Capacity building in Community-based Forest Enterprise Development

DURATION: 2000-2004

PROJECT OBJECTIVES AND DESCRIPTION: At the end of 2000, the Gambia Forestry Department identified FAO´s Market Analysis and Development (MA&D) approach to assist communities in the creation of income generation activities from the Community Forests, in line with the Gambian Forest Management Concept (GFMC). As a result, the (MA&D) methodology was introduced in a pilot area in Western Division of The Gambia in 2001.

After encouraging results obtained during the pilot implementation of MA&D, the Forestry Department decided to extend the use of this methodology to two more territorial divisions. This became the basis of the Technical Cooperation Programme project signed in 2003 between the Gambia Forestry Department and the FAO.

The main objective was to train the Forestry Department personnel in MA&D methodology in order for them to facilitate the development of community-based enterprises utilising products, resources or services from community forests.


- The Forestry Department of The Gambia and the National Consultancy on forestry extension services and training (NACO)
- Village communities

ACTIVITIES: After the implementatjion of the first training course on the MA&D methodology for Forestry Department and NACO staff, The Gambia hosted the first ever-international workshop on MA&D for the African region.

During project implementation, national trainers successfully organised and facilitated products´ stakeholders meetings in the two divisions involving 14 villages and helped villagers to collect missing information on technical and market issues. The villagers were exposed to possible alliances with traders, technical service and credit providers. Through these stakeholder meetings, seeds of future alliances were planted and confidence of villagers raised.

ACHIEVEMENTS AND OUTCOMES: Key achievements made during the project:

  • an MA&D module was included in the National Forestry School curriculum. This is an important step in the institutionalisation of the M A& D process since through this inclusion all the new Forestry staff consider MA&D as an integrated instrument of their participatory forestry tool box.
  • Initial training efforts were aimed at building the capacity of a multi-level staff pool. As a result, national co-ordinators, national trainers and members of the field staff were soundly trained.
  • The field facilitators helped the Community Forest staff to organise village workshops to share collected information and do the final selection of products. The list of products selected in the two divisions included honey, timber/logs, handicraft and splits from rhun palm, Borassus aethiopum, firewood, ecotourism, tree nursery, kembo, Prosopis Africana, poles.
  • The pilot tests activities involved a high number of concerned Forest Committee members, who conducted market surveys and also helped to unveil illegal exploitation and trade of forest products.
  • Valuable forest products and services, which had not been in the focus of communities and the Forestry Department, were identified through MA&D research on the local and international markets.

The MA&D methodology was successfully adopted by a total of 26 villages. First, as a pilot experience in 14 villages located in the Western Division, during 2001-02, and then in six villages from the Low River Division, plus six villages more located in the Central River Division, during 2003-04.

Follow-up activities were planned to ensure the continuation in the development of community-based enterprises after the end of the TCP. Experience in participatory forest management in the Gambia has shown that once local communities have recognized the value of trees and forests, they will develop a vested interest in their protection as permanent sources of income and/or livelihoods


Gambia's Community Forestry Policy, instituted with support from FAO, won silver in the 2011 Future Policy Awards as one of the world's most inspiring and innovative forest policies. Learn more about the Future Policy Award and about Gambia's innovative Community Forestry Policy by clicking here.


  • Opportunities, challenges and general options for beekeeping in The Gambia  (2011). The future of the Bee Keeping Enterprises managed by Community Forest Committees (CFCs) is promising, considering its profit margin, high level of commitment of Product Based Interest Group (IGs) members, and support from the CFCs and Village Development Committees (VDCs). With the introduction of Market Analysis and Development (MA&D) approach in 2000, the enterprises have striven to reduce pressure on the forest resources while creating economic incentives and benefits for the entire communities. This piece discusses some of the opportunities, challenges and ways forward for beekeeping enterprises in The Gambia.  
  • Socio-economic evaluation of community-based forest enterprise development using the market analysis and development approach in community forestry in the Gambia (2011). Since 2000, the FD has introduced the Market Analysis & Development methodology in the 3 Regions of the country for use in the management of Community Forests the MA&D was adopted in 22 CFCs as a sustainable forest management and conservation tool. The purpose of this socio-economic evaluation of MA&D impacts is to determine the extent to which participating villagers are benefiting from application of the MA&D approach in the development of their forest based enterprises, as compared with those villagers not employing the MA&D CF methodology. 
  • Empowering communities through forestry: Community-based enterprise development in the Gambia (2005).The experience in participatory forest management in the Gambia has shown that once local communities have recognized the value of trees and forests, they will develop a vested interest in their protection as permanent sources of income and/or livelihoods. This case study describes how the Market Analysis and Development approach helped the local people to identify potential products and develop markets to provide income and benefits without degrading their resource base.  
  • Selling forest products to improve livelihoods (2005). Article published by FAO showcasing how several villagers in the Gambia have learned how to produce and market more successfully, through use of the MA&D approach.  
  • Film on participatory forest management in The Gambia, made by Aaron Brownell in 2004: The Department of Forestry in The Gambia with the bilateral cooperation and support from the German government has been working toward sustaining forests in The Gambia. As a result, today, more than 800 rural communities are now involved in the innovative movement of Participatory Forest Management. This video documents the principles, possibilities and benifits of this successful forest managment concept in the hope that it may serve as a positive example of sustainable resources management for others. 

last updated:  Tuesday, July 29, 2014