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Many initiatives that could be broadly described as multi-stakeholder processes have emerged in the Asia-Pacific region during the past decade or so, and a selection of these is described and discussed in this section. The list is not comprehensive, but is sufficient to give examples of the type and scope of the initiatives.

As a generalization, most, but not all, MSPs that have an international or regional origin tend to be concerned with influencing national policy. Those with a national or sub-national origin tend to be focused both on influencing national policy and changing field practice to move towards sustainable forest management on the ground (balancing economic, environmental and social outcomes). The origin of the initiative is used as the framework for the following discussion.

Initiatives with an international/regional origin

The following initiatives are listed in approximate chronological order based on the date of their establishment.

National Forest Programmes

(Extracted from FAO, 2005, and the nfp website –

National forest programmes were often perceived during the 1990s as being the natural follow-on from the donor-driven Tropical Forest Action Plans and National Forest Action Plans of the 1980s. However, there has been a tendency in recent years to broaden the perspective of what constitutes a national forest programme (NFP). NFPs in the contemporary sense refer to a wide range of approaches to the process of planning, programming and implementing forest activities to be applied at national and sub-national levels, based on a common set of guiding principles. The purpose of national forest programmes is to establish a workable social and political framework for the conservation, management and sustainable development of all types of forests, which in turn will increase the effectiveness and efficiency of public and private operational and funding commitments. National forest programmes require a broad inter-sectoral approach at all stages, including the formulation of policies, strategies and courses of action, as well as their implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

The objective of the National Forest Programmes is to achieve the goal of sustainable forest management for the benefit of society and, more specifically, for rural populations. They provide the overall framework to address forestry issues within a context of sustainable development. The concept was introduced by the Inter-governmental Panel on Forests (IPF) as an instrument for putting the IPF Proposals for Action and other internationally agreed obligations into operation at the country level. In particular, the FAO Forestry Department claims to support and promote the introduction and consolidation of participatory forestry processes at all institutional levels. This means strengthening institutional frameworks by adapting policies and legislation, enhancing forestry services and building the capacities of all stakeholders. Greater stakeholder ownership in national forest programme processes, to take account of the needs of civil society, is expected to facilitate the successful implementation of forest policies. FAO is currently developing a comprehensive set of guidelines aimed at improving meaningful participation by stakeholders in the NFP process (D. Reeb pers. com.).

The National Forest Programme Facility is a partnership among developing countries, donors, FAO and other international organizations to stimulate the participation of stakeholders in national forest programme processes through knowledge sharing and capacity building. A major focus of the Facility is to broaden stakeholder participation and empower community service organizations. Hosted by FAO, the Facility operates through a multi-donor trust fund. It began operations in 2002 and provides direct support to countries worldwide. Presently, the Facility has entered into Partnership Agreements with 57 countries, including 12 in the Asia-Pacific region (Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Mongolia, Nepal, Palau, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, Vanuatu and Viet Nam) and four regional organizations, including the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). Another 30 countries have applied for partnership.

Impact and effectiveness

The mid-term review of the NFP Facility in 2005 pointed out the following outcomes of the support:

Furthermore, the European Commission Results Oriented Monitoring of the NFP Facility in 2007 concluded that:

Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission

(Extracted from the APFC website:

The Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC) is one of six FAO Regional Forestry Commissions that cover the world’s major geographic regions. It has the broadest membership coverage of any forestry organization in the Asia-Pacific region, with 33 member countries. Participation in APFC sessions and activities also extends to NGOs, the private sector and academia. The APFC is a forum for advising and taking action on key forestry issues. It focuses on issues pertinent to Asia and the Pacific, a region characterized by its diversity and rapid changes.

The Commission discusses and analyzes forestry issues to promote environmentally sound, socially acceptable and economically efficient technologies and to encourage implementation of appropriate policies in line with changing trends in forestry. The specific activities implemented by APFC are decided upon by member countries during each APFC session, convened every two years. APFC does not formally employ staff, but rather works through study groups, working groups, networks and committees established to address specific issues. This informal method of working enables member countries to participate in activities that are of interest and/or relevant to their particular country. The Secretariat of APFC is hosted and staffed by the Forestry Department Group of the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAPO) in Bangkok.

APFC focuses on three main areas of work:

Impact and effectiveness

The regional impact of APFC has been evidenced in several of its recent initiatives. The Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting in Asia-Pacific, published in 1999, was developed through a participatory, multi-stakeholder process spanning two years. APFC has since continued to promote the development, adoption and effective implementation of national codes of practice for forest harvesting and reduced impact logging (RIL) through various training and awareness raising activities. A recent assessment indicated that the activities have contributed to the improvement of standards of natural forest management, although progress remains slow in much of the region. The positive developments were further indicated by improved regulations, increased interested in forest certification, and publication of RIL guidelines in a number of countries. In search of excellence: exemplary forest management in Asia and the Pacific was an APFC initiative to identify and document examples of good forest management in the region. The publication has received positive acclaim throughout the region and beyond, and over 6,000 copies have been distributed. Improved awareness of forest policies have resulted from APFC studies on the impacts of logging bans, effectiveness of incentives for plantation development, and decentralization and devolution.

Model Forest Program

(Details are extracted from the Model Forest website: and informed by B. Bonnell pers. com.)

