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The implementation of specific programmes, activities and projects is the responsibility of the national implementing actors with the support of external aid agencies when necessary.


Implementation Arrangements

As a rule the overall coordination of the national forest programme implementation should be absorbed by the existing institutional framework thus avoiding any division between the national forest programme and on-going activities in forestry and related fields. Special structures and mechanisms should be avoided as far as possible. The national structures involved in the planning phases will usually remain the same for the national forest programme implementation but their composition and mandate may need to be adjusted.


The implementation of the national forest programme requires strong leadership and coordination. Communication is essential among partners and timely information must be made available to all those involved.

Coordination of national and, where applicable, international actors is the responsibility of the National Lead Institution at the policy level and, of the National Coordination Unit at the operational level.The Coordination Units appointed for the implementation and planification phases can be different, depending upon best opportunities and efficiency.

At policy and institutional levels the coordination focuses on facilitating:

  • the understanding and implementation of reforms within government institutions;
  • dialogue between all partners and the government to create conditions that favour the adoption of reforms.

At an operational level coordination is mainly concerned with improving efficiency of actions through:

  • information exchange;
  • facilitating administrative procedures as much as possible;
  • ensuring the financing of critical activities, directing resources to priority areas and avoiding overlapping activities.

Small steps can be taken to improve operational coordination through better information management and dissemination, including:

  • improving information services through the development of data-bases on the projects;
  • regular partner coordination meetings;
  • establishing an information centre in the National Coordinating Unit containing cartographic documentation and other information on national forest programme of activities;
  • the publication of a periodic newsletter or bulletin covering planned and on-going activities;
  • establishing technical coordination groups under the National Coordinating Unit which could be supported through a relevant capacity building programme. The groups could organize periodic meetings to ensure that the relevant technical information is transferred from one programme to another.

In most countries, the National forest programme will be implemented through sub-national structures and actors. At these levels, action plans and programmes will often have to be prepared and coordinating bodies established.


Monitoring the implementation of the national forest programme is one of the main responsibilities of the National Coordinating Unit. Here, only the overall monitoring of national forest programme implementation is relevant and not specific projects or activities as these are the responsibility of the implementing agencies, organisations and actors.

Four main elements must be considered when monitoring the national forest programme implementation: the process, the inputs, the outputs and the impact.

Monitoring the process concerns:

  • the implementation arrangements (National Consultative Forum on Forests, National Lead Institution, National Coordinating Unit and other partners), their membership, specific activities, performance, decisions and follow-up;
  • the communications/information;
  • the level of public sector involvement and support, the political commitment and participation of NGOs, private sector,and forest dependent people;
  • the coordination with other strategic approaches.
  • Monitoring the inputs, i.e. the human, financial and material resources. This assessment of the quantity, quality and timeliness of resources provided will be achieved through a comparison between planned and actually delivered inputs, and of expenditures against budgets. The flow and use of inputs will also be considered.
  • Monitoring the outputs, i.e., the achievements resulting from the use of the resources. Quality, quantity and timeliness of achievements will be assessed, as well as the efficiency with which the resources are being used to produce outputs or attain results.
  • Monitoring the impact, i.e. the progress made towards the achievement of goals and objectives is also essential. This will include assessing achievements of the national forest programme''s key physical targets and changes in the forest resource development situation. The effectiveness with which the results or outputs have produced impacts will also be monitored.

An annual review of the national forest programme implementation should be carried out. Areas of action which have not received sufficient attention should be taken into account. This review should focus on the performance of the various partners in the Programme implementation, including government agencies, NGOs, the private sector and donor agencies when appropriated. Information on lessons learned should be disseminated to participants to enable them to improve their performance.

An effective Management Information System will be required for monitoring and evaluation. This Management Information System may include the following elements:

  • a resource assessment facility;
  • statistical service of the sector;
  • an information system for the evaluation of forest administration performance;
  • a system of monitoring and evaluation of programmes and projects.

These various elements may already be in place but in many cases will have to be strengthened.

