Besides promoting and implementing projects to create community-based tree and forest enterprises, the FAO Forestry Policy and Economics is engaged in partnership and collaboration activities with different institutions and organizations in several countries.

West Africa Forest Finance initiative (2011-2012)

FAO, the National Forest Programme Facility and the Growing Forest Partnerships programme have been working together to on a collaborative initiative focused on developing financial strategies to support smallholder and community forestry activities in West Africa to reduce poverty and enhance the socio-economic welfare of the region's forest stakeholders. Although there have been attempts to improve forest financing in recent years, information on forest financing is scattered and most members of the Economic Community of West African States lack comprehensive national forest financing strategies. The initiative has focused on supporting research, documentation, analyse and sharing of successful experiences with forest financing mechanisms in West Africa.

A planning and knowledge exchange workshop took place on 22–23 March, 2011 in Monrovia, Liberia. This workshop focused on developing the design and implementation strategy for the proposed initiative. This workshop also served as an opportunity for sharing experiences on the development and use of forest financing mechanisms in Africa and Latin America. A small group of participants representing government, the private sector, civil society in West Africa and international cooperation attended the workshop, and forest finance experts from Africa and Latin America presented examples of existing successful cases of forest financing so as to inspire workshop participants to implement similar work in their respective countries. A study entitled Existing and Potential Forest Financing Mechanisms for Smallholders and Community Forestry in West Africa was carried out prior to the workshop which further informed discussions held during the workshop. Work is now ongoing to develop additional examples of innovative financing mechanisms being used in West Africa, and a follow-up workshop is anticipated for early 2012. 

Field Training of Trainers and Community representatives on "Group management of finances" for micro-financing for forest product enterprise development: The Gambia (2009 - 2010)

Aimed to support the financing side of the project "Capacity building in Community-based Forest Enterprise Development", which was implemented in the Gambia in 2003, the Field Training of Trainers and Community representatives on "Group management of finances" was implemented in 2009 and 2010. The objectives are to increase capacity of trainers to support village forest resources entrepreneurs in accessing micro credit and management of group finances through the FAO Market Analysis & Development (MA&D) income generation approach. At the same time sustainable marketing of forest products is improved to reduce rural poverty and to create incentives for sound forest resource management. The government Ministry responsible for action is the Department of Forestry under Ministry of Forestry and the Environment of The Gambia; the implementing partners are CSOs Concern Universal (CU), the National Consultancy on Rural Extension Service and Training (NACO), and St. Joseph's Family Farm Centre (SJFF).

Main activities include:

  • Partner capacity building in the use of Handbook on "group management of finances" for micro and small tree and forest product enterprises;
  • Training and support for selected community representatives in the 4 villages using MA&D to facilitate micro credit access to "kick-start the emerging enterprises";
  • Developing strategy for follow-up and support to communities for business plan development;
  • Initiating the inclusion of "group management of finances" for micro and small tree and forest product enterprises as a session in the Participatory Forest Management module in the National Forestry School in Kafuta.

Field training activity to support the Forestry Sector: Malawi (2009)

This training course, started in 2009, aimed at strengthening the capacity of government, community, NGO actors and other key stakeholders to utilise skills and methods that will develop profitable small and medium forest based enterprises. Trainings were organized through the Centre for Development Management Consulting, with the overall supervision of the Forest Department of Malawi. Malawi had benefited from previous introductory training on MA&D, and through this follow up activity the objectives envisaged were:

  • Training needs assessment to select the most promising support government and non government staff who already received MA&D 'type' training. Train on how to assist and follow entrepreneurs during the first months / years after establishment;
  • Identify and fill in skill gaps of Malawi forest decision makers. Provide them with planning training for harmonious forest based enterprises development and accessing better support from government and non government field staff;
  • Scale up the number of people who have the basic skills in forest based enterprise development by using focal trainers on the ground.

