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The Policy Framework
Requisites of a Programme
Project Design and Evaluation
Institutional and Educational Aspects




This study is designed to contribute to one of the world’s most pressing problems - the development of rural areas. The term ‘development’ as it relates to the change of a given society and its environment both in qualitative and quantitative terms is a phenomenon which has been debated extensively during the last 30 years without arriving at any commonly accepted concept or methodology. Furthermore, there is often widespread disagreement regarding the ultimate goals of development for a particular country. The sense in which the word ‘development’ is used in this study is briefly described below.

The objective of development is to enable the populations of any rural community to live a ‘better life’ in equilibrium with the environment and natural resources of the target area. The natural resources available to any community are finite, yet population growth in most communities has been expanding at an alarming rate with the result that many of the scarce natural resources are being destroyed, thereby further compounding the problems of attaining a stable equilibrium condition. There are two options to be considered: i) to find new systems of managing a given area or region which will maintain an acceptable equilibrium between society and the natural resources; or ii) to move people out of saturated areas to relieve the pressure on the natural resources of a given area. This study deals only with finding new or improved management systems which will both maintain and improve the productivity of the natural resources and simultaneously increase the population carrying capacity of the target area. Surplus populations in excess of the acceptable equilibrium status will need to migrate.

The concept of a ‘better life’ is also a relative term both within a given society and between various countries of the world. The minimum level of a ‘better life’ as used in this study would be at least to supply the basic needs of the population in terms of sufficient produce and/or income to provide adequate food, clothing and shelter to maintain the health of the rural population and a general state of well-being.

Societies maintain themselves through constant adaptive change in order to become compatible with the surrounding physical environment. This adaptation is being accomplished more and more consciously by information exchanged between people with a greater variety of experiences. Encouragement of variety and experiment is therefore one way in which a society may ensure its survival.

Development processes therefore, applied to the rural community, require an adaptation of the population to more complex behaviour patterns which will bring about an improved environment capable of achieving an acceptable ecological and economic equilibrium. Information is thus one of the key elements of satisfactory development. If development is to be achieved at the required rate, it is necessary to avoid the acute human misery, economic and resource losses occurring because of disadaptation of the people, through either their own unfortunate behaviour patterns or misguided government programmes. An enormously greater effort is therefore required to increase effectively the exchange of technical and economically sound information in all directions both between developing countries themselves and, where applicable, between developed and developing nations. It is not the intention to impose a ‘standard’ or ‘model’ view upon each community, but rather to provide each community with a set of information which will enable each group to find the development pattern which is most appropriate to their particular conditions.

This study does not, therefore, propose ‘the’ solution but it does suggest ways in which the search for workable and readily adaptable solutions may be stimulated in the rural areas of the world..

The Policy Framework

As was seen in Part I, the role that forestry may play in rural development varies enormously from one type of society to another and from one locality to another. The strategies available to governments are bound to be even more varied in view of the range of ideologies and resources. Certain considerations may nevertheless apply to all or most countries, but for the purposes of this study it is assumed that a forestry role is both possible and desirable.

First, forestry is part of the larger problem of rural development, and this is only likely to be solved if sufficiently high priority is given to the rural sector. There must be a commitment by government to rural development. To a certain extent this need not diminish the resources available for urban investment, since part of the rural spending will prevent migration which otherwise would add to the burden on city budgets. Improved rural productivity will also increase the total amount of resources available for both sectors. To some extent however there is likely to be a need for some redistribution of resources from town to country, which may be justified on grounds of equity.

Second, forest development is intimately bound up with varied aspects of the rural way of life, and solutions require an integrated approach. Improvements in agricultural productivity or in the organization of grazing may be preconditions for the release of land to forestry, in which case coordination of the various technical services will be required. In some cases a restructuring of land ownership may be necessary before improved use of resources can be achieved. A policy of integrating forestry into rural development is therefore likely to require appropriate legislation relating to land tenure, land reform and land colonization.

Third, if development is to be through the adaptation by communities, of those technologies, processes, institutions and ‘systems’ which are related to their own societies, and if it is not to lead to disruption of their values, there must be a vastly improved flow of information and opinion between the members of the community and external bodies. This flow should not be in one direction only: policy should be formulated paying due attention to the views of rural dwellers. It is essential that the involvement and participation of the rural people in the development process be secured from the very outset. National and regional rural development plans must embrace the needs and aspirations felt at the community level. Forestry for community development needs to be a process which emanates from the ‘bottom-up’ and not something imposed from the ‘top-down’.

Finally, because forestry is usually a long-term process, it requires a continuing commitment from government. It is better to have no project rather than a failed project or - still worse - a succession of failed projects. This does not necessarily mean that government should be called upon to guarantee all the resources needed for the full cycle of a community forestry project. In pursuance of the overall objective of self-reliance, communities should be encouraged to mobilize their own resources for their forestry projects. The role of government should usually be that of getting the process started and of ensuring continuity.