Building up an effective and comprehensive Management Information System is a major undertaking involving the establishment and continuous updating of multiple data-bases. This time-consuming process often requires significant funding and the less rich countries will need support from external aid. In spite of the difficulties involved in putting in place an adequate system, this activity should be given high-priority. The recurrent costs of such systems must be carefully studied before they are put in place to ensure sustainability.


Good communication is essential to a successful national forest programme implementation. The National Coordinating Unit must ensure that:

  • communication systems are in place that do not marginalize certain stakeholders but are accessible to all and facilitate the flow and understanding of information in all directions;
  • comprehensive information is easily available to the parties concerned (all partners participating or interested in National forest programme implementation must be kept informed regularly on progress);
  • adequate consultative mechanisms among partners are in place;
  • opportunities exist for international exchange of information on implementation experiences.

Regular progress reports should be prepared by the National Coordinating Unit for dissemination to all partners involved. These should provide information on achievements, problems encountered and lessons learned. Making relevant information available ensures transparency and consequently promotes commitment of the interested participants.

The information must be presented to partners, management and decision-makers in a timely fashion (i.e., when corrective action is still possible).


A Capacity Building Programme is initiated during the planning phase in countries where it is required. Normally, it would be evaluated, revised and continued during the Programme implementation

This programme defines the actions which should be taken to systematically develop the sectoral planning and implementation capacity of national institutions and other key actors.

The Capacity Building Programme should be based on a new definition of the roles and mandates of public sector institutions, the private sector, people's associations and NGOs. Priority areas of action should be identified for capacity building and the overall framework for providing assistance established. This framework could include:

  • core long-term institutional strengthening programmes for,
  • the national administration responsible for forestry and natural resources,
  • research and development on forestry and forest products,
  • forestry education and training,
  • information and extension.
  • capacity building within Decentralized Programmes to strengthen local level institutions, local NGOs, private enterprises and grassroots organisations in their respective roles and functions. This type of capacity building would be based on the agreed principles of programme implementation and carried out as an integrated part of all programmes defined geographically (e.g., by state, province or district etc.).

These activities would focus mainly on capacity development related to the institutions' newly defined role and could also include more traditional capacity building activities (e.g., human resources development) as needed.

Improving the Accountability and Efficiency of Public Sector Institutions

In addition to traditional capacity building (e.g., training, education, research, development of management systems), the activities should focus on three key issues:

  • establishing the conditions which enable public sector institutions to achieve and maintain high ethical standards and attract competent individuals (e.g., financial autonomy of forestry institutions, retention of a percentage of stumpage fees and royalties for salary supplements and other staff incentives in forestry sector institutions);
  • developing adequate skills and administrative procedures for managing and supervising the National forest programme implementation by the private sector, local communities and NGOs, at national and local levels. These skills would include administering national and local development funds, conducting competitive bidding, assessing economic and natural resources, monitoring and evaluating the results of implementation by local communities, NGOs and private companies;
  • developing information systems (e.g., land-use, forest resource and biodiversity inventories, monitoring of forest product consumption and trade, monitoring of timber harvesting and revenue collection) to form the basis for assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of the policies and policy instruments proposed in the National forest programme.

In countries where external aid is necessary, the traditional technical assistance approach may still prove cost effective in public sector capacity building especially if combined with national forestry development funds (e.g., for research and education) supported by several donors, and twinning arrangements with similar institutions in the developed countries. Twinning arrangements may in fact be more feasible today than some years ago, as policies in the developing countries are getting closer to those of the developed countries and many of the problems and challenges of the sector are increasingly similar (e.g., market demands for sustainability of forest management, incorporating biodiversity into forest management planning, or increasing use of private contractors). By developing long-term relationships between institutions in the donor and developing countries, long and short-term assistance could be provided based on a mutual understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each of the partners.

