Equitable partnerships, markets and forest extension
Extension theory and practice have evolved over the past decades from concepts of transfer of technology and market-oriented extension in the 1960s and 1970s, to farming systems research and participatory technology development in the 1970s and early 1980s, to facilitation of participatory and social learning in the 1990s.
Today, the theme of FAO's work in forest extension is to promote problem solving and participatory and multistakeholder approaches to enhance the contribution of trees and forests to sustainable land use and food security. These approaches tackle issues of social justice, using principles of dialogue, mutual respect and learning among stakeholders, balanced with parameters of environmental sustainability.
FAO¿s forest extension strategy focuses on the facilitation of flexible multistakeholder partnerships pertinent to the livelihoods of producers and gatherers of forest and tree products. With the growing and accelerating move towards market economies, FAO is emphasizing partnerships that facilitate access to markets and market information for these producers. The programme is elaborating and implementing five main partnership models based on the principles of social, economic and environmental equity:
- links between farm foresters and the private sector;
- farmers¿ associations in small-scale agroforestry and non-industrial private forestry, facilitating understanding of the structure and dynamics of the product marketing chain, negotiation among market actors, organizational learning and group promotion;
- participatory joint action learning among stakeholders in plantation forestry, including communities, farm foresters, the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and government;
- clearing-houses for technical and marketing information related to tree and forest products;
- benefit-sharing mechanisms.
In support of sustainable forest management, a current focus of extension is to enhance the role of local populations in the development and application of criteria and indicators at the forest management unit level. FAO undertakes to strengthen the capacity of extension services of private industry, government and NGOs in this regard.