at 
- Brazil: Community-Based Forest Management in the Brazilian Amazon 
Over the past few years, an increase in the participation of rural 
producers' families and their economic and representative organisations 
has been noted in activities relating to management and conservation of 
resources in the Brazilian Amazon. Mainly for traditional peoples --whom 
the enormous socio-environmental deficit of the Brazilian State has left 
to economic subordination by capital destroying natural resources-- 
development alternatives based on resistance and the struggle to improve 
their living and working conditions, involve the appreciation of forest 
resources and therefore, their management. 
The Federation of Social and Educational Assistance Bodies (FASE), has 
implemented a project for local development in the estuary zone of the 
River Amazon, with the rural communities of the municipality of Gurupá in 
the State of Para. Working in collaboration with the trade union movement 
and other local organisations, its objective is to contribute to the 
generation of development alternatives based on social justice, 
environmental conservation and citizenship enhancement. For this purpose, 
its working methodology is based on education of the people through direct 
action with the beneficiary peoples, the strengthening of grassroots 
organisations and autonomous collective actors, proposals for public 
policies, legal defence actions in the public sphere and implementation of 
relevant projects having a multiplier effect. 
Located in the area known as the "Island Region", between the cities of 
Belén and Santarén, on the estuary of the River Amazon, the Municipality 
of Gurupá is very similar to so many other riparian Amazon cities, where 
isolation and the water regime still determines the rhythm of the social 
and economic relationships of the people who traditionally inhabit the 
forest. Gurupá covers a total area of 8,578 km2 and has a population of 
close on 23,589 inhabitants (IBGE, 2001), with 6,729 people living in the 
urban area and 16,860 in the rural area. 
Social indicators show that the development of Gurupá --in spite of having 
been an important financial market during the rubber boom at the beginning 
of the last century-- is far from having achieved decent living conditions 
for the majority of its population. The IDH-M (the Municipal Index of 
Human Development) of Gurupá is 0.396, with levels of human development 
similar to countries such as Gambia (0.398) or Rwanda (0.395). The average 
number of years of schooling in the municipality is 1.29, while in Brazil 
the average is about 5.8 per inhabitant. Gurupá has less than one hospital 
bed per thousand inhabitants (the number recommended by the World Health 
Organisation (WHO) is four), and one doctor for every ten thousand 
inhabitants (WHO recommends ten). 
Thanks to the vigorous social movement and to the great variety of forest 
products --Brazil nuts, timber, Açaí (Euterpe oleraceae Mart.), hearts of 
palm, environmental services, among others-- the Municipality can 
potentially play a strategic role in the construction of sustainability 
references in the Amazon. Thus, over these three years of activity, the 
FASE Gurupá Project has worked, not only in the generation of these 
references, but also by adding participatory methodologies and concrete 
initiatives aimed at local development. 
Forest management activities carried out by FASE with the Gurupá 
communities are pioneer activities in the Brazilian Amazon. In the first 
place by considering that these activities are part of a family and/or 
community production system, and therefore should be considered within the 
peasant rationale of production and reproduction. In this respect, it 
should be highlighted that the use of forest resources is not limited to 
timber exploitation, but involves the multiple use of the forest by these 
populations. Secondly, these activities are long-term activities and 
therefore, guaranteeing land to producer families is a basic condition for 
their sustainable development. Finally, the preparation, negotiation and 
adoption of a law that will include community organisations to legalise 
their forest management activities is necessary, as these were not 
contemplated in the Brazilian legal forestry system. 
Regarding management methodology, FASE also introduced innovations in the 
planning of timber exploitation, adapting it to the situation of the 
producer families according to the extraction of the number of 
trees/species to be exploited per year and not according to the size of 
the plot, which is generally what forestry companies do and what is 
recommended by IBAMA. In this way, forest management is adapted to the 
amount of resources in Gurupá, and this can be replicated in other 
neighbouring municipalities. 
The adoption of the Plan for Community Management of the Camuta del 
Pucurui Forests in the year 2001 --the first in the State of Pará-- led to 
other community-based management initiatives in the Eastern Amazon. 
Actions carried out since 1999 in order to regulate land tenure, 
preparation and implementation of Land Use Plans for planning, management 
and territorial control, the preparation of forestry inventories and their 
legalisation with the organisation regulating this activity (IBAMA), and 
planning of exploitation and marketing, have resulted in the forestry 
exploitation of 102 m3 of round wood timber during the first year (2002), 
marketed at an average price of 80 US dollars the cubic metre, 
representing an increase of 233% over the price obtained previously by the 
families undertaking this activity. In addition to the above, monitoring 
of impacts on the forest show that with the techniques used in the logging 
and extraction operations, the average number of trees damaged per 
hectare, having a diameter over 30 cm (DBH/diameter at breast height), was 
11, which shows the sustainability of low impact exploitation recommended 
by FASE, as with conventional exploitation this figure amounts to 27 trees 
per hectare. 
