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Responsibility for management of land designated for forestry is generally with the forest departments, which report directly to the ministry of Agriculture/Environment/Wildlife resources within the context of national land ownership arrangements or line ministry responsibility allocation. Apart from a few cases (such as in Swaziland and Mozambique) most countries have long histories of forest management, dating from early 1900s and forest policies that emerged from the 1950s.

A good forest policy is the driving engine for sustainable management. Virtually all countries have developed well-structured policies, many of which have recently been updated under the guidelines of the Tropical Forests Action Plan (TFAP). Some countries have undertaken institutional reform and adjustments such as harmonization of land-use sectoral policies under National Environment rationalization initiatives, and forest master plans.

It is noteworthy that revised national forest policies have opened up participation of the private sector, NGO partners and communities in sustainable forest management for multiple products.

Notwithstanding the policy adjustments, forest management programmes continue to be destabilized by policies that encourage:

These practices and policies promote pervasive influences on forest development and overtime have eroded support and commitment to sustainable management.

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