National Forest Programme
NFP as a comprehensive forest governance framework
When the countries participating in the IPF initially agreed on the concept of NFPs in 1996, they conceived of them as “comprehensive forest policy frameworks.” In defining them, they emphasized that:
“national forest programmes demand a broad intersectoral approach at all stages, including the formulation of policies, strategies and plans of action, as well as their implementation, monitoring and evaluation”.
In this concept, the term “comprehensive” has a double reach, indicating that:
- NFPs should not only cover planning in areas such as a forest policies or multi-year programmes of action, but also cover their on-the-ground implementation, evaluation, and improvement over time in an iterative process; and
- NFPs should be integrated consistently into wider programmes for sustainable land use, by taking into account the activities of other sectors, such as agriculture, energy and industrial development.
Thus, as comprehensive forest policy frameworks, NFPs contain:
- forest (and forest-related) policy which in turn determines and guides;
- forest (and forest-related) legislation;
- the institutional framework and governance mechanism for implementation; and
- strategies, programmes and/or action plans for implementation of the forest policy.
In order to function properly, this also requires that certain institutional arrangements are in place. For example, the arrangements can, and often do, include platforms for information sharing, discussion and participation, and multi-stakeholder bodies that guide and support the processes.
NFPs aim to provide an overall governance framework or umbrella under which different initiatives can consistently operate and contribute towards SFM. In fact, one of the NFP concept’s strong points is its flexibility, which enables it to adapt to specific needs of individual countries and to recognize and incorporate emerging issues. Emerging issues, such as climate change adaptation and mitigation, and forest law enforcement are supported at a country level by a number of initiatives. The wide adoption of NFPs by countries provides an opportunity to enhance the integration and coordination of initiatives, strengthening the consistency of national forest governance frameworks.
Based on the results of a 2010 survey carried out by FAO and the NFP Facility, most countries have established structures and achieved results through their NFPs. However, few NFPs have been able to coordinate forest-related initiatives such as REDD+ and the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) support programme at the country level. Often, this is because NFPs have been developed and implemented with a limited scope or inadequate resources and capacities. As a consequence, countries often have parallel structures and processes for different initiatives, lack effective coordination and do not make full use of the potential synergies.
To highlight the role of the NFP as an overall governance framework for different forest-related initiatives, FAO is undertaking projects on the linkages of climate change, REDD+ and FLEGT with NFPs.