The model forest concept originated in Canada in the early 1990s. The concept, which is applicable to all types of forests, promotes the building of partnerships of stakeholders for the development, testing, implementation and demonstration of innovative, sustainable approaches to the management of forests for a range of benefits in accordance with UNCED’s Forest Principles. Model forests are generally relatively large in area (existing sites range from 60,000 to 2.7 million ha) and forestry is the main, but not necessarily only, land use. Important activities in model forests include defining sustainable forest management in locally relevant terms, developing and monitoring local level indicators to measure progress towards sustainable forest management, sharing information and experiences through demonstrations and networking, and establishing active feedback mechanisms between local and national or sub-national policy levels. Individual sites are linked through national networks and through the International Model Forest Network.

Impact and effectiveness

There are currently 43 model forests in 20 countries worldwide with 8 in Asia (one each in China, India, Japan, Myanmar, Philippines and Thailand, and two in Indonesia). An evaluation of model forests projects in China, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand by Lai et al. (2002) found that, while the overall results were generally positive, there were several gaps and weaknesses that prevented the projects from capturing more fully the potential benefits of the Model Forest approach. These were:

Collaborative Partnership on Forests

(Extracted from Anon (2002), FAO (2005) and the CPF website

The Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) is an interagency partnership on forests that was established in April 2001. It is modeled on the high-level, informal Interagency Task Force on Forests that supported the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (1995-1997) and the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (1997-2000). The CPF is comprised of 13 international forest-related organizations, institutions and convention secretariats.

The mission of the CPF is to promote sustainable management of all types of forests, and to strengthen long-term political commitment to this end. CPF’s two objectives are to support the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) and its member countries; and to enhance cooperation and coordination among its members on forest issues.

CPF members facilitate the work of UNFF by: supporting the implementation of the IPF/IFF proposals for action; providing expertise and advisory services to the UNFF; and assisting in monitoring, assessment and reporting on forests. CPF members enhance cooperation and coordination on forests by developing synergies among partners and carrying out joint programming and collaborative activities, enriching the work of each member organization by the continuous exchange of information and innovative ideas.

The CPF operates in an open, transparent and flexible manner. It interacts and communicates with a wide range of other international and regional organizations, including NGOs, private sector entities and other major groups, involved in forest-related activities.

Impact and effectiveness

While no formal assessment has been carried out, the partnership is valued by the UNFF members, as evidenced by their insistence that it be maintained and strengthened in the new IAF post-2006. The key issues to be addressed are to: obtain greater alignment of the programmes of CPF member organizations with the UNFF agenda; avoid duplication and overlap to facilitate action; and encourage some members to become more active.

The Forests Dialogue

(Adapted from:

The Forests Dialogue (TFD), formed in 1999, is an outgrowth of dialogues begun under the auspices of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the World Bank and the World Resources Institute (WRI). These dialogues converged to create TFD when leaders decided there needed to be an on-going, civil society driven, multi-stakeholder dialogue platform to address important global forestry issues. TFD’s mission is to bring key leaders together to build relationships based on trust, commitment and understanding and generate substantive discussion on key issues related to achieving sustainable forest management around the world. TFD's dialogues are a transparent forum to share aspirations and learning and to seek ways to take collaborative action on the highest priority forest conservation and management issues. International forest and biodiversity leaders oversee the governance of TFD and the planning and execution of its dialogues. They are selected as individuals based on their personal interest and leadership, not as official delegates of any organization or sector. There are currently 22 members of the TFD Steering Committee from the major stakeholder groups including private landowners, the forest products industry, NGOs, retailers, aid organizations, unions and academia.

TFD is developing and conducting international multi-stakeholder dialogues on the following issues:

Forest Certification: six dialogues held.

Illegal Logging: three dialogues held (including one in Hong Kong, March 2005).

Intensively Managed Planted Forests: three dialogues held (including one in China, April 2006, and one in Indonesia, March 2007), next is due in March 2008.

Forests and Biodiversity Conservation: five dialogues held (one international and four regional).

Forests and Poverty Reduction: three dialogues held (including a dialogue on pro-poor commercial forestry in Indonesia, March 2007).

The Secretariat for TFD is hosted by Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in the United States.

Impact and effectiveness

Into its fifth year of multi-stakeholder dialogues, TFD's activities have led to a number of positive outcomes including: development of personal relationships that have fostered collaborative actions based on shared understanding and trust; renewed government actions to address illegal logging; an improved model for effective dialogue between civil society and government; and enhanced collaboration among NGOs and the forest industry.

Forest PACT (Forest Partnership for Action and Commitment Today)

(Adapted from the ForestPACT website

The concept of ForestPACT arose from concerns at the global level about the slow pace of progress in implementing sustainable forest management. A need was recognized for generating immediate action “on the ground,” highlighting positive work in forestry, and building a culture of success in the forestry sector. WWF and IUCN convened a meeting of leading international forest practitioners in March 2000 to respond to this need, and the result was the concept of ForestPACT. It aims to generate action and partnerships in the forestry sector by encouraging pledges for action, and recognizing successes. Individuals, groups, or institutions could become partners in ForestPACT by making a pledge to action that would contribute to ForestPACT’s broad objectives of sustainable forest management. ForestPACT partners would form a broad coalition of leaders in sustainable forest management. It was agreed that ForestPACT would be administered at the national level. Thailand was identified as a suitable country to trial implementation, and to date, remains the only country where ForestPACT has been tested, essentially as an externally funded project.