Participation in the Dialogue on Pro-Poor Commercial Forestry meeting: Bolivia (2007)

In September 2007, the Forests Dialogue organized a meeting in Bolivia to discuss approaches to maximize commercial forestry's potential to reduce poverty. See the following websites The Forest  and Yale Bolivia Poverty Dialogue, and the Forests Dialogue Summary Report PDF

International conference on small and medium enterprise development (2006)

The International Conference on Small and medium forest enterprise development for poverty reduction: Opportunities and challenges in globalizing markets was held in May, 2006 at the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), based in Turrialba, Costa Rica.

The conference was organized by FAO and CATIE with the support of the Interchurch organisation for development co-operation (ICCO), the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the Rainforest Alliance, the Interamerican Development Bank - Multilateral Investment Fund (IDB-MIF), the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), and the Regional Unit for Technical Assistance (RUTA).

Aimed to develop a common understanding of the actual and potential role of small and medium forest enterprises in poverty reduction strategies and sustainable forest management, and share the lessons learned in small and medium forest enterprise development in Africa, Asia and Latin America, the conference focused on identifying:

  • Key elements of strategies for promoting enabling political and institutional frameworks for small and medium forest enterprise development;
  • Critical success factors for developing value chains in forest products which ensure adequate benefit sharing by community-based forest enterprises;
  • Technical business and financial services necessary to enable successful small and medium forest enterprise development and related poverty reduction.

Outcomes included: a CD of presentations, a final report, and a policy brief. A publication of selected case studies and the initial agreement to launch a community of practice platform with the purpose of sharing knowledge and experiences about small and medium forest enterprises on a continued basis is available in hardcopy from CATIE.

Learning Alliance platform (2006)

The Learning Alliance is a platform aimed to promote a mutual learning process on a proprietary theme, including a number of actors and based on the systematization of their experiences, with analysis and reflection to reach a higher level of knowledge, development and agreement. Funded by the FAO, this project seeks to generate and disseminate new expertise on key factors concerning the organization and development of small-scale community-based forest enterprises. The organizations involved are: FAO, the Tropical Agriculture Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) through the FOMIN project, CeCoEco, COSUDE, and the representatives of local communities, governmental agencies, private enterprises and projects and non governmental organizations.

The Learning Alliance project, which ended in 2006, had the following four specific objectives:

  • Identify and validate innovative concepts to strengthen the Community-based forest products enterprise development and the Market Analysis and Development (MA&D) methodology;
  • Strengthen MA&D facilitators’ capacity to organize and develop community-based forest products enterprises;
  • Facilitate enterprise organization processes of small producers of Non Wood Forest Products in Guatemala and Nicaragua;
  • Strengthen comprehension, development, and agreement of small-scale community-based enterprise development.

National experience sharing workshop on small-scale/community-based forest enterprise development: Uganda (2006)

This meeting targeted about 50 participants from key stakeholders in the forestry sector. The main objectives of the meeting were to share experiences and lessons learned with forestry stakeholders in implementing the MA&D process in Uganda and the Gambia, and the implications for forest conservation, as well as to identify new partnerships to continue the work in Uganda on community-based enterprise development.

Representatives of Mgahinga and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Conservation Trust (MBIFCT) and two Interest Group (mushroom and village work) presented the experiences and lessons learned on Community-based Commercial Enterprise Development for the Conservation of Biodiversity at World Heritage Site.

The participants identified factors that must be considered while facilitating business groups oriented towards tree and forest products. An introductory course was then conducted to introduce the MA&D methodology to a wide range of projects and institutions working in the area of participatory natural resource management.

Overview study to assess the status of microfinance for forest-based small-scale enterprises (2005)

Released in 2005, the Microfinance and forest-based small-scale enterprises study analyzed the possibilities and constraints of microfinance for different forest-based enterprises. This study was carried out by the Forestry Policy and Institutions Service (FONP) and the Forest Products Service (FOPP) of FAO. To read more about this activity please click here. To access the microfinance study, please consult the publications webpage.

last updated:  Thursday, October 14, 2021