Requisites of a Programme

Having made a long-term policy commitment to forestry in a context of rural community development, it becomes necessary to lay down a programme within which projects may be included. Many considerations are common to programme and project design and any division of them is somewhat arbitrary. This section confines itself, as far as possible, to higher level decisions. Those respects in which a programme is simply the aggregate of its projects will be considered in the next section.

First, there is the question of size and this is closely bound up with that of duration. There may be a temptation to opt for a large annual programme over a short period rather than a smaller one for longer, whether out of a concern to impress or because of anxiety about a possible change of policy. The most rational choice is to start slowly on a small scale and allow the programme to grow in size and speed as experience and confidence are gained. The limiting factor at the outset is likely to be trained personnel at all levels and the initial size should be fixed as a function of their availability.

Second, there is the question of location. Many considerations are relevant but perhaps the most important is visibility. Successful projects are needed for demonstration to members of communities that are to be affected by later projects, and also to convince the urban dweller that the expenditure of the government is producing results. The first projects should therefore be strategically sited, for example, near to major roads or railways and in places, wherever possible, that are typical of whole regions of a country. Advantage should be taken of any existing realizations which may indicate that a community is ripe for an early project and likely to succeed with it. The natural progression would be to move outwards from these first project areas on to neighbouring land until the whole programme is completed.

Third, the general objective is to enable communities to produce what they need at an economic cost. Local demand, e.g., for fuelwood, must often take precedence over national demand, e.g., for pulpwood. This does not imply that villagers should be maintained in a subsistence economy, producing no saleable surplus and buying little or nothing from outside. Insofar as they have a comparative advantage, they should be helped to develop marketable forest products.

The fourth area to be considered is the question of staffing. Clearly there may be a need for outside support and supervision: if it were possible for development to occur spontaneously, it would already be happening. Insofar as community action is hindered by lack of means rather than lack of information; the role of outside personnel may be minimal, but there will be many countries in which a large input of information and skills is required. Because of the importance of tact, humility and imagination in dealing with villagers, especially where linguistic or ethnic differences are added to those of income and education, field staff should be selected for outstanding personal qualities as well as technical ability. It may even be that the programme should be designed around the people that are available to run it, at least in its first stages.

Fifth there is a need to specify, for the programme as a whole, that local labour is to be used as much as possible rather than mechanical means. This does not imply that machines should be renounced where their contribution is important and difficult to replace. Where labour is scarce mechanization might be needed. Simple levels of mechanization could also improve productivity, reduce drudgery and fatigue and permit tasks to be undertaken that would be beyond the possibilities of manual labour. Where local labour is available, however, it may be that extra monetary costs are justified where machines would be cheaper. The social cost of failing to relieve unemployment and of failing to involve the population in the work must be taken into account.

Finally, in estimating the budget of a programme, particular importance must be attached to financing the period that precedes harvest or the realisation of production. Many communities are discouraged from planting trees essentially by the prospect of having to bear costs or having to forego the use of land for several years. Even where there are other obstacles to planting, this factor is bound to be important. Appropriate ways of disbursing sufficient sums, whether as grants, loans or tax relief, must be built into the programme. In this, government might be able to draw on more than its own resources by fostering support for community forestry from industry and other non-government sources, through tax incentives, etc.

Project Design and Evaluation

In the context of the present discussion, a community forestry project can be defined as a set of interconnected actions and works executed primarily by local community residents to improve their own welfare. There may be outside inputs - extension, training, guidance, technical help, financing, etc. - but the basic focus of a community forestry project is on community involvement in doing something for itself.

At the same time, the definition also calls attention to several potential problems that arise in specifying and appraising this type of project. Any project incurs ‘costs’ in that it ties up resources. To be worthwhile, it should result in benefits which match or exceed these costs. The traditional financial and economic criteria for judging the ‘worth’ of a project may be difficult to apply to community forestry projects. How can one judge the financial worth of a project that involves communities where half or more of their daily productive activities are outside the monetary economy, or where a major input into the project is ‘free’ labour supplied by local residents? How does one place a financial value on the increase in self-reliance and self-respect that may evolve as part of the benefit of the project? Project planners and decision-makers have to develop a different set of evaluation criteria which reflect the broader socio-economic objectives of society. Thus, the role of socio-economic analysis, in contrast with financial analysis, becomes much more important in the evaluation of such projects. The case for community development projects and programmes essentially rests not on their profitability, nor even usually on direct quantifiable estimates of their economic returns compared with competing users of public funds. This is an area comparable to health or education, which require government commitment to providing the funding necessary for meeting basic needs.

Elements within a given community forestry programme or project may be amenable to financial analysis - e.g., smallholder tree plantations for production of wood for sale - and such should rightly be evaluated in financial terms. Financial analysis can also be useful in determining which way of achieving a particular goal would be most efficient. But in general, the overall scope of a community forestry project is quite different from a traditional commercial forestry project. The objectives are different and so should be the basic criteria for their evaluation.