Impact and effectiveness

Only one site was chosen as a pledge area for the first year of developing ForestPACT in Thailand. This was an area where villagers were aiming to strengthen forest management in their community forest, a portion of which was located in a national park. Conflicts existed between villagers and the park authority.

Some successes have been claimed from this trial (Guido Broekhoven, in terms of:

Consultations between IUCN and the Steering Committee members after the first phase of ForestPACT indicated that many members of ForestPACT had different visions of what ForestPACT should be in Thailand. Some of these differed from the concept conceived at the global level. ForestPACT is currently dormant due to a lack of finance to continue the process.

Asia Forest Partnership

(Extracted from the AFP website:

The Asia Forest Partnership (AFP) was announced at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in September 2002 as a type II partnership2. It is a multi-stakeholder collaboration of governments, intergovernmental and civil society groups. It promotes sustainable forest management in Asia through addressing five key issues, including the topic areas of:

and cross cutting issues of:

The partnership acts as a catalyst for existing initiatives by increasing synergies and reducing duplication between programmes. To date, the AFP has provided a formal framework for the exchange of information and experiences. Beyond strengthening existing programmes, it is hoped that the framework will facilitate joint identification of new programmes and research. AFP activities combine national, bilateral or multilateral and regional initiatives.

Partners to the AFP include government and intergovernmental organizations and members of civil society. All partners are equally accountable. Initially, the leading partners (Government of Japan, Government of Indonesia, Center for International Forestry Research - CIFOR, The Nature Conservancy - TNC) undertook to make a stronger commitment to the advancement of the partnership, but did not have more authority or rights than other partners. However, the notion of leading partners has now been abandoned.

The partners meet at least once a year to exchange information, identify further work and consult on on-going activities. CIFOR is currently hosting the AFP information sharing secretariat. The partnership is useful as a forum for exchanging information, but has funds for nothing more than to cover the costs of its meetings.

Impact and effectiveness

Several surveys have been carried out among members of the Partnership in order to assess their perception of its effectiveness and to identify ways of improving its operations (AFP 2007). A recent evaluation (Uitenboogaart 2007) concluded that: “…the AFP adds value at the process level and it offers individual partners benefits, while it does not contribute much to actual problem solving. This leads to the conclusion that an inter-sectoral partnership could result in a feel-good instrument that receives attention with its normative added value at the process level, while the underlying problems remain unresolved.” (p. v)

Forest Governance Learning Groups

(Extracted from

The Forest Governance Learning Groups (FGLG), which commenced in mid-2003, are informal alliances of in-country teams and international partners active in 10 countries across Africa and Asia. The groups attempt to connect those marginalized from forest governance to those controlling it, and to help both do things better. They carry out focused studies, develop tactics and tools, hold learning events, and work to effect change. They exchange learning and develop ideas on forest governance to make it function for practical, just and sustainable forest use. In Asia, groups are operative in India, Indonesia and Viet Nam, and they aim to deliver four main outputs:

  1. Poverty reduction strategies, national forest programmes, decentralization programmes and related processes that better enable improved forest governance.
  2. Illegal and corrupt forestry that degrades livelihoods reduced through the adoption and spread of practical approaches to improve forest governance.
  3. Forestry enterprise initiatives and private sector associations that comply with the law and spread practical approaches to improve forest governance.
  4. Ownership, access rights, policy and management frameworks that are improved to support local control and benefit from forestry.

The main target groups are forest policy decision makers, leaders in forest enterprise and champions of local community rights.

Major impetus has been given to a second phase of the FGLG, with agreement from the EC to support the work from 2005 to 2009. This is in the form of a grant from the EC’s Environment and Forests Budget line.

Impact and effectiveness

IIED steers the groups and produces regular updates (four to date) on the activities of the learning groups and their impact. The April 2007 update notes that there is a growing recognition that tackling injustice in decision-making about trees and forests is now a primary challenge for sustainability in many places. In the future the groups expect to focus in particular on: an international synthesis of key issues on local land tenure and forest resource access; preparing a plan for a film; recording incidents, breakthroughs, setbacks and emerging issues; a second cross-country learning event focused on governance of responsible forest enterprise; international networking; and deepening in-country impact wherever possible.

Rights and Resources Initiative

(Extracted from the RRI website:

The Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) was established in 2005 by Forest Trends, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the Regional Community Forestry Training Center (RECOFTC) in Bangkok, the Central American Association for Indigenous and Agroforestry Communities (ACICAFOC) and the Foundation for People and Community Development (FPCD) in Papua New Guinea. In 2006, the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), Intercooperation (Switzerland), and the Forest Peoples Programme joined as RRI partners. More recently, Civic Response, a national NGO from Ghana, has joined the RRI coalition.

The Initiative is supported by the Ford Foundation, DFID, IDRC, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, SIDA and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), and engages in collaborative work with a range of global and regional institutions. The Board of Directors of the Rights and Resources Group is composed of representatives from the RRI Partners and supporters.

RRI aims to encourage communities, governments, donors and international institutions to combine efforts to advance two global goals:

The Initiative operates a global campaign including meetings, and also conducts a series of country initiatives. In Asia, these are in China and East Asia and the Mekong Region.