As a result of this action, another timber management plan was adopted, 
the first for the Gurupá quilombolas(*) (ARQMG) in the community of Camatá 
de Ipixuna. In this plan the offer of products was broadened and for the 
2003 harvest it is hoped to obtain 800 m3 of timber, that already has a 
buyer. At the same time, IBAMA approved plans for the management of the 
native Açai Palm by two other associations, who are considering the 
associated extraction of hearts of palm and Açai. It should be noted that 
the management plans for the Açai Palm recommended by IBAMA are aimed at 
the exploitation of hearts of palm only, which has generated severe 
devastation of this palm in the region. Associated extraction of hearts of 
palm and Açai has made it possible to increase up to 30% the production of 
the fruit, generating an average gross income per family/month of 124 US 
dollars, against the 65 US dollars previously earned without this 
Factors hindering increased community-based forest management, such as the 
lack of markets and training of producer families, high costs to satisfy 
legal requirements and regularise land-tenure, still exist. Although the 
issue of community-based forest management is being discussed and efforts 
are being made to successfully implement the initiatives in this respect, 
it is still necessary to overcome the political, institutional and 
financial obstacles still in force. In this respect, the State carries out 
a key role, mainly regarding revision of legal requirements for the 
adoption of management plans, instrumentation of a forest-promotion 
programme and establishment of special lines of credit for community-based 
forest management in the Amazon. Furthermore, it should also promote 
projects that, like the one carried out by FASE in Gurupá, are submitted 
as isolated, but relevant initiatives, and include them in strategic 
actions within the regional development programme. 
(*) This was the name given to the run-away slaves who took refuge in 
places of difficult access known as quilombos (Translator's note). 
By Paulo Oliveira, Executive Coordinator of FASE Gurupá, e-mail: 
- Chile: Is Community-Based Forest Management Possible in the Context of a 
Neoliberal Economy? 
In Chile, 25 years of implementation of the neo-liberal economy model have 
had a strong impact on native forests and indigenous and local communities 
in the South. Over two million hectares of pine and eucalyptus plantations 
feed a large cellulose industry, geared for export. Over this period, 
hundreds of thousands hectares of native forests were converted into 
monoculture tree plantations. An accelerated concentration of land 
ownership, aided by State subsidies to plantations has led to serious 
territorial conflicts with the Mapuche indigenous communities, still 
continuing today. Major projects for hydroelectric dams, highways and 
cellulose plants have multiplied, together with projects for widespread 
forestry exploitation with significant private investment, affecting 
forest territories inhabited by indigenous and peasant communities. 
Land ownership and access to natural resources by the communities have 
undergone considerable changes. At the beginning of the eighties, the 
community lands of many of the Mapuche communities in the valleys and part 
of the coastal cordillera were divided into individual properties. In 
other areas, more isolated and covered by primary forests, the process for 
regularisation of indigenous lands is still taking place and some 
communities have chosen community ownership systems, while others are 
requesting individual deeds and many still live on government lands or on 
lands of private owners who have never inhabited them. 
In spite of the changes, the communities have continued to operate as 
such, keeping up the exchange of labour, seeds, medicinal plants and 
traditional knowledge as well as the unity to face threats from the 
outside. They also maintain diversified use, traditional knowledge systems 
and a vision integrating productivity, culture and spirituality in their 
relationship with the forest. 
However, their contact with global society has had impacts; the need for 
income in the communities has been generated, traditional organisation 
systems have been weakened and there is a marked absence of organisational 
continuity and a low representativity of the major indigenous and peasant 
organisations. In some areas, the weakening of these structures, the lack 
of opportunities and training, and unequal market relations have obliged 
the communities to destroy their forests to survive. 
It was only during the last decade that programmes with support from 
international cooperation have started to promote forest management and 
conservation with indigenous and peasant communities. Finally, and as an 
expression of an international movement, the role of these communities in 
forest conservation has started to be valued. However, success is on a 
local scale and changes in mentality are slow in incorporating this new 
approach among politicians, legislators, public services and universities 
training professionals and carrying out research. 