Broadening the Concept of Capacity Building

Capacity building for the private sector, NGOs and community-based organisations, whose role is increasing in the implementation of development activities, would result in an improved technical capacity and mechanisms for participation and empowerment. The necessary actions would include:

  • providing access to training and education opportunities (e.g., through scholarship funds, specific training courses and the dissemination of technical information);
  • assistance in financial and information management (e.g., accounting, data-banks and newsletters);
  • assistance in the establishment and consolidation of interest groups and associations (e.g., through training, information exchange with similar groups in other countries, assistance in initial establishment and operational costs);
  • assistance in setting up mechanisms to resolve conflicts of interest at local and national levels (e.g., local committees, National Consultative Forum).

Most of the local administration, private sector and NGO capacity building would be best tackled by decentralised programmes, based on local administrative units. A key element in this type of capacity building would be improving self-financing (e.g., through improved revenue collection at local level and the establishment of national and local funds) to reduce long-term institutional dependence on external assistance.


Based on the results obtained during the strategic planning, a policy and institutional reform programme may be established to adjust policies and laws which have been identified as critical to sectoral development. Also, the roles, mandates, rights and responsibilities of the various institutions, organisations and other stakeholders may have to be redefined and adjusted.

It may require the drafting of new policies, policy incentives, laws, rules and regulations to be approved by legislators, the cabinet or the responsible ministry.

The process of analyzing and reaching an agreement on policy reforms is usually delicate and lengthy. Extensive consultations and negotiations with all partners concerned must be conducted. Also, information campaigns should be launched so that people fully understand the new policy, legal and institutional framework being put in place, as well as their rights and responsibilities.

A National forest programme exercise may lead to a reorganization of government structures and roles. A fundamental reform of functions, training, career plans, payment, incentives and relations within and outside the government may have to be instituted. The proposals must be converted into a detailed description of the future structure, including organizational charts, job descriptions, responsibilities and lines of command, as well as budgetary implications. In some countries, legislative changes may be required to amend administrative structures.

National forest programme often includes proposals for changes in rules and regulations concerning resource allocation, forest management, utilization, conservation, incentives, royalties or stumpage levels, taxes and other fees, product standards and grading rules, etc. If such proposals are not detailed enough in the plan, preparatory work will need to be carried out through analysis and studies before decisions can be taken.

The difficulty encountered in many countries, is more the inconsistency in or lack of implementation than the inexistence of good policies. Therefore, the enforcement of legislation and application of policy guidelines through appropriate means is a key element in putting the National forest programme into action.

In countries where external aid is necessary, launching the policy reform process can be supported by such aid, but it must be fully lead by the country concerned even when adopting new policies and legislation becomes a condition for obtaining support (either as loans or as gifts) for investment in the sector.


Project Formulation and Appraisal for State organs Implemented Investment Programmes (centralized or decentralized)

In numerous countries, investment projects presented in many national forestry plans and programmes have focused on state investments in productive activities and infrastructure (e.g., forest plantations, buildings, roads, primary industry) and institutional strengthening (e.g., forestry education and training, research, forestry extension). Well known approaches exist for programming state investments in productive activities and infrastructures. State investments in institutional strengthening have been discussed in the context of the Capacity Building Programme.

Some principles to be remembered include:

  • the relevant national agencies should initiate preparatory work for projects with the full participation of target beneficiaries. The National Coordinating Unit should be kept fully informed. It will also ensure the follow-up and timely communication among all interested partners;
  • state organisations should always strive to minimise costs. In many cases, utilising providers of service is a means of keeping the ratio cost/efficiency low, on condition that competition is always fully maintained;
  • once external aid has been sought, work on project formulation should start as early as possible since project formulation and appraisals by donors are usually a lengthy process.

Multilateral and bilateral development agencies have their own requirements for project formulation and appraisal. The National Coordinating Unit and other partners involved in project formulation should be aware of the specific requirements of the aid agencies to which the project will be presented.

Project Formulation and Appraisal for Non-State Implemented Investment Programme (whether the funds are of non-State or State origin)


To be more effective the national forest programme should specifically focus on improving conditions for investment of human and/or financial resources, private enterprise, local community and individual household levels and of NGOs. This could be done by removing constraints and disincentives through the policy process and by introducing appropriate incentives through a decentralised investment programme. The incentive system should reflect the different time perspectives of the individual and the society and the value which is given by the society to the different benefits of forests and not only the commercial benefits.

