Organization of the process

Identification of partner

The preparation of the national forest programme is a national undertaking which involves national and, when necessary, international partners. Partners and their roles should be identified early in the process.

National partners may include:

  • national and sub-national level governmental institutions, from the forestry sector and other sectors;
  • training and research institutions;
  • NGOs involved in development and conservation;
  • community-based organizations, private interest and user groups (including rural communities, farmers, settlers and forest dwellers, private enterprises and associations).

Regional and local level stakeholders should be fully integrated in the process and be given the opportunity to participate in all phases.Women play a vital role in many aspects of forestry activities. Collectively they are one of the main actors on the forestry scene. Their participation in the process should thus be fully recognized and facilitated.

As the national forest programmes are broad-based, implementation has to be coordinated between local and national actors. Therefore, it is important that detailed responsibilities be specified for each participating actor.

The role of the private sector, community-based organisations, NGOs and others in the national forest programme implementation should be clearly established through consultations. Special attention may be required to ensure their full participation in the implementation process through workshops, seminars, etc.

If necessary, the support of external agencies may be sought to assist in the preparation of national forest programmes and to provide technical and financial assistance. Past involvement in the forestry sector and commitment to contimued support during the implementation of the National forest programme is be a factor worthy of consideration factor when selecting agencies. International partners may include:

  • inter-governmental agencies and development banks,
  • bilateral agencies,
  • international NGOs.

One of the support agencies could act as a "leader" and assist the National Coordinating Unit. Many arrangements are possible depending on each country's situation. In the past, lead international agencies (Core Support Agencies) often provided the services of an international team leader (acting as counterpart to the National Coordinator) and part of the funds required to see the process through.

The volume of work financed from external sources and the number of supporting agencies involved will determine how donor coordination and participation should be organized. It is important that all donor agencies be fully aware of what is expected from them and when, and of what the other donors are doing in the same field. This could be facilitated through the provision of periodic reports on donor-assisted activities by the National Coordinating Unit and through adequate consultative mechanisms, e.g. periodic information meetings and round tables, either annually or after longer periods.

Organization of the national coordination mechanisms

Coordination mechanisms will be required to stimulate and to lead and monitor the National forest programme. Some countries may also choose to have regional and/or local level structures.

Whenever possible, existing coordination mechanisms should be used. Creating new or parallel structures should be avoided. If necessary, existing mechanisms could be improved and strengthened, through a Capacity Building Programme (see Section D 2and C 1.3).

Various mechanisms can be put in place to coordinate the process. They may vary in name, structure and exact functions, depending on the situation in each country. Four such mechanisms are described in the following paragraphs to illustrate some of the possibilities and identify the scope of functions that each can perform.

A National Consultative Forum on Forests is a broad-based forum designed to ensure the participation of all partners involved in the National forest programme. Its main role is to provide guidelines for the planning and implementation and to ensure that actions are taken accordingly. The role of a National Consultative Forum is to:

  • promote consensus on critical issues related to forest development and conservation;
  • approve and periodically review the priorities;
  • periodically review the progress of related policy and institutional reforms;
  • identify conflicts between stakeholders;
  • facilitate and ensure follow-up of action.

Such a forum could also play a key role in maintaining national commitment to a transparent policy dialogue and an adjustment process and function as a link between the national and international groups which discuss policy and strategic issues. The forum is composed of representatives from all national partners (government, NGOs, local communities and populations, forest interest groups and the private sector).

A High-Level Inter-Ministerial Coordinating Body could also be established, under the National Lead Institution, for land-use related policy and strategic issues. Such a body could work on a formal level (e.g. based on the recommendations formulated by the National Forestry Consultative Forum) and, at the same time, provide the Consultative Forum with clearly defined options and approaches to particular problems to facilitate consensus building. It could also have decision-making powers delegated by the government, either formally or de facto. The agenda for the Coordinating Body would include human settlement policies, land tenure systems, agricultural policies, infrastructure development, environmental policies and the establishment of protected areas. The creation of such a body is clearly a formidable political challenge but seems necessary for an effective national forest programme, given the cross-sectoral origin of fundamental forestry problems.

The National Lead Institution is seen as an overall supervisory body responsible for the national forest programme and the coordination of the contributions of all national institutions from forestry and other sectors. It is the official focal point for all national forest programme related matters. The National Lead Institution should be invested with sufficient authority within the government structure to:

  • initiate the process and establish contacts with national and international partners;
  • play a lead role in arbitrating conflicting and cross-sectoral issues (for example, institutional responsibilities, land-use issues);
  • coordinate the contributions of government agencies and mediate inter-sectoral conflicts;
  • ensure the full integration of the national forest programme within national development policies and plans;
  • harmonize policies.

The National Coordinating Unit is the main institutional actor at the operational level. It is the executing arm of the National Lead Institution and a key element for the continuity of the process. The National Coordinating Unit is headed by a National Coordinator who is supported by a small team of professionals. Its main responsibility is operational coordination of all Programmeís related activities and ensuring that necessary action is taken by national and international, governmental and non-governmental partners.

Whenever possible the National Coordinating Unit should be incorporated into an existing planning unit (e.g., within the Forestry Service) and maintain close links with, and/or be part of, the National Planning Institution and the Ministry of Finance.

The National Coordinating Unit is the operational focal point of the process and functions as a clearing house where all the information on national forest programme implementation is collected for analysis and dissemination.

The MAIN FUNCTION of the National Coordinating Unit is to


with all national and international partners at all phases of the process ;


a detailed work plan for the formulation of the national forest programme


public meetings, information sessions, round tables and workshops


contributions from all sources by acting as catalyst


the information generated by the process and the results achieved through consensus building


all concerned partners, on a regular basis


and participate in the evaluation of the process itself, the inputs provided, the results and their impacts.

The composition and mandate of the various coordination mechanisms will need to be revised periodically, for example between the planning and implementation phases, and adjusted to meet perceived needs.

Development of a communication strategy

A communication strategy should be developed at the earliest stages to ensure that all stakeholders are continuously informed about the process and its results and can participate in all phases.

During the preparatory phase, all available information relevant to the process should be obtained. Ensuring the wide dissemination of this information throughout the country will be fundamental. It is particularly important that:

  • all potential partners be aware that the country is going to start the process;
  • partners be fully informed about the process itself, its objectives and role they can play in it;
  • decision-makers be informed and grant their full support to the process.
  • The dissemination of information must be on going activity and should not limited to the initial stages of the process.