As part of their commitment to halving extreme poverty and food insecurity by 2015, the Forestry Department of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), with the support of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), held an interagency forum on “The Role of Forestry in Poverty Alleviation" in September 2001. One issue raised during this forum was that the demand for overly detailed forest management plans was creating a barrier for rural communities trying to acquire utilization rights to forest areas. There was therefore a need to simplify planning and monitoring requirements for collective forest managers (CFMs) in order to address this (FAO, 2001).
Similar issues were highlighted during two International Workshops7 on Community Forestry in Africa (Banjul, Gambia in April 1999; and Arusha, Tanzania in February 2002) where it was pointed out that the unnecessarily demanding requirements for forest management plans was a constraint to realizing the potential benefits from community forestry and that simpler forest management plans drawn up by communities with technical assistance from the forest service should provide a sufficient basis for any community-based forest management (FAO, 2000). Prescriptive legal requirements, time-consuming and inflexible registration processes and complex management plan formats, when imposed as a prerequisite for community-based forest management, limit the opportunity for local forest users to make real forest management choices reflecting their unique needs and conditions and hence reduces the opportunity for collective forest management to contribute significantly to rural livelihoods and eliminating rural poverty.
The aim of this working paper is to stimulate thinking regarding possible appropriate changes in forest policies and practices to allow FMPs to be used as an enabling tool to support, rather than to constrain, small-scale forest managers. This will be done by first identifying the problems created when conventional forest management planning concepts are imposed on the collective forest management situation in developing countries. Recent approaches used to address these problems by taking examples of simpler FMPs developed by CFMs and individual small-scale forest managers in various countries will then be described. By drawing out from the more successful approaches, some general guiding principles for forest management planning by CFMs are presented.
The study includes some analysis of FMPs for individual, as opposed to collective, forest managers since this helps to clarify the general concept of simpler FMPs. However, it is accepted that land-use decision-making and control over forest resources differs between individual and collective forest management situations. Ideas and concepts relating to individual forest managers have therefore only been included where they contribute to the discussion on FMPs for collective forest managers.
Chapter 2 offers an analysis of some of the main problems which arise where conventional FMPs and planning concepts are directly applied to the CFM situation. Chapter 3 then collates a range of experiences with simpler FMPs both in terms of the enabling policies and legislation and the field-based practices of applying simpler planning systems in collective forest management. Chapter 4 then continues by identifying some broad guiding principles for simpler FMPs by drawing on the analysis of selected examples of promising practices. As a general conclusion, plans for livelihood-oriented8 forest management have been simplified in various ways whilst this appears to have been harder to achieve with enterprise-oriented forest management which usually requires more detailed and accurate quantitative information plus an element of business planning. The importance of applying some of the successes with simplifying management plans for livelihood-oriented forestry to all types of management plan are stressed, and a 4-stage planning process is outlined which could provide the basis for all types of collective forest management. Chapter 5 highlights some pertinent yet critical policy and legislation issues influencing the implementation of forest management plans, whilst recognizing that some of these issues are beyond the direct influence of field practitioners. Finally, Chapter 6 draws some overall conclusions from the study.
Annexes A & B provide suggested contents of simpler FMPs, both for livelihood-oriented forest management and community-based forest enterprises.
The information on which this study was based includes written material collated by the Forestry Policy and Institutions Service (FONP) of FAO (e.g. forest management plan formats, planning guidelines, relevant legislation, and policy documents) using mostly informal contacts9 with forestry professionals involved in collective forest management and through material available on the internet.
7 These workshops were organised by the Forests, Trees and People Programme (FTPP) of FAO in conjunction with Gambian Forestry Department, Tanzanian Forestry and Beekeeping Division, respectively, with financial support of the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ)
8 In this paper, “livelihood-oriented forestry” means people-centred forest management for supplementary income generation and domestic/subsistence use. Livelihood-oriented forest management is particularly important for the poor as a “security net” during times of shock.
9 Contacts were made with forestry professionals in 34 developing countries