The incentives could include direct incentives (e.g. subsidized credits, grants, in-kind contributions, production contracts) and indirect incentives (e.g.; extension, technical assistance, training, security of land tenure, infrastructure), directed to individual households, private enterprises, communities and other non-governmental decision-making units, in order to have an impact on actions related to land and forest use. Financial incentives combined with regulatory measures could, in many cases, be the most cost-effective way of promoting forest management, plantations, conservation, industrial development and other activities of the private sector, NGOs and community-based organizations. The National forest programme strategies should fully explore these alternatives before embarking on the design of traditional programmes and projects.

Delivery Arrangements:

Incentives can be delivered either through national or local arrangements, or a combination of these, depending on what is feasible in a particular country. To be efficient and effective, these systems must be simple on an administrative level, facilitate coordination of the financial and technical inputs from various sources and ensure that the structure itself does not absorb a disproportionate share of the funds.

A National forest programme investment plan based on financial incentives delivered through a national system (e.g., a national reforestation fund) requires a relatively high institutional capacity for processing applications, coordinating activities and monitoring the effectiveness and efficiency of the system. It also needs to be accompanied by the provision of technical assistance, training and basic technical inputs, either by the private sector or by the forestry authorities. If the national banking system is used as the channel for funding forestry related activities, there may be stringent requirements concerning land titles and other collateral, which, in many countries, easily leads to the exclusion of the small farmers and communities or poorer households and those without land titles, from that system. A combination of banks and other rural financing mechanisms (rural credit systems, NGOs, etc.) could be even more effective.

In many countries better results may be achieved by local delivery systems (e.g., district or provincial) where the role of the central authorities is restricted to facilitation, establishment of norms and guidelines and monitoring of the impact.

Decentralised planning and programming

Decentralised planning and programming is proposed as the principal approach for promoting forestry development at local level. The key features are:

  • use of clearly defined existing administrative units (e.g. districts, provinces or regions of a country) as the basis for the programme design.
  • use of participatory rural appraisal, decentralized participatory planning and various other bottom-up planning tools
  • to define local problems, priorities and opportunities as experienced by the local people themselves and
  • identify about existing local solutions and technologies.

The decentralized planning results are used for

  • defining and introducing specific incentive packages,
  • defining the roles and functions of public and private institutions and organizations in the delivery system based on overall policy guidelines and their respective capacities, and
  • defining capacity building needs at local level (region, province, district, producers' association, community).

The results would also constitute an important input to the national policy process in providing feed-back on policy constraints and other disincentives to sustainable management and conservation of forest resources.

Use of inter-sectoral need-based interventions and flexible provision of the incentives based on actual demand. This implies that inter-sectoral cooperation and coordination are promoted at local level, e.g., through unified or joint extension in all natural resources management related matters (soil conservation, forestry, agriculture, animal husbandry, etc.).

Designing programmes as demand-driven processes which recognize that local priorities and constraints change. Emphasis should be put on participatory monitoring of the results of actions taken and on making use of, or setting up, local representative structures to discuss and agree on objectives, strategies and actions.

Finding simple and innovative approaches for delivering financial incentives or in-kind inputs (e.g., through community-based organizations, producers associations, NGOs, foundations, local banks) to individual producers, and designing self-financing structures (e.g., revolving funds) at local level (e.g., agricultural or forestry producersí associations). Financial incentives could be provided through a national structure, when feasible.

Building up the capacity of local institutions systematically to facilitate, monitor and supervise local implementation of activities and to effectively involve (e.g., through locally conducted competitive bidding) local NGOs, community-based organizations and the private sector in providing technical assistance, extension, research and infrastructure improvement as part of the incentive package. Capacity building at local level should also be extended to the NGOs, community-based organizations and private companies.

