Social learning and multi-stakeholder partnerships in the forestry sector

Outgrower schemes are one example of negotiated partnerships in the forest sector. Sometimes only two principle parties are involved, sometimes four or five key groups of stakeholders are involved including: private companies; non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community representatives/farmers associations; research and extension agencies; and government. If these stakeholders are to engage in joint implementation of activities together, successful negotiations and implementation are based on mutual respect of knowledge and also the way in which that knowledge is retained and presented by each of the stakeholders . In an optimal situation the combined knowledge of these stakeholders, creates a catalytic force for sustained change, and enhanced and equitable access to income and benefits of the forest industry. These were some of the underlying characteristics of the process supporting the FAO /CIFOR Bogor meeting (May 2002), where private sector, community representatives, NGOs, research and extension agencies from South Africa and Indonesia met to review, discuss and collate their experiences with regard to out grower schemes in their respective countries.

  • Research agencies are defined as one among the stakeholders; international and national, research and extension agencies, facilitating a process of interactions and collective innovation between stakeholders.
  • The private sector, in this case, national and international pulp and paper companies, are willing partners in proposed participatory action research and joint learning activities.
  • The process of action learning is framed in the principles of sustainable plantation forest management.
This approach encourages and facilitates:
  • Transparency in information sharing and genuine reciprocity between stakeholders - an absence of paternalism;
  • the recognition by the private sector that involvement in processes of multi-stakeholder dialogue and assessment of principles and criteria sets them ahead of trends and imminent legislation;
  • joint stakeholder development, testing and negotiation of the principles of sustainable plantation forest management at the forest management unit level; and
  • joint action, mutual or social learning were recognised as terms that reflect the necessary interaction between multiple stakeholders dimension of the development and implementation of these partnerships, and concepts of mutual respect and learning between stakeholders.

A number of other institutions are researching and documenting experiences of partnerships between small scale producers, farm foresters, and the corporate sector and the wood products industry. These include:

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has conducted a series of comparative case studies between Indonesia and the Philippines. Results have been published Towards Mutually-Beneficial Company - Community Partnerships in Timber Plantation: Lessons Learnt from Indonesia, (Ani Adiwinata Nawir;) are available on the CIFOR/FAO CD: Ensuring corporate - smallholder partnerhsips benefit all players and the environment (2004) . For more information on CIFORs work on outgrower arrangements visitMaking outgrower schemes work.

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) commissioned case studies in several countries including China, India, Indonesia and South Africa. Results are presented in the publicationCompany-community forestry partnerships: From raw deals to mutual gains?by Mayers and Vermeulen. It provides examples of various types of partnerships, from informal arrangements and social responsibility efforts to outgrower schemes and joint ventures. For more information on this and other activities visit the Web site of IIED'sPrivate Sector Forestry (PSF) Project.

last updated:  Thursday, January 12, 2006