Impact and effectiveness
No assessment available.

Forest Law Enforcement and Governance Process

(Extracted from the FLEG website:, content MDK:20636550 and from material published in Arborvitae 2006).

The Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG) process refers to the harnessing of national efforts, and enhancement of international collaboration, to address violations of forest laws and the commission of forest crimes. In particular, the FLEG process aims to eradicate illegal logging and associated illegal trade and corruption. In general, it aims to promote greater protection and sustainable management of the world’s remaining forests.

The FLEG process is a worldwide movement, having emerged in different parts of the world (Asia, Europe, Africa, Russia and North Asia), including East Asia. In East Asia, the FLEG process emerged from a series of multi-stakeholder consultations in 2001 prior to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) Ministerial preparatory meetings in Bali, Indonesia.

The consultations ended with the adoption of a political statement (the Bali Declaration) by participating countries from East Asia, Europe and North America, emphasizing the urgent need for effective cooperation to address forestry problems simultaneously at the national and sub-national (or local), and international levels. Although not legally binding, the Bali Declaration is considered by various stakeholders as a significant step by governments in acknowledging the need to combat corruption in the forestry sector.

The Bali Declaration recognizes the responsibilities of both producing and consuming countries in eliminating illegal logging and associated illegal trade and corruption and it lays the foundation for bilateral and international cooperation on a harmonized set of forest law enforcement and protection programs. The Bali Declaration is supported by an action plan which contains a comprehensive list of 70 indicative actions by East Asia FLEG participating countries to be undertaken by and among themselves at the national and international levels. These commitments range from political, legislative, judicial, administrative, research, policy, institution and capacity building, advocacy, information and expertise sharing/disclosure, conservation and protection, as well as bilateral and multi-lateral actions.

To advance the objectives of the Bali Declaration, the East Asia FLEG Task Force composed of representatives from East Asia FLEG countries was established. Alongside the Task Force, an Advisory Group composed of representatives of civil society, industry, and other stakeholders including NGOs, was formed to provide support and information on forestry issues being tackled by the Task Force. The East Asia FLEG Task Force and Advisory Group conduct periodic meetings to review progress on actions to implement the commitments of participating countries and to assess and determine current priorities/challenges of the forestry sector.

Pollard and Maginnis (2006) argue that incentives are ultimately more effective than penalties in moving towards equitable and effective forest governance arrangements. By way of example, there has been switch from timber import bans, which primarily frame illegal logging as a “consumer's problem,” to soft instruments such as Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) that are being developed under the EU action plan on forest law enforcement, governance and trade (FLEGT). The authors also note that a suite of tools is needed to encourage industry to act responsibly. Among these are credible independent third party forest certification systems, such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and market based initiatives such as the Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN), which brings together responsible companies and communities that want to play by the rules.

Impact and effectiveness

It has been argued (Colchester 2007) that the FLEG initiatives focus too sharply on forestry laws, rather than considering wider laws related to forests, such as land tenure regimes and human rights legislation. Many FLEG policy makers now agree that law enforcement measures need to be complemented with steps to review and revise inappropriate laws to ensure that people’s livelihoods and rights to their lands and forests are secured. Local people and NGOs need to be included in forest monitoring and FLEG discussions, not left out.

It is also suggested (T. Bartlett pers. com.) that the Asian FLEG has lost some momentum in recent years with only limited progress in implementing the actions from the 2001 Bali meeting. Efforts are currently underway to revitalize it and have another Ministerial meeting in early 2008. Problems exist with limited participation from some key countries. Also, in the absence of a global framework for FLEG, there is bound to be overlap and inefficiencies between the various processes, including AFP, for individual exporting countries.

Voluntary guidelines for responsible management of planted forests

(Extracted from Carle (2006) and

In response to member country requests, FAO coordinated a multi-stakeholder process to prepare Voluntary Guidelines for Responsible Management of Planted Forests (formerly known as the Planted Forests Code) to balance social, cultural, environmental and economic dimensions in planted forest development and their contribution towards sustainable livelihoods and land use. The Voluntary Guidelines include guiding principles for policy, legal, regulatory and other enabling conditions, and thus provide a framework for responsible planning, management and monitoring of planted forests.

The draft Voluntary Guidelines were derived through a two year process involving specialists from Governments, the private sector (both corporate and smallholder), non-governmental (social and environmental) and intergovernmental organizations, academics, and other civil society groups that gave of their time and expertise to explore the correct balance. The Voluntary Guidelines were discussed at the Regional Forestry Commissions throughout 2006, as well as at private sector and civil society meetings addressing intensively managed planted forests and sustainable forest management. Based on recommendations and suggestions from these meetings, the Voluntary Guidelines were commended by the Eighteenth Session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO) in March 2007. The Voluntary Guidelines are a non-legally binding instrument tailored primarily to governments and investors (public and private sector), policy makers and planners. The scope includes both the planted forest component of semi-natural forests and plantation forests, as well as the full spectrum of planning, management and monitoring activities for both productive and protective functions. COFO provided a mandate to proceed towards implementation through collaborating partners. A process led by FAO and collaborating partners has been initiated to strengthen institutional capacity to translate the Voluntary Guidelines into effective policies and implementation actions at the field level.