Funding Structure:

A key requirement for the success of the National forest programme implementation is that the overall programme implementation, funding structure and administrative units be clearly outlined. When donor assistance has been requested, this also has to be programmed accordingly.

Securing Financing

The necessary funds for the National forest programme implementation may come from various national and international sources:

  • the public sector, e.g., central and local government;
  • the private sector, including the business community, community-based organizations and local NGOs;
  • external sources, e.g., donor agencies, development banks, private enterprises and foreign NGOs.

One of the critical factors in the National forest programme implementation is how the input requirements from the public sector can be included in budgeting. This involves the ministries which should carry out specific National forest programmes and projects, as well as local government authorities on different administrative levels. The National Lead Institution and National Coordinating Unit with the National Planning Agency and the Ministry of Finance should play key coordinating roles by providing necessary instructions to the agencies involved.

Re-allocation of funds between sectors and activities is often necessary in the National Forestry Programme to respond to changing priorities. To facilitate such revisions, sometimes difficult to implement, the National Lead Institution and National Coordinating Unit could carry out preparatory consultations with each party before the budgeting process starts.

In developing countries, external development assistance (technical and/or financial) is often required for all or parts of the National forest programme implementation. This assistance often has a catalytic role in bringing about the resources necessary for the Programme implementation.

But the implementation of the National forest programme should not rely entirely on outside assistance. International resources to support the National forest programme implementation can be secured through direct contacts with multilateral and bilateral development agencies, international NGOs and private sector . Donor round tables can be organized specifically for the National forest programmes , or it can be presented when international assistance to other sectors of the country is discussed in broader terms.

Activities identified in the National forest programme can also be financed by one or the other of the international funding mechanisms such as the World Bank Global Environmental Facility, the UNDP Country Capacity Building Programme, the ITTO special fund for projects, or/and funds to be released through the Convention on Climate Change, international and regional banks' investment programmes.

Furthermore, various types of National Environmental Funds could be used for financing forest management and conservation and could offer a flexible and cost-effective mechanism to combine national and donor funding for the National forest programme implementation, including locally contracted technical assistance, in addition to more traditional donor support. Such funds could be set up either at national or sub-national levels, or both. The funds could sustain themselves through productive investments of the accumulated capital or by providing part of the financial incentives as credits. In addition to forest development and conservation, specific funds could be set up to support forestry education and research (e.g., as a percentage of all projects, programmes and/or forest development and conservation funds to provide core financing for forest education and research institutions).

External aid has to be secured as well as local funding. Whatever the commitments from the richer countries of the international community towards the poorer countries, these must be secured at national level through partnership agreements covering sufficiently long periods: five to ten years. These agreements should always fully reflect the strategy and priorities adopted within the framework of the countryís National forest programme. When many donor countries are involved in the support of a country, Country Partnership Agreements should be collective, rather than individual. The group of donor countries should all commit themselves together, harmoniously to support the implementation of the Action Plan formulated for the National forest programme. This form of Country Partnership Agreement appears to be the most efficient form of securing external aid and reassuring donors that such aid is efficient.

In countries where external aid is significant, the proposed National forest programme implementation strategy (see para. 4.4.2) would usually require significant adjustments to the way development assistance is delivered to field level activities. Where the conditions exist, donors and financing institutions should participate in the financing of forestry development funds which combine financing from various national and international sources, either at central or local levels. Centrally managed forestry development funds could support, for example forest conservation, forestry education and research and forest industries development. In some cases also reforestation and forest management activities could also be supported by these central funds.

The emphasis, however, should be on decentralised funding structures. The main implications of this approach for donors and financing agencies would be:

  • the use of local administrative units (e.g. regions, provinces or districts) as a basis for designing donor supported programmes,
  • flexible programme design where individual programme components (extension and training, funds for local development, contracting, institutional strengthening, etc.) are added and removed, based on actual demand and various structures,
  • long-term commitments to support the selected administrative units,
  • increasing reliance on local resources, both human and material, in programme implementation, and
  • the use of participatory structures for programme management, and the definition of transparent mechanisms for the control of funds at local level.