Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page


This study forms one part of a programme directed towards increasing the contribution forestry makes towards alleviating the conditions of the rural poor in developing countries. The purpose of the study is to examine the nature and dimensions of dependence on forests and forest outputs at the local rural community level, to assess the associated problems and possibilities, and to identify the policies, requisites and measures that are likely to be necessary in order to initiate and implement successful forestry programmes for the benefit of rural communities.

Community forestry has been defined for the purpose of this study as any situation which intimately involves local people in a forestry activity. It embraces a spectrum of situations ranging from woodlots in areas which are short of wood and other forest products for local needs, through the growing of trees at the farm level to provide cash crops and the processing of forest products at the household, artisan or small industry level to generate income, to the activities of forest dwelling communities. It excludes large-scale industrial forestry and any other form of forestry which contributes to community development solely through employment and wages, but it does include activities of forest industry enterprises and public forest services which encourage and assist forestry activities at the community level. The activities so encompassed are potentially compatible with all types of land ownership. While it thus provides only a partial view of the impact of forestry on rural development, it does embrace most of the ways in which forestry and the goods and services of forestry directly affect the lives of rural people.

This study is a first attempt to bring together existing knowledge and ideas. It is addressed in the first instance to foresters, many of whom have long been aware of the need to satisfy local demand and of the possibilities that forestry has for furthering the development of rural economics. It is hoped that they will be encouraged, by this evidence of worldwide interest and support, to communicate their enthusiasm to agriculturalists, to administrators and politicians and to the public at large. They are invited to make use of the material as presented in preparing literature suitable for reading by non-specialists in their various countries. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) hopes to follow up this study with a number of documents and other supporting materials which will provide more detailed information designed to assist the task of implementing the concepts outlined here.

The study was developed through a sequential process of assembling, collating, analysing and interpreting the available information on past and present experience in forestry activities at the community level in different parts of the developing world. This has been carried out by the Forestry Department of FAO, with the support of the Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA) and the collaboration of experts from 18 developing countries with actual experience in such forestry activities.

This process was initiated by setting up a small Advisory Panel on Forestry for Local Community Development. At its first meeting in October, 1976, the Panel decided to proceed by commissioning a series of relevant case studies. These were reviewed and analyzed at an enlarged second meeting of the Panel in June, 1977. This body of material formed the basis for a first draft of the present study. The draft was then used as the starting point for a more extensive appraisal in the course of an Expert Consultation on Forestry for Local Community Development, which was held in Indonesia in December, 1977.

At the Consultation the experiences reported in the draft were reviewed, the lessons of the additional experience of the countries represented at the meeting were added, and the analysis was revised in the light of this wider knowledge. The study was then rewritten to incorporate these revisions and additions and the comments received in response to the circulating draft for comment both inside and outside FAO.

In the study the information has been synthesized in three parts:

- The nature and extent of forestry at the community level, and of the problems and possibilities that arise.

- Policies, programmes and other requisites necessary for successfully developing forestry activities for the benefit of rural communities.

- Technical considerations to be taken into account in implementing community forestry activities.

As forestry at the community level is an integral part of rural development, much of what has to be done to advance such forestry activities is common to what has to be done in the pursuit of rural development as a whole. In order to maintain a forestry focus, only those technical aspects specific to forestry activities are dealt with in any detail in the document - others are referred to only in passing. However, Appendix 1 contains a list of the more important steps that need to be undertaken in order to analyze the situation of the community in which a forestry component is to be inserted or strengthened.

To provide a complete account of how to identify, design and implement community forestry projects it would also be necessary to extend the coverage and provide more detail on some of the forestry-related components. In particular, a total listing of all possible forest-based activities that might contribute to development at the household or community level would be much more extensive than that contained in Appendix 3. In addition, much more information on techniques, costs, marketing, etc., would be needed for each. Similar considerations apply to the range of possible species that might be grown. In recognition of this, the Expert Consultation recommended that separate compendia of information be compiled for each of these two areas. Coverage in the present study is therefore selective, confined to a representative list of some of the more important species, products and processes.

The study has had the benefit of input from a large number of people. In particular the contribution is gratefully acknowledged of the experts who were members of the Advisory Panel on Forestry for Local Community Development. They provided much of the case material which constituted the core of the experience on which the study was based. In addition, through the discussions at the meetings of the Panel, they provided a vital input to the analysis and interpretation of the experience. The expert members of the Panel were the following:

Mr. Zerai ARAYA
Former General Manager
Forestry & Wildlife Development Authority
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Mr. Marc DUROJEANNI Ricordi
Servicio Forestal y de Fauna
Ministerio de Agricultura
Lima, Peru

Agricultural Sciences Research Department
National Sciences and Technology Development Agency
Ibadan, Nigeria

Acting Director of Forestry
Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism
Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania

Mr. A. SAMPER Gnecco
Corporación Nacional de Investigación y Fomento Forestal
Bogotá, Colombia

Member Planning Committee
Government of India
New Delhi, India

Mr. J. H. LOPEZ Parodi
Director Zona Agraria
Iquitos, Peru

Mr. SOEKINAN Atmosoedarjo
Perum Perhutani
Jakarta, Indonesia.

Acknowledgement is equally extended to the exports from 15 countries and several institutions who constituted the final review body at the expert Consultation. Appreciation is also expressed to the large number of people who contributed to the drafting and re-drafting of the material for the study. The study was prepared by T.G. Allen, J.E.M. Arnold, L.S. Botero, K.F.S. King, E. Pelinck, F. Schmithüsen, Tran Van Nao and R.L. Willan of the Forestry Department of FAO, and P. Stewart of the Commonwealth Forestry Institute in Oxford.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page