Impact and effectiveness

The draft Voluntary Guidelines have been supported through independent processes including: The Forests Dialogue (Switzerland, 2005; China, 2006; Indonesia, 2007), The World Business Council for Sustainable Development - Sustainable Forest Industries Working Group (Beijing, 2006), the International Council for Forest and Paper Associations (Rome, 2006) and the Advisory Committee for Paper and Wood Products (Australia, 2004, Rome, 2005; Rome, 2006; and China, 2007).

Following COFO, FAO distributed copies to Heads of Forestry, IGOs, international NGOs and other collaborating partners. Requests have been met for several thousand copies (in English, French and Spanish). A methodology has been derived for capacity building workshops and programme/project preparation support to selected regions and countries. Some countries have initiated their own multi-stakeholder processes to derive their own national guidelines for responsible management of planted forests.

Voluntary guidelines for fire management

(Extracted from FAO, 2006)

FAO coordinated a two year multi-stakeholder process through technical and expert consultations and six Regional Forestry Commissions during 2006 to prepare a set of principles and strategic actions as part of a global strategy for international cooperation in fire management. These Voluntary Guidelines set out a non-legally binding framework of guiding principles and internationally accepted strategic actions to address the cultural, social, environmental and economic dimensions for all levels of fire management. Fire management in this context includes the monitoring, early warning, prevention, preparedness, suppression and restoration and the vegetation types include forests, woodlands, shrublands, rangelands, grasslands, agricultural lands and the vegetation types in the rural-urban interface. These Voluntary Guidelines address the social, cultural, environmental, as well as economic dimensions of fire management in integrated approaches in the wider mosaic of land uses in the landscape. Furthermore, they encourage key stakeholder participation in policy dialogue, strategic planning and actions across sectors. Their development followed on from recommendations of the International Wildland Fire Summit, held in Sydney, Australia, in October 2003; the Ministerial Meeting on Sustainable Forest Management, held in March 2005, and the Committee on Forestry Session in March 2005.

The 18th Session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO), held in March 2007, commended FAO for facilitating the multi-stakeholder processes to prepare the Voluntary Guidelines and recommended that FAO work together with Member Countries and partners to strengthen capacity towards their implementation.

Implementation is seen as a voluntary, open, and inclusive process that will benefit people, resources, assets, and the environment.

Impact and effectiveness

During the demanding northern hemisphere fire season in 2007, press releases by FAO and the Director General were issued calling for more holistic approaches to fire management, based upon the principles and strategic actions as detailed in the Voluntary Guidelines.

A Fire Management Actions Alliance was launched at the 4th International Wildland Fire Conference at Seville, Spain in May 2007 with 40 founding members. Members are encouraged to implement the Voluntary Guidelines, share information, knowledge and activities and to enhance international cooperation in fire management. The Alliance has a dedicated website on behalf of members on FAO welcomes new members to apply to join the Fire Management Actions Alliance. The charter and application procedures to join the Alliance are available on

Following COFO, FAO distributed copies of the Voluntary Guidelines to Heads of Forestry, IGOs, international NGOs and other collaborating partners. Requests have been met for several thousand copies in English, French and Spanish. Translations into Russian, Bahasa and Korean have been country lead.

A methodology has been derived for capacity building workshops and programme/project preparation support to selected regions and countries. Two capacity building workshops in 2007 are in advanced stages of planning with other region and sub-region requests pending.

Initiatives with a national or sub-national origin

The initiatives described in this section are listed alphabetically by the country where they originated. Many of these were stimulated (and sometimes funded) by national governments, in which cases there tends to be a strong sense of ownership of both the processes and the outcomes.


Regional Forest Agreements

(Adapted from Gilmour, 1998 and extracts from the RFA website

The starting point for the Regional Forest Agreement framework is the National Forest Policy Statement, which was negotiated in the early 1990s and signed by the Federal Prime Minister and the State Premiers in 1992. A part of this Policy is the requirement for a process whereby the State Governments can invite the Commonwealth Government3 to participate in undertaking Comprehensive Regional Assessments (CRA) of environmental and heritage aspects of forests. These assessments provide the basis for enabling the Commonwealth and States to reach a single agreement relating to their obligations for forests in a bioregion – (the Regional Forest Agreements – RFAs). Commonwealth obligations include assessment of national estate values, World Heritage values, Aboriginal heritage values, environmental impact and obligations relating to international conventions including those for protecting endangered species and biological diversity. The Regional Forest Agreements that come out of the Assessments cover guidelines for ecologically sustainable management of the regional forests, particularly those under public ownership. Thus, the final outcome should be an adequate, representative reserve system and sustainable management of forests outside the reserves. This is in the context of previous commitments by the Commonwealth Government that 15% of major forest types present in pre-European Australia will be reserved.

The timber industry felt under considerable threat during the previous decade, as more and more land was taken from the productive forest estate and added to conservation reserves of various types. It was hoped that a successful outcome of the CFA/RFA processes would provide both better conservation outcomes and long term planning certainty for the timber industry.

The Commonwealth Government had five principal objectives for embarking on the development of regional forest agreements. These were to:

Impact and effectiveness

The RFAs cover regions where commercial timber production is a major native forest use. They do not cover the extensive areas of largely non commercial forests and woodlands, particularly in Queensland, many of which are held as leasehold land for grazing. Ten RFAs are now in place in four Australian states. A Comprehensive Regional Assessment was completed for S.E. Queensland, but because of unresolved conflict between the Commonwealth and State Government, a RFA was not signed for this region.