Project design must start with the formulation of goals to be achieved. A community forestry project is one that is a response to a basic need felt by the community, defined in terms of a goal to meet that need, and the link between such goals and the basic objectives and needs of the community must be kept clearly in mind. A project should not be designed to ‘protect & watershed’ as an end in itself. Rather, protection of the watershed is a means to achieve a community goal of maintaining soil fertility so that people can eat (or can eat more cheaply); or it may be a means of protecting life and health through maintenance of water quality; or it may be a means for achieving any number of other goals associated with fundamental objectives and needs of local communities.

The project design must be consistent with the physical, cultural, political-legal, and socio-economic environments within which the project will function. If the purpose of the project is to change some aspect of the basic cultural or existing physical environment, as will often be the case with community forestry projects, the project design must include the means to effect this change. In this case, a basic objective of the project is to change the conditions of ‘consistency’, not ignore them.

The project must also be workable within the context of those existing constraints which cannot be controlled or changed, e.g., limits on the availability of resources such as land, skilled manpower, technical knowledge, funds, etc. Again, a basic purpose of the community forestry project may be to charge the conditions which constrain development, for example, through training programmes, land redistribution, research, etc. However, changes can often only be made slowly over time and a community forestry project, which involves an interrelated set of actions, works and outputs can never move faster than the slowest link. If all components but one are workable, that one will make the project unworkable, unless it is removed from the project. The project as a whole must be workable and the role of design and evaluation is to ensure that such is the case.

The project design which is chosen should be the one that provides an efficient means for achieving the selected goal. It is the rule rather than the exception that there will be more than one consistent and workable way to achieve a certain goal. It is at this stage that consideration of costs and benefits through socio-economic analysis enters the picture to provide guidance to the decision-maker as to which of the alternatives is likely to be most efficient and evidence on the project’s value for use in making decisions on financial commitments,

It needs to be recognized that the identification and design of community forestry projects, as is the case with most rural development projects, is beset by very real information problems. The guidelines outlined above can do little more than provide a loose framework within which to exercise judgement. In addition to the measurement problems mentioned, little is likely to be known initially about the complex framework of factors which make up the social, economic and physical environment of the community in question. This being so, it will generally be desirable to initiate projects at a modest level, recognizing that there is much that is unique in each situation, which can be assessed in terms of project design only through learning-by-doing. In particular, local involvement is likely to be a gradual process, which could be aborted rather than accelerated through too precipitate an attempt to get the project under way. Projects should be gradually expanded only as more knowledge is gained through monitoring and evaluating progress as it takes place, and as local confidence and participation builds up.

Institutional and Educational Aspects

Institutional Aspects
Extension and Training


If forestry is to take its rightful place in local community development, the active interest and involvement of the rural population in forestry programmes right through from the design stage will be a first essential, followed by a continuous process of communication between the people and the various government agencies which will be involved in any integrated rural development programme. Changing the minds and attitudes of the people and of government officials through extension, training and education, and providing an appropriate institutional and organizational structure to foster communication and participation must be of prime importance for the promotion of rural forestry.

Of particular relevance will be the organizational structure of the government agencies to ensure an integrated approach and sufficient staff at the ‘grass-roots’ level to encourage motivation and provide technical advice;’ the organization at the community level to ensure full participation; an examination of the legal provisions relating to forest land tenure and customary usage rights to ensure that these will not conflict with the development process; and a reappraisal of the educational programmes to ensure that the staff has a wide understanding of rural and social problems, not only from the forestry aspect.

Institutional Aspects

Organization of local communities

The importance of fostering self-reliance and the encouragement of communities to mobilize their own resources to run community forestry projects is mentioned again since a modification of the organizational structure and the responsibilities of local communities may be required to achieve these aims.

The most common local entity in which rural people may be organized is the formally constituted village community. Village communities are different from small settlements in the sense that they represent the lowest level of the country’s administrative and political organization, that they have a formally established pattern of decision-making and that they are headed by a representative of the village council who acts as a spokesman for the communities and represents at the same time, the government’s authority at the local level. There may also be customary communities, the role and importance of which nay vary to a great extent. In some countries customary communities are well-structured units formally recognized by the existing legislation and exercise important political and social functions within the country; in others they may be a reality for the rural people themselves but not be formally constituted and with limited influence in the administrative organization.

The existence of constituted local entities and their political and administrative role, as determined by the countries’ constitutional provisions, are of great relevance to the promotion of rural forestry, either directly if the communities are the owners of forest land or indirectly as a platform for fostering collaboration between the local people and the technical government agencies. In certain remote areas, to which new settlers are migrating, the organizing and strengthening of local communities may be an immediate prerequisite for the promotion of community forestry. The formation of local organizations specifically concerned with forestry for community development, such as cooperatives and voluntary associations, should be encouraged.

