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Participatory Approaches to planning
for Community Forestry

Results and lesson from case studies
conducted in Asia, Africa and Latin America

A synthesis report

Theo M.P. Oltheten

Forests, Trees and People Programme
Forestry Department
Working Paper No. 2


One of the objectives of the Forests, Trees and People Programme (FTPP) is the development of new methods, tools and approaches for community forestry. Within this objective, many activities currently under development are related to participatory methodologies, such as the development of training packages in rapid rural appraisal, the study of management tools for "participatory assessment, monitoring and evaluation" (PAME) and the elaboration of training packages in gender analysis. Over the past years, many projects using these tools have been started in Latin America, Africa and Asia. In order to disseminate the results of these experiences, it is important to conduct research on the projects' use of participatory development tools and the effectiveness of this approach.

With this in mind, nine case studies of community forestry projects were conducted by national consultants during the period 1993-1994, under the overall guidance of Theo Oltheten, a sociologist working with the Centre for the Study of Education in Developing Countries (CESO) in Holland. Mr. Oltheten has worked extensively with community forestry projects, mainly in Latin America. Among other accomplishments, as project manager of a forestry project in Peru, he managed to turn the project around using the techniques of participatory planning discussed in this study, making it into a successful example of the benefits of this approach.

Projects selected as case studies are known to follow a participatory approach and are being executed in countries or regions where the FTPP is active and has its facilitators present. Four of the selected projects are part of the Interregional Participatory Upland Conservation and Development Programme (PUCD) because participatory planning constituted an essential component of the projects' design. For the preparation of this synthesis report, technical reports and other relevant project documents were consulted in addition to the reports produced by the national consultants.

This study is part of the Community Forestry Working Paper series, and forms an important part of the input to the work-in-progress on participatory planning, an area recognized to be a weak link in the development of participatory processes for community forestry. The publication of this Working Paper was funded, by the multi-donor trust fund which finances the Forests, Trees and People Programme (FTPP), which is devoted to improving rural women's and men's livelihoods through sustainable self-help management of tree and forest resources. Within the FAO Forestry department, FTPP is coordinated by Marilyn W. Hoskins, Senior Community Forestry Officer, Forestry Policy and Planning Division.

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