The following benefits are claimed for the RFA process:

In spite of the very considerable achievement of the RFA process, there were problems. Gilmour (1998) concluded that among the problems encountered in the process were:

One of the real challenges in the process was the effective incorporation of stakeholder interests. This is essential for any durable outcome, but it is the area which caused the most problems. An elegant technical outcome is of no value if there is no broadly-based stakeholder support.


Forest Dialogue Forum of China

The State Forestry Administration of China established the Forest Dialogue Forum in March 2005, to support multi-stakeholder dialogue to improve China’s national forest policies and to enhance cooperation among government organizations, NGOs, international organizations, internal institutes, private sector entities and donor agencies from other countries. The first meeting took place in August 2005, and follow-up meetings have taken place every six months. A different agenda is set for each meeting, with the objectives of the first meeting being to:

(P. Durst pers. com.)

Impact and effectiveness
No evaluation has yet been carried out, but the following observations made by P. Durst (pers. com.) give an indication of the process.

Participants noted that the Forum is characterized by the open nature of the discussions and international participants have appreciated the chance to brief senior Government officials on their activities. It is a large event and more than 100 people participated in the third forum, including representatives from national forestry agencies and institutions, research academies, universities, local and provincial governments, NGOs, projects, and international organizations. Less positively, the large number of presentations generally preclude the opportunity for serious discussions during the formal program. There is also little substantive progress in identifying priorities for future work, although many possible areas for work and collaboration emerged from presentations. Several participants observed that greater participation by the private sector would enhance the proceedings.


Multi-stakeholder Forestry Programme (MFP)

(Extracted from; and Fahmi 2003)

The Multi-stakeholder Forestry Programme (MFP) was a six-year forest governance reform programme in Indonesia (2001-2006), funded by DIFID. It provided a comprehensive programme of support to civil society and government organizations, through small grants for community development, training, advocacy, networking, multi-stakeholder dialogue, policy research, grant making and communications work. The MFP has influenced many local forest policy processes and is making a real impact on the lives of forest-based communities, who make up over 10 million of the 38 million poorest people in Indonesia.

It provides small flexible grants within a clear framework for governance reforms and a strong role for civil society. Analysis of drivers of change helps build greater understanding of the power, influence and incentives of different stakeholders operating in a contested policy environment. MFP supports a range of change agents in the local political economy, including local leaders, community based organizations and NGOs, the media, policy analysts and activists, government officials and legislators, private businesses and others. They fulfill a variety of roles, mobilizing citizens, empowering communities, building accountability and transparency, mediating conflicts and multi-stakeholder dialogue, conducting policy analysis and advocacy, and making policies and laws.

The MFP is also developing innovative ideas for local trust funds, practical alternative sourcing of civil society funding, and community foundations which provide both grants and support services to strengthen local organizations and voice. The development of these approaches has involved other donors and other NGO and local business partners, and now includes increasing levels of local government co-financing of community empowerment initiatives.

The MFP has helped provide a bridge between civil society and government, facilitating more effective participation by poor marginalized people in local government planning and policy making. This has resulted in numerous pro-poor local government regulations and policy task forces, and changes in attitudes and skills amongst government officials and local community leaders.

Impact and effectiveness
It is claimed that the MFP is now showing real impacts on the ground, with constructive multi-stakeholder dialogue between poor, marginalized communities and local governments leading to reduced conflicts, greater empowerment and “voice”, and evidence of improved incomes through changes in policy.

The strongest poverty impacts are starting to result from policy changes that provide more secure access to forest land, better access to markets, tighter controls on illegal logging and greater transparency on international finance and money laundering. These are policies that affect rural livelihoods, vulnerability and exclusion, as well as national economic growth. They reflect a strong focus on more effective democracy and decentralization, and more equitable and productive forest management.

An assessment was carried out of the effectiveness of the MFP by Fahmi et al. (2003). It found that, overall, the initiative seemed to fulfill its immediate objectives, reaching an agreement on conflict resolution and a joint action plan between community and government concerning economic development, land conflict and ecosystem functions.

However, this successful outcome was challenged by 300 poor urban families following a post-agreement land reclamation carried out in the forest areas, bringing to light some of the weaknesses of the MSP. The main weaknesses were identified as:


Community forestry and multi-stakeholder processes (Middle Hills)

Community forestry frequently involves only two major stakeholders, the community4 and the government (generally in the form of forest department officials). However, the way in which community forestry has evolved in some areas of Nepal’s Middle Hills has changed considerably during the past decade, and it is worthy of mention because it is a good example of how, with the engagement of multiple stakeholders, particularly civil society, the outcomes can be greatly improved.

By the late 1980s, the modalities for implementing community forestry in Nepal’s Middle Hills had been defined and the programme attained a national status. In the early 1990s, the programme expanded rapidly with the major stakeholders to the discussion and negotiation being government forest officers and the villagers who constituted Forest User Groups (FUGs), the local groups officially recognized and mandated to manage defined forest areas. Following the revolution and the restoration of democracy in 1990, NGOs proliferated as civil society organized and demanded a much expanded role in all aspects of public life. This included a voice in the way that community forestry policy was decided and the way that community forestry was implemented. NGOs representing a range of views and interests are now involved in advocacy at all levels, as well as research and implementation. The government can no longer articulate a policy or a change to field practice without being held to account by civil society. As a result, fora such as the Forest Sector Coordination Committee (at the national level) and District Forest Coordination Committees (at the district level) are becoming much more multi-stakeholder in nature. There are also many examples at the local level (i.e., within the Forest User Groups) where multiple stakeholders such as grass roots NGOs have become involved. This has often resulted in the broadening of implementation arrangements beyond simple forest issues, whereby wider development and equity issues are addressed.

