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Participatory forestry is now a widely accepted concept and many governments have put policies and laws into place to support the local management of forest resources. However, some constraints have appeared which prevent the full realization of the potential offered by the devolution of ownership or management rights to the rural population. As identified in various international fora (International workshop on participatory forestry in Africa, 2002, Forum on the role of forestry in poverty alleviation, 2001), one of these constraints is the unrealistic requirements imposed on rural communities for the preparation of forest management plans. This is in this context that FAO started to look at existing attempts and experiences to solve this problem in various part of the world. This work has resulted in this working paper which has been prepared with the support of a number of persons.

The main source of the information on which this working paper is based is a survey conducted by Mr. Hiroyuki Tanaka when he was an FAO officer with FONP, and who deserves special thanks for his valuable contribution. We would like also to express our sincere thanks to the following people who contributed their experiences and ideas regarding current practices in forest management plans during this survey:

Mr. Krister Andersson, Mr. M. Bunnara, Mr. Fernando Carrerra, Mr. Sudarsan Dey, Mr. Olivier Dubois, Mr. Steve Gretzinger, Mr. Rudy Guzman-Gutierrez, Mr. Kubo Hideyuki, Mr. Martin Lux, Mr. Domingos Macedo, Dr. Yam Malla, Ms. Cécile Ndiebet, Mr. Pablo Pacheco, Ms. Neema Pathak, Ms. Alejandra Rivadeneira, Ms. Hilda Rivera, Mr. Ogden Rodas, Mr. Daniel San Román, Dr. R.C. Sharma, Mr. Gustavo Solano and Mr. Jaap Vermaat

After Mr Tanaka drafted a write-up of this survey, FAO officers from FORM1, LEGN2 and FONP3 provided extensive additional information and constructive comments. The resulting report was then substantially edited and elaborated for FAO by Mr. Peter Branney. This final version was produced by Mr. Andrew Inglis, FONP officer, on behalf of a Forestry Department inter-service informal working group consisting of Ms Mette Loyche-Wilkie (FORM), Mr Froylan Castenada (FORM), Mr. Dominique Reeb (FONP), and Ms Mirjam Kuzee (FONP).

It is hoped that this working paper will be a useful reference point and inspiration for government agencies, other organizations and practitioners who are working on the development and implementation of effective ways to strengthen the role of sustainable forest management in meeting the livelihoods needs of the rural population. This work is a first attempt to assess the existing state of the art on adapted and simpler forest management plans. FAO intends to conduct further work to test, refine and disseminate best practices related to simpler forest management plans and in that regard we will welcome your suggestions, comments and collaboration to ensure that forest management plans become a catalyst for successful local, collective forest management.

Manuel Paveri

Chief, Forestry Policy and Institutions Service

Forestry Policy and Information Division

Forestry Department

1 Forest Resources Development Service

2 Development Law Service

3 Forestry Policy and Institutions Service

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