Though the approach to local development must involve the existing organizational structure of the community, it needs to be recognized that such structures can constitute an important impediment to change. Such organizations are more likely to reflect the interests of the richer and more powerful elements of the community than its poorer members. Where the organization is an elected one the short-term imperative of attracting votes can conflict with the longer term actions needed to pursue forestry solutions. Community development of the sort that encourages self-reliance among the poor may therefore be difficult without changes in the organizational structure of the community, or in the attitudes of those wielding power within it.

Land tenure, customary rights and status of forest land

Communal forest land or community forests owned by villages or customary entities are to be found in several countries of the tropical and subtropical zone, but the extent to which the community exerts its proprietary rights may vary greatly. In some countries most of the decisions relating to the use of the forest resource are made by the owners, subject to approval by the supervising technical forestry administration; the owners may also be directly involved in timber harvesting operations. In other countries important rights of timber disposal are held in trust or are directly administered by the local and/or the national government; the involvement of the community in managing the land is consequently more limited. Private forest land, owned by small farmers also exists in such countries as Chile, Honduras, the Republic of Korea and Paraguay but this form of forest tenure is limited, especially if compared with the forest ownership pattern in the European and North American regions.

In many tropical and subtropical countries the dominant or exclusive forest tenure is state forest ownership, but the local population is usually entitled to a wide range of customary usage rights on such land. In a few examples some form of undefined forest ownership exists in the sense that such land may eventually be transformed into state or community forests and is held in trust for the time being by the national government.

The relation of local people to the surrounding forests and to community forestry will certainly be influenced considerably by the prevailing form of land tenure. Their involvement and long-term interest may be greater if they have some direct influence on the management and utilization of the resource. A national policy aiming at fostering community forestry could thus lead to a reexamination of the existing forest tenure with the aim of introducing such tenurial arrangements that allow for a greater involvement of local people. Various possibilities could be considered:

- The creation or expansion of community forests. These forests would not necessarily have to cover large areas; they could consist of blocks of some tens to some hundreds of hectares but the area should be sufficient for the immediate needs of a village or settlement and allow for its rational management. The creation of communal forests could also play an important role as compensation for the limitation or abolition of customary rights in other parts of the forest. However, it has to be recognized that solutions which require decisions and actions by the community as a whole are more difficult to achieve than those that are based on the individual, or on individual households or farms, e.g., private woodlots.

- The promotion of private woodlots up to a certain maximum area provided that this would not lead to an irrational fragmentation of forest land.

- A more precise definition of existing customary rights and their further acceptance in forest resource planning and timber management. This could lead to the more effective protection of certain tree species, other plants or animals which are of importance to local villages, and also to regulations restricting the collection of customarily used forest produce in order to ensure its long-term availability.

- The introduction of medium- and long-term leasing systems in order to set aside a certain portion of state owned forest land for the exclusive or restricted use of local communities.

In many countries only a small proportion of land under forest cover or of potential forestry use is legally constituted as permanent forest land (forest reserves) and is demarcated as such on the ground. The remainder of the forest areas is either land for which no definite land-use decision has yet been made or land on which the forest cover will have to be removed since it is required for other land-use purposes. Whatever the legal status of the forests, it must be recognised that a large proportion of land in the vicinity of rural settlements is used simultaneously for agriculture, grazing, fuelwood production, etc., in a manner that does not always ensure the conservation of its fertility.

The legal status of forest land will be of concern to any programme for community forestry. If its objective is the establishment of plantations for the production of fuelwood or local construction timber, it must be ensured that the land is available for forest use on a reasonably long-term basis. Or if community forests are to be created and managed for the benefit of their owners it might be appropriate that they should have the status of permanent forest reserves. On the other hand, the combined use of agricultural and forestry production systems could be made more difficult if all forestry land was subject to the conventional reservation procedures. In such oases it may be necessary to elaborate more flexible arrangements that facilitate combined production methods on a long-term basis or allow for the temporary use of forest land for agricultural production.

In many countries, community forest development will be concerned with land used for agriculture and grazing on which forestry may have a complementary function. This refers, in particular, to tree planting along roads, canals, rivers and boundaries, the planting of fodder trees, the establishment of shelterbelts and windbreaks and alternate agricultural and forestry crop systems with short rotation tree species. Such land is usually owned by small farmers or local communities and subject to the agricultural land tenure legislation. Here again specific amendments and flexible arrangements may be required in order to facilitate the complementary role of rural forestry.

Cooperatives, local credit schemes and other incentives

Most countries have actively encouraged local cooperatives as an instrument to promote rural development. Whereas there are many examples of cooperatives concerned with production, distribution and marketing of agricultural crops, much less use has been made of them in the forestry sector. One reason is probably that large-scale rural forestry programmes are, in many countries, still at an initial stage; another could be the difficulties experienced in organising the utilization of tropical forests for the direct benefit of local communities. The few examples of strong forest cooperative development are to be found in countries implementing sizeable reforestation programmes or in those where community forests are already of some importance.