It is possible that in the medium term, the State will incorporate this 
approach of community-based forest management and that the university will 
train professionals and develop lines of research in this area. It is also 
possible that internationally funded assistance programmes will achieve 
co-ordination among themselves and with the public services. It is 
probable that forestry companies and in particular those working with 
native forests will genuinely associate themselves with village 
communities. Progress is being made towards community participation in the 
management of protected wildlife areas. In the medium-term, it can be 
expected that the National Corporation for Indigenous Development (CONADI) 
will increase its purchases to return lands to indigenous communities. 
However, it is worthwhile wondering if the pace of this process is not too 
slow with relation to the opposite trend of deforestation and forest 
degradation, inequitable sharing of forest profits and community 
How do we face the inevitable clash of global society, through agents such 
as transnational companies and enable the communities to find a better 
standpoint for negotiation, with secure land-ownership and access to 
natural resources? Negotiation among involved people is a necessary path 
to be taken, but it requires a certain balance of power, presently 
lacking, to enable them to operate effectively without negatively 
affecting indigenous and local communities. 
Some changes are faster than we would like, and the conditions to face 
them very often are not up to the challenge. The responsibility is great 
for those who have engaged themselves with the communities and the forests 
on which they depend (as does the rest of humanity). There is no place for 
divisions, false competence or inefficiency; it is fundamental to work 
from the grassroots, to have an influence on universities, at national and 
international political level in a co-ordinated and coherent way. A 
relationship of collaboration and alliances among the communities, 
conservationists and eventually, forestry and eco-tourism companies is 
needed. Creativity in seeking solutions is essential, but beyond this, 
community empowerment and participation in forest zones is even more 
important, as they are the first ones concerned by sustainable forest use. 
For them, community management is certainly desirable and possible, but to 
make this feasible, in addition to the above, important changes are 
required in the economic model, presently based on the support of private 
companies as a development strategy. The problem therefore does not lie in 
knowing if the communities can manage and conserve their forests --which 
they certainly can-- but in deciding if the State is willing to establish 
the rules of the game and provide support to make this possible, working 
in a co-ordinated way with civil society organisations. 
By Rodrigo Catalán, e-mail: 
- Ecuador: The Awa Federation's Experience in the Management and 
Conservation of its Territory 
The 21 Indigenous Communities comprising the Federation of Awa Centres in 
Ecuador (FCAE) have legal deeds for 120,000 hectares in the Northwest of 
Ecuador, a region of humid forests and great biological diversity, known 
as the Awa Territory and containing the last expanse of Chocoano forests 
remaining in Ecuador. 
The territorial struggles by the Awa to defend their communal forests from 
pressure from the timber and mining industries and colonisation, benefited 
until a few years ago from the difficult access to the North Western part 
of the country. Over the past years, the opening up and paving of two new 
highways crossing the region facilitated the activities of several timber 
companies and the consequent disappearance of the forest. 
In spite of this being an illegal activity, the timber companies started 
with offers to buy the timber. They managed to carry out business with 
some Awa families, causing organisational problems in several communities 
and within FCAE. 
The Ministry of the Environment, responsible for monitoring forestry 
management and extraction, has not shown itself to have efficient control 
over these companies, nor over formal and informal buyers. Over the past 
two years, FCAE has lodged criminal action against various timber 
companies for having illegally entered their territory to extract timber. 
They have also denounced the illegal activities of some Ministry of the 
Environment officials before the Civic Commission for the Control of 
Because of this, FCAE decided to launch its own project for 
community-based forest management, with the aim of providing sustainable 
income to its communities, conserve its forests and counteract pressure by 
the companies. In the process of analysis of the forest situation and 
definition of proposals, the Awa communities established 3 basic items 
that have served in the development of this project: it must be 
administrated and led by FCAE; the use of heavy machinery in the 
extraction of timber from Awa territory will be prohibited; the benefits 
will be equitably shared on the basis of agreements that the communities 
will establish with FCAE. 
The first task was to reach agreements and consensus over the delimitation 
of an area of 1980 hectares of communal forest in Mataje, containing a 
high diversity of endemic wood species. On the basis of forestry 
inventories, a first forestry management plan for this zone of communal 
forest was prepared. A group of young Awa were trained to become a 
forestry team, hoping that in the future they will be the managers of 
their own development. This team made an identification of botanical 
specimens and later prepared the Community Forestry Management Plan 
according to Ecuadorian forestry rules. The Plan takes into account the 
criteria for certification in the framework of the Forest Stewardship 
Council (FSC). The project has been visited twice by the Smartwood 
certifying company and is currently in the course of obtaining FSC 
certification. Other management plans for family zones in the Communities 
of Guadualito, Balsareño and Pambilar were developed. 