Impact and effectiveness
There are several examples during the past decade where central-level decisions which would have adversely affected community forest users have been withdrawn or modified in the face of trenchant criticism by stakeholder groups, and the government has been forced to enter into a dialogue with these groups to negotiate more socially acceptable outcomes. At the local level there are many examples of FUGs engaging with multiple stakeholders, particularly NGOs, to broaden their development agenda.

District level multi-stakeholder processes (Terai)

Community forestry has been a very successful policy in the hills of Nepal, but it has been a difficult policy to implement in the Terai, the lowlands adjacent to India. A major reason for the difficulties is that the Terai forests tend to be commercially valuable and there are many stakeholders (apart from local communities) with a vested interest in controlling the forests. One approach to this dilemma has been trial multi-stakeholder processes centered around the establishment of District Forest Coordination Committees (DFCCs), which are established to plan for the use of forests in the district. The stakeholders include Forest Department officials, local and district government officials, NGOs, forest users and industry groups.

Impact and effectiveness
District Forest Coordination Committees have been established in eight Terai districts since 2003, but it is too early to judge their effectiveness.


Alliances of local government units

Adapted from Walpole (2007).

The national agency with the responsibility for managing natural resources in the Philippines (Department of Environment and Natural Resources-DENR) tends not to engage effectively beyond national economic designs of resource exploitation5. In particular, it struggles to sustain participation, transparency and accountability with communities. However, the decentralization process in the Philippines is having a major impact in expanding the role of local government units (LGU) in managing natural resources.

In the contemporary decentralized environment, local government units have the opportunity to set their own agendas for natural resource management. However, decentralization has its limitations in terms of roles and responsibilities being transferred without a corresponding transfer of decision making and budgets to accomplish the work. It is especially difficult for small municipalities to mobilize the necessary human and financial resources for effective management. A potentially more effective process is emerging in the form of alliance development that has a sense of community, accountability and responsibility.

In the past five years there has been a trend towards shared management activities by LGUs, particularly for the management of natural resources. Groups that share common natural resources have come together to jointly manage these resources. For small municipal governments, this strategy makes good sense for not only does it address the need for collaboration in managing resources that often overlap administrative boundaries, but it also addresses the issue of limited capacity. By working together, LGUs can pool their financial, technical and human resources to manage the environment more effectively. Collaboration might begin with a coastal or upland focus, but this generally spreads. Of particular importance is that communities are seen as critical stakeholders in identifying concerns and determining appropriate action.

The alliances operate by drawing on the ideas and experiences of people and institutions with various interests and intentions. Decisions are reached only after going through a process of negotiation (bargaining and compromising) and eventually reaching an agreement acceptable to everyone.

Collaboration among local governments is still at an early stage. While there are many LGUs already working in this way, these alliances of LGUs still face many concerns about how to carry out their roles as custodians of the natural resources most effectively. Part of the reality is that while the LGUs have been given more management responsibilities, much decision making power (especially over forest lands) still remains with the DENR.

Impact and effectiveness
An assessment was carried out of eight of the alliances and the main findings were that:

It is too early to say whether these alliances will be able to generate real changes. Their greatest successes to date are in coastal areas where marine sanctuaries identified and supported by local communities, and reinforced by the alliance, are claimed to be improving livelihoods and contributing to a return of biodiversity. Alliances do reflect a social growth in local government and governance in response to desired change. This reflects a situation of policy by demand rather than supply. Such efforts could possibly turn the tide on forest cover loss in mangrove/fish nurseries and agro-forestry areas responding to the socio-cultural needs of greater security. What can be said at the moment is that community awareness and participation has created a sense of improved governance and human security in some areas.

Protected Area Management Boards

Adapted from information provided by P. Durst (pers. com.) and N. Molinyawe (pers. com.)

Protected Area Management Boards (PAMBs) are multi-stakeholder policy making bodies that decide on matters related to planning and resource protection of protected areas in the Philippines. The mandate to establish the Boards comes from the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992, which provided for a major shift in protected area management from the centralized management by the DENR to decentralized participatory approaches through PAMBs. The Boards are supervised by the Protected Area Office through the Protected Area Superintendent that serves as the secretariat. They are chaired by DENR Regional Directors (or their nominees) with representation from local government units, NGOs, people's organizations, indigenous peoples through their Council of Elders and national government agencies. Board members are appointed by the DENR Secretary for five year periods and the majority of them are elected officials. Membership of Boards varies from 10 to more than 100 members, depending on the size of the protected area.

As of August 2007, PAMBs had been created for 168 of the 237 protected areas established under the system. The Boards provide fora that bring together a wide range of key stakeholders to make decisions related to the management of protected areas. The intention is that decisions will be made in a transparent and accountable manner based on a majority vote. The decisions are formulated as resolutions or ordinances that guide implementation.