Greater concern of many governments for community forestry could lead to an increased interest in the promotion of forestry cooperatives. Forestry cooperatives may be organised at village level or comprise groups of settlers and forest owners, or larger regional units which include several villages. Forest cooperatives will often be concerned primarily with planting trees and harvesting the available forest produce but they could expand to processing and marketing to ensure greater benefit to the community.

Community forestry would also greatly benefit if existing agricultural cooperatives became more involved by incorporating certain forestry components into their field of activities.

There are various forms of incentives and local credit schemes which are directly related to community forestry or are at least potentially of considerable interest. The most common are of a monetary nature; they include outright financial grants related to standard plantation costs, tax rebate schemes providing for the rebates of tax payments from land and personal taxes against expenditure for forestry operations and loans that are usually made available at lower interest rates than those charged by the commercial banks.

Incentive schemes have so far been designed mainly for the promotion of large-scale forestry activities and tend to facilitate the operations of large landowners, timber companies and business investors whereas the small farmer in a remote village may find it difficult to benefit from then. Small farmers usually lack the assets necessary to secure loans, the terms of loans are often unfavourable to them, and bureaucratic procedures make it difficult for them to apply for loans. The considerable experience of the agricultural sector in channelling incentive and credit facilities to small farmers should be drawn on when new programmes for community forestry are designed. Moreover, those procedures that are applicable for the implementation of forest incentive systems should be carefully scrutinized with regard to their effectiveness for communal forests and small landowners.

Effective incentives for peasants and rural poor must be simple and may often better take the form of grants or the provision of goods, or of production means (fertilizer), or food aid to communities at or close to the subsistence level in order to enable them to divert part of their efforts to tree production. The World Food Programme is operating many food aid schemes. Other incentives which may be more appropriate for rural communities in remote areas, at least at the initial stage, include the use of physical production inputs as well as the execution of infrastructural improvements from which the local people will benefit directly. As far as forestry is concerned the most common example is the distribution, either free or at a nominal charge, of seedlings and the necessary hand tools for tree planting; the construction of access roads to communal forests by the forest administration is another example. In the general context of rural development these incentives may comprise a much wider range of inputs such as medical services, construction of community roads and water supply systems, the distribution of food and fertilizer and the provision of local construction material.

A further practice, which is not strictly an incentive scheme, is crop sharing between communal landowners and the government or a private company. Its basic idea is that the community provides the land and the necessary labour for establishing forest plantations while the forest service or a private company provides the seedlings, fertilizer and technical assistance. When the crop is harvested the net profit is divided among both parties on a proportional basis depending upon the inputs that have been made available. In some cases the planting and tending of the plantations is done by the forest service or a forest industry and not by the landowner.

The problem of the time gap between establishment and harvesting of forest plantations has been discussed before and the restraints resulting have to be recognized. Examples have been given how some countries have dealt with the problem. An interesting approach of advance payments on the future harvesting return has been developed in New Zealand in order to allow the establishment of plantations on communal land. This system is based on a crop-sharing agreement but, in addition, the government makes annual payments per hectare of planted area against the expected net crop value at the harvesting stage. The same principle could be applied through a forestry credit system, through which the landowner or the community would receive annual payments, calculated in the form of a rent, in relation to the crop value at harvest. The use of the average annual increment rate of the planted trees as the basic reference unit for the economic arid financial calculation would facilitate the application of such a system. In line with the basic objective of community forestry of promoting self-reliance, incentive and support programmes should be designed to enable the producer to build up his own resources so that external support can be progressively phased out.

Enabling legislation and regulatory provisions

In many countries the lack of appropriate legislation has been a considerable constraint to the integration of forestry into rural development. Many laws are characterised by a detailed set of provisions which are concerned more with the protection of the forest estate than with general development. In some cases the existing rules and regulations or the lack of appropriate provisions, in particular as far as the status of forest land is concerned, might even be an obstacle to the promotion of community forestry. A close review and, where necessary, a redrafting of the enabling legislation and regulatory provisions may be necessary as a prerequisite for the development of a community forest programme.

This study does not attempt to review in detail the various legal provisions. It is, however, important to summarise what type of legislation may have to be considered and to indicate that some of the existing legal provisions might impede forestry for community development and may have to be modified in order to support effectively the execution of field programmes.

Of major concern to community forestry is the country’s forest law together with its subsidiary forest regulations and rules. This law generally establishes the principles guiding the use and management of the forest resources, defines the nature and status of forest land, regulates its reservation and prescribes its timber allocation procedures. In many countries specialised forest legislation encompasses forest cooperatives, reforestation incentives and tax exemption. In others these matters are dealt with in the general agricultural or rural development legislation or in special laws on cooperatives and producers’ associations. There is also a wide range of other laws and regulations such as the land tenure legislation, legislation on land reform, colonization and rural development, as well as the organization, credit and business laws, the provisions of which might influence, directly or indirectly, the implementation of rural forestry programmes.