The Awa started with a low intensity extraction of between 5 and 7 trees 
per month, using innovative extraction systems by aerial cable and 
preparing and marketing their timber directly to a company from Quito, the 
capital city, without using intermediaries. Various timber companies, with 
the intention of entering Awa Territory have increased their illegal 
attempts to put pressure on the Awa to sell wood to them. 
In order to add more value to their forestry products, FCAE is seeking a 
market abroad for some products prepared by the Awa in Ecuador and they 
expect this to be possible in the year 2003. With this same objective, at 
the end of 2002, FCAE will be purchasing carpentry machinery to train 
their own people in this art and in making furniture for the national 
The Awa experience has taught the following lessons: 
1. The need to train community representatives right from the start in all 
aspects of forestry management. 
2. The importance of a strong and representative organisation, able to 
manage a forestry project through all its stages and facilitate planning 
and assessment processes with its member organisations. 
3. The community limits and its areas of forest management, either family 
or communal, must be agreed on and physically delimited in the forest. 
4. The communities involved in the project must participate actively in 
the programming and assessment of activities related to forest management. 
5. Care needs to be taken to avoid creating false expectations in the 
communities regarding the possible price of the timber extracted and the 
time and effort required to carry out a good forestry management plan. 
Transparency must prevail at all times. 
6. Forestry management and timber marketing should not be considered as 
the only productive alternatives for the community, but rather as part of 
an integrated system for family and community maintenance including 
agro-forestry, animal breeding, handicraft production, etc. 
7. The process for forestry certification is costly and complex. Although 
FCAE has managed to find resources to cover the costs of the visits by the 
evaluators, the question needs to be asked whether all the communities 
interested in certifying their forestry operations will manage to cover 
this cost. 
    From the above it is clear that community-based forest management is not 
exempt from problems, but it is also clear that these can be solved. The 
Awa's experience may be of great help to enable other communities to 
develop similar processes --adapted to their own conditions-- aimed at 
making forest conservation compatible with the improvement of the living 
conditions of all those who inhabit these areas. 
Article based on information from: "Experiencias de la Federación Awá del 
Ecuador en el manejo y conservación de su territorio", a paper prepared by 
Hermes Cuasaluzán, Coordinator for the Federation of Awa Centres in 
Ecuador Projects and Jaime Levy; sent by Jaime Levy, ALTRÓPICO, e-mail: . The entire paper can be consulted at: 
- Eco-forestry: A Ray of Hope in Solomon Islands 
Solomon Islands in the western Pacific have been ravaged by nearly three 
years of civil conflict. The economy is in tatters, the main city Honiara 
is run by militant groups, and most education, health and public service 
functions are not working. In this climate the corruption ridden, 
destructive and often illegal industrial logging sector has continued 
At the village, where most people live in Solomons, the former small 
businesses of eco-tourism, copra, cocoa and marine product exporting have 
all but come to halt due to a lack of visitors, markets or logistical 
problems. However, community-based eco-forestry has managed to continue, 
and more people are turning to it to generate a sustainable income instead 
of the possible option of destructive logging. NGO eco-forestry support 
programmes have been going for more than 10 years in Solomons, including a 
joint Solomon Islands Development Trust/Greenpeace Ecoforestry Programme 
--so the lessons have been learned, and they know how to make village 
projects a success. 
Key lessons and critical success requirements include: 
- have a clear set of non-negotiable support programme entry requirements, 
such as undisputed land tenure or rights, a functioning community 
organisation and decision making body, equitable decision making and 
income sharing, and rejection of destructive activities. 
- only invest in supporting projects that meet the 'success' requirements 
otherwise it will end in disappointment on both sides. 
- ensure the support programme has integrated activities from village and 
forest level support to marketing and certification. 
- translate any external standards requirements (e.g. FSC) into simple 
check-lists that are easy to use and understand. 
- plan to provide field support and monitoring to village projects for 5 
to 10 years. 
- pay particular attention to social indicators in support and monitoring, 
especially how money is shared and spent. 
However, NGO programmes struggle to get the funds they need to maintain 
and expand their programmes. Due to the security situation in the country 
donors such as the European Union are staying away, and potential donors 
such as the World Bank and AusAid hide behind rhetoric. 
With the ongoing conflict in Solomons it is remarkable that any village 
eco-forestry projects are able to continue operating. This is a measure of 
the commitment and ingenuity of the village people, and the NGO field 
staff who support them. Eco-forestry offers one of the few hopes for 
forest conservation and to oppose rampant destructive Malaysian logging. 
By Grant Rosoman, Greenpeace Australia Pacific, e-mail: 

World Rainforest Movement 
International Secretariat