Impact and effectiveness
According to a 2003 assessment by the World Bank (World Bank 2003), PAMBs are emerging as useful models for natural resource management governance across the wider landscape. In situations where PAMBs are adequately funded and all key stakeholders are actively involved, they represent the best hope for providing direction and guidance in instituting effective governance for the Philippines’ protected areas (USAID-Philippines 2004). However, many PAMBs have not yet achieved a truly multi-stakeholder identify. Most are still perceived at local levels as an extension of DENR rather than as a joint initiative of local stakeholders. Nonetheless, data collected from protected areas financed by the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility indicate that the establishment of PAMBs as a participatory management tool has resulted in substantial increase in the discussion of natural resource management issues, and this corresponded with an increase in actions and initiatives undertaken on the ground (USAID-Philippines 2004). Among the challenges to be faced is the large membership of some of the Boards which leads to unwieldy and bureaucratic decision making processes.

Viet Nam

Forest Sector Support Partnership

Adapted from

The Viet Nam Government and partners have been working together in the forestry sector under various partnership arrangements since 1999, and these have evolved through three distinct phases.

5 Million Hectare Reforestation Project (5MHRP) Partnership. At a Consultative Group meeting in Paris in December 1998, the Government called on the donor community to work with it to establish a Partnership Support Program for support of the 5 Million Hectare Reforestation Project. In 1999, the Government and 15 international partners signed a Memorandum of Agreement to provide this support. During 1999-2000, it mobilized three joint national-international task forces that studied: the 5MHRP; forest strategy, policy, and institutional issues; and financial investment requirements for the sector. Meanwhile, the ADB undertook a major forest policy study. These four reports were then combined in early 2001 into a “Joint Sector Review”.

Forest Sector Support Program and Partnership (FSSP&P). General agreement was reached in March 2001, on the need to broaden the partnership – not only to support the 5MHRP, but the entire forest sector. The FSSP&P Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed in November 2001 between the Viet Nam Government and 19 international partners (now having 25 international signatories), to cover a ten-year period (2001-2010). These international partners include not only multilateral and bilateral donors, but also multilateral organizations and a growing number of international non-governmental organizations. The MOA included 15 major principles of cooperation, as well as a FSSP Program Framework, with nine key results areas, highlighting key areas for sector intervention.

The partners agreed to support three main objectives, which emphasized collaboration and support of government policies and strategies:

In mid-2004, four bilateral donors agreed to establish a multi-donor Trust Fund for Forests (TFF), and a fifth bilateral donor agreed to provide technical advisors for the TFF. To date, these donors have committed almost 30 million Euros, which has been used to support key sector activities, co-finance two major projects, and provide large and small grants for a number of other activities. Discussions are currently ongoing to replenish the fund for the period 2008-2010.

Forest Sector Support Partnership (FSSP). In 2006, following the second major evaluation of the FSSP&P, it was decided to reform the Partnership’s institutional structure. In November 2006, new Terms of Reference were agreed upon, and the Partnership was renamed the Forest Sector Support Partnership. A major change in the Partnership was to open it up to all interested stakeholders. These stakeholders include local and provincial representatives, as well as both domestic and foreign private sector entrepreneurs and investors. Thus, the Partnership is evolving to incorporate ideas of public-private partnership. The first big stakeholder meeting, the Forestry Partnership Forum, was held in May 2007, with 160 participants. It was followed by the Forestry Investment Forum, which attracted 150 participants.

The revised Terms of Reference for the Partnership specify that the Forestry (FSSP) Partnership aims to create: an effective Partnership among national and international forest sector stakeholders that contributes to increased dialogue and collaboration on important forest sector issues, and an improved policy framework for the sector, focusing on implementation of the Vietnam National Forestry Development Strategy (VFDS, 2006-2020).

The main tasks of the Partnership are to:


After five years of implementation, a joint evaluation mission recognized that the Forestry Partnership had succeeded in supporting the development of sector policy and strategy and the enhancement of policy dialogue. The Partnership is also recognized for its achievements in information sharing and communication among stakeholders. The Partnership produces thematic newsletters and has a bilingual website (, both of which are well regarded as mechanisms for providing important sector information to both national and international partners.

2 Type II partnerships are voluntary multi-stakeholder initiatives contributing to implementation of inter-governmental sustainable development commitments in Agenda 21.

3 In Australia, the six State Governments have control over land resources, including forests. However, the Commonwealth, through its foreign affairs powers, is the signatory to international conventions, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and CITES. This creates an obvious tension between the States and the Commonwealth, as the latter government at times tries (often successfully) to impose its will on the States through financial leverage and negotiation. For example, the Commonwealth Government has to approve wood chip export licenses and can withhold license approval until the states conform with Commonwealth interests.

4 It is important to note that, while local communities are portrayed here as one stakeholder group, in reality they are invariably heterogeneous rather than homogeneous, and contain many different interest groups, such as rich and poor, men and women, graziers, farmers, blacksmiths, etc., all of whom might have different interests in forest management. Development of community forestry agreements requires this multiplicity of interests to be considered and for social agreement to be reached.

5 There are a few exceptions to this general situation where individual projects such as the development of the Ulot Watershed Model Forest have facilitated the development of functional relationships with DENR down to the community level (P. Durst pers. com.).

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