Involvement of government agencies and non-government organizations

As already mentioned it is the local community itself which must play the principal role in community forestry programmes but at the same time government agencies and existing non-government organizations will have to make important contributions.

A firm commitment by the government to community forestry development and a continuing involvement of the various services concerned is thus essential if any major break-through is to be obtained. This will entail the support of community forestry objectives in national, sectorial and regional development plans.

Several government agencies will usually be concerned directly or indirectly with community forestry. It is important to emphasize that the multi-disciplinary character of this subject will require the careful coordination of the various ministries and technical agencies that are concerned both with policy formulation and project implementation. Coordinating committees at ministerial level or formal consultation arrangements at departmental and divisional level may help to ensure the necessary collaboration.

Whatever distribution of responsibilities among the various government agencies may be decided on in any particular country, it is necessary that these responsibilities should be clearly defined and that the agency entrusted with the implementation of any programme has the full authority, adequate budgetary provisions and the organizational structure to carry it through.

The national forest administration, as the government’s agency primarily concerned with forest development, will certainly have to assume an important role in any expanding rural forestry programme. Most forest administrations have been concerned with commercial timber production and with the management of state owned land; their traditional concern with protection, policing, revenue collection and the production of wood as an industrial raw material, has had little relevance to community forestry. Fundamental changes will often be needed in structures, attitudes and training of national forest services in order to orient their activity more to the needs and aspirations of local communities. However, the many problems involved cannot be solved only by a reorientation within forestry agencies but will also require a complementary reorientation towards forestry within other agencies working in the field of community development. This understanding should then lead to increasing cooperation between forest departments and other government and non-government institutions.

Forest services will have to adapt their objectives and operational programmes more specifically towards community development which will entail changes in their organizational framework. A special division or department concerned with community forestry, extension and training may need to be created at central and regional levels. In addition the field staff will need to be reinforced so that continuous contact can be maintained with the rural people. Some sort of incentives may be necessary to encourage staff to stay in the field for long periods and their career prospects should be ensured so that there do not have to be frequent changes of staff.

The staffing pattern of a strengthened field organization, as well as the number of specialists required at central and regional levels, will have to be evaluated carefully. It is probable that a detailed assessment of the manpower demands for an increased programme of community forestry will lead to a substantial revision of the forestry sector’s manpower estimates. A first step towards a more realistic evaluation of future manpower requirements would be the revision of the currently used assessment methodology which plays little attention to the aspects of rural forestry.

Farmer associations could play an important role and their involvement should be sought at an early stage. Their interest, collaboration and support could contribute substantially to the promotion of community forestry programmes.

Non-government organizations operating at the community or regional level might also be associated with the promotion of community forestry. The many contacts of village leaders, religious leaders, representatives of youth groups or other local associations with neighbours and fellow community members, and their familiarity with the most pressing needs and problems, will put them in a position where they can respond more rapidly to the aspirations of rural people and help to increase their confidence and self-reliance than would be the case with government officials.

The possible contribution of forest industry also needs to be considered. Where forestry can be inserted as an income-generating activity, industry can certainly contribute directly to local forestry programmes through assuring markets and providing technical support. The experiences of some companies in the Philippines serve as a good example. There has been little experience of industry investing in social forestry but the management skills of the forest companies could be a valuable complementary element in promoting community forestry. Joint structures with government or non-government organizations could eventually emerge. Specific tax exemptions or loans to those industries that are prepared to support community forestry, or the introduction of a cass to be levied on certain production units to provide funds for rural forestry development could be considered.


The final institutional aspect is that of research which is recognized to be of considerable importance. While some research on items connected with community forestry has been and is being done in a number of national institutions, there has been little coordination of effort and communication of results.

All research should be applied research, should, be field orientated and should have clear objectives and there should be cooperation between countries themselves and with international research organizations such as the International Union of Forest Research Organizations, the International Development Research Centre and the International Council for Research in Agroforestry in the design of research experiments and in sharing experiences and comparing results.

The following areas of research are likely to be relevant to community forestry: sociology, species introduction, soil improvement, farming and silvicultural systems and techniques, systems for combined agriculture and forestry on a long-term or permanent basis, joint forestry and grazing, product utilization, identification of new sources of income, development of technology, economics of production, and soil and water conservation. Within such a research framework, countries would want to pay more attention to those areas which have a high priority according to their particular needs; these might be items such as incentives for people to implement soil and water conservation measures, or identification of new sources of incomes, improving the production of land or making fuller use of resources to increase employment and income.

There is a need to consider environmental objectives in community forestry research projects, particularly with regard to the improvement of degraded land. Other items could include studies on traditional systems of land use and on the nutritional needs and habits of the communities.

Social scientists should work with foresters in research projects to identify the particular needs of the community, identify constraints and to formulate priorities for the process of developing self-reliance with regard to the basic community needs.

