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6. Research priorities and immediate actions

1. National forest policies need to be put in place and, once put in place, they should be reviewed regularly. It is a fact that many countries do not have forest policies even though they have laws affecting forests, forestry and even people who depend on the forests.

2. Seeing that community-based management is the best way forward, there is need to revitalise and further the (often latent) capacities of local levels of community in service of themselves and the nation and its resources at large because the partnership of local communities and their institutions in the national strategy is indispensable to the sustainable utilisation of natural resources, conservation and development.

3. In formulating the forest policy related to community-based management, great attention should be paid to both process and scale because a policy that has evolved from multi-stakeholder participation, starting at the local level, is more likely to be practical and sustainable for implementation purposes.

4. Studies on the values and dynamics of secondary forests will provide governments with the strongest bargaining weapon at the global roundtable whenever issues on that type of forest or its users arise. For example, policy reform and institutional strengthening, by identifying and rectifying policy and market failures, with special emphasis on expanding public participation in forest resource planning and management, and mobilising private sector resources and skills (World Bank, 1994) are some of the spin-off products from such studies.

5. Most, if not all, countries with secondary forests are destined to continue as agrarian economies: all innovative work on the management of these forests should be carried out within, and as only one component of that rural economy. But in general, and above all else, governments need to take bold political decisions and develop new civil institutions to improve governance and accountability regarding forest use.

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