Extension and Training

Dissemination of information

This subject has two equally important aspects: firstly, that the concept of community forestry should be spread widely to policy makers such as government ministers, planning commissions, senior officials involved in all aspects of rural development and to persons who have authority in public affairs; and secondly, that the benefits which community forestry could bring to rural areas should be brought to the attention of the public in general and particularly the people living in rural areas.

The policy making group can best be reached by the preparation and distribution of documentation explaining the role that forestry can play in rural development and stressing its labour intensive nature and any other factors which might justify strong government support. The role of national forest services and other government agencies concerned with conservation and the development of the resource should be clearly set out in such documentation. This could be complemented by lectures, the organizing of conferences and visits to demonstration areas - all stressing the multi-disciplinary nature of the exercise.

The public in general can best be reached through public information campaigns’ taking full advantage of the mass media. An excellent example of such use of the mass media was the nation-wide campaign launched in the Republic of Korea in which 21 000 village forestry associations were involved in large-scale planting programmes. Any campaign launched through the mass media would require careful preparation and would involve close personal contacts with media representatives and with the Ministry of Education.

If community forestry programmes are envisaged on any appreciable scale it may be necessary to create specialist posts in forest services specifically for public relations activity.

A further very important aspect of the dissemination of knowledge is the introduction of an understanding of the role of forestry in rural life into schools, starting at the primary level and continuing right through to adult education. In this connection regular visits by school children to see general forestry activities and to visit demonstration are should be encouraged.

Extension and training for rural communities

A wide range of promotional and educational actions, usually referred, to as extension and training, will be necessary to obtain the active interest and involvement of the rural population in the participation of programmes necessary for community forestry. An important first phase should be to assist rural communities to articulate and communicate their needs, their problems and their solutions as they themselves visualize them; this will help to reassure the people that the programmes drawn up are relevant to their needs and that they will derive benefit from them; it will also give the people a sense of responsibility towards ensuring the success of what would be ‘their’ programmes which would be carried out with whatever technical government support was necessary.

The more traditional role of extension may include:

- Pilot projects that are implemented by a government agency or by active and interested farmers, or by a combination of government and farmer which may bring about a direct response from other inhabitants. Such pilot projects should be carefully prepared and should be seen to reflect local conditions; they should be complemented by explanations regarding the inputs that are necessary to achieve the required results.

- Technical advice on many technical, economic and organisational aspects either on an ad hoc basis or through a programme of regular field visits. The supply of printed information and instruction material could also assist provided that illiteracy is not a major problem.

- Technical assistance through a technical government service which provides physical inputs and performs specific operations. In the early stages such inputs as seeds, seedlings, fertilizer and organisational support may be provided. At a more advanced stage, technical assistance may involve help in the management of communal forest land as well as support to or execution of specialised forestry activities such as the organization of local timber sales, wood extraction and maintenance of machinery.

Training is, of course, an integral part of all extension work but it may also be an important component in itself. Active training programmes, usually in the form of short-term courses, field visits and practical demonstrations, are an important prerequisite for community forestry. The content of such training programmes may cover specific forestry aspects such as the use and maintenance of hand tools, planting techniques, the tending of tree crops, the use of appropriate felling techniques and the observation of safety regulations. It may also be concerned with more general subjects such as health, agricultural inputs, community action, etc.

In practice several of these elements may have to be used simultaneously; it is the right combination which will determine the effectiveness of the extension and training measures.

The creation of an appropriate organization at the village level is of particular importance if duplication of extension efforts which may lead to confusion among the rural people is to be avoided. Possible organizational structures for extension work could be:

- the forest administration being responsible and providing specialised personnel, organizing forest cooperatives and collaborating directly with the villages and other government agencies giving technical advice and support in matters for which they have technical competence;

- the agricultural service being responsible and the forest service providing technical support and advice on request;

- a rural development service being responsible, relying on its own specialists in various technical disciplines with community forestry as part of a general rural extension programme;

- voluntary and other non-government training and extension groups engaged in rural development activities being responsible or participating.

Any such structure would have to be related closely to the organization of the local community; this will vary widely between countries so that any decisions on how extension programmes are to be carried out will rest with individual governments.

Extension methods, personnel and teaching material

It is beyond the scope of this study to discuss, in detail, extension methods which have been used successfully. Appendix 6 provides references on this subject. It is true to say that little work has been done in rural forestry extension and it will therefore be necessary to adapt general experiences and techniques to the specific aspects of community forestry.

Extension work and training of rural dwellers should take into account the experience and immediate interest of the trainees. The starting point should be the assembling and analysis of traditional knowledge and attitudes, and these should be related to the concepts and techniques to be introduced. The demonstration of immediate and direct benefits resulting from the proposed measures should be a major teaching objective. The use of local languages may be necessary.

Training programmes will have to be organized for local community leaders and interested farmers through the existing channels of the country’s vocational training system, supplemented if necessary through additional courses; they can be taught the principles of community forestry and, along with this, some land management rules for improved crop production. Arrangements should be made for the training of suitable youths from the villages where community forestry is introduced. As an incentive, stipends could be given to interested applicants.

Success or failure of a community forestry programme may often depend upon the presence of competent instructors. The creation of the necessary number of posts for such personnel, their selection and training, and continuous support to their activities are key elements for the implementation of such programmes.

Particular attention should be paid to ensure that extension is entrusted to people who have a genuine motivation and inclination for community activities and who are able to gain the confidence of the local people. In order to do this they must avoid giving the impression that their role is to impose forestry solutions on the community, but instead that it is to give advice in response to the community’s efforts to better its situation. In most cases women are mainly concerned with the collection of fuelwood and would thus benefit greatly from community forestry. In order to communicate effectively with the community on improvement of wood use and supply, it may well be necessary to have women foresters and field workers.

There is considerable need to prepare and disseminate teaching material such as manuals, booklets and audio-visual aids that can be easily used at all levels of the community. Textbooks to be used for functional literacy programmes should illustrate community forestry aspects. Such material should be as simple as possible and its preparation should be guided by what is known on the perceptual capacities of rural people. The use of manuals and textbooks, especially in rural areas which often have a high rate of illiteracy, may be limited. Such material should therefore be designed mainly for the extension worker or forestry instructor who can make use of it in working directly with the villagers.

The preparation of extension material for rural forestry needs to be coordinated within the various services involved in forestry, agriculture and rural development. Forestry extension units could have specialists for its preparation, production and dissemination.

Education and training for technicians and professionals

Changing the attitudes of people requires a broad understanding of rural development problems, as well as knowledge of specific technical and economic aspects, by those government officials concerned with the elaboration and execution of community forestry programmes. Education, especially at the technical and professional level, can help in the creation or improvement of such understanding.

A review of the existing teaching programmes of technical forestry schools and at university level indicates that comparatively little attention has been given to rural forestry problems. Forestry education programmes, both for serving personnel and for new entrants, should therefore place greater emphasis on:

- an insight into the socio-economic problems of poor rural areas;
- more effective ways of communication with rural populations and how to gain their confidence;
- land-use under arid and semi-arid conditions;
- soil and water conservation;
- fuelwood production;
- combined forestry and range management systems.

In addition, they should include basic notions of related subjects such as agronomy, fruit tree arboriculture and animal husbandry. New professional and technical-level forestry programmes need to be conceived to match emerging needs in the longer term.

Sufficient experience has been accumulated over the past ten years on aspects of community forestry to enable this subject to be introduced into teaching programmes. The curricula of forestry schools, both at the technical and professional levels, should be revised to include community forestry and more general courses in rural development as new subjects. At the same time more suitable teaching material should be prepared focussing attention on community forestry. This would help forestry students to look at social, economic and political problems more objectively. The basis of recruitment of forestry school instructors and forest service personnel should be expanded to include people with some experience in disciplines other than forestry, such as agronomy, sociology and anthropology.

Similarly forestry and agricultural students should become mutually acquainted with each other’s subjects. Interdisciplinary contacts with students of other faculties, in particular with sociologists and anthropologists, may be equally useful. It will also be of importance that training facilities for agricultural engineers and technicians as well as training programmes for rural extensionists incorporate certain forestry elements in their curricula in order to convey to the students of these disciplines some basic knowledge about the scope of forestry and its role in fostering the well-being of rural people.

As far as professional education programmes are concerned staff and students from the universities could become more involved in community forestry by having the opportunity to participate in surveys and studies on ongoing projects, and to work in actual field operations, so that they become more acquainted with the reality of rural life. This would be applicable both to forestry and agricultural schools, the establishment of interdisciplinary teams being particularly desirable.

The effective promotion of community forestry thus requires trained manpower with quite different skills than those of traditional forestry, and the establishment of new areas of specialization within the forestry structure. To achieve results quickly more must be done than simply restructuring the curricula for future generations of foresters. Some of the additional expertise needed now can be acquired by recruiting into forestry people from other disciplines, such as the social sciences, and by improving the knowledge of existing staff through continuing programmes or postgraduate education, where necessary, opportunities for training staff overseas through fellowships should be used more readily.

Inservice training

The revising of teaching programmes of educational institutions to incorporate the concepts of community forestry is likely to be a slow process and it will be some time before new staff trained in these concepts become available. In the meantime it will be necessary to arrange inservice training programmes for serving forestry personnel to enable them to carry out their future role in the promotion of forestry with an integrated rural development approach.

Programmes for inservice training should be arranged with great care and in close cooperation with the various ministries, development agencies and personnel from other disciplines so that full use is made of all the training and other facilities which may be available in the country. Short courses, visits and seminars should be organized and any forestry extension instructors should be given wide scope to spread their knowledge.

Advice from farmer associations, labour unions, etc., should be sought and practical training carried out in typical areas which will illustrate the technical, economic and social aspects, both positive and negative, of rural forestry development programmes.

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