A Model Forest is a large-scale landscape encompassing many different land uses; an integrated and multi-stakeholder approach to sustainable forest management; and a long-term process that promotes sustainability. The Model Forest serves as a platform for bringing the diverse partnership together to develop and realize a common vision of sustainable development in their landscape.
In other words, a Model Forest is a fully working landscape of forests, farms, protected areas, rivers and towns -- a Model Forest is as much about the people who sustain themselves from the landscape, the effects they have on its resources and their human development, as it is about trees and forest products.
Model Forests follow six broad principles that combine the social, environmental and economic needs of local communities with the long-term sustainability of large forest-based landscapes. The stakeholders involved define what sustainability means in their own context, identify a common vision and set of goals, devise a governance structure and strategic plan, then work together to achieve the goals set out in that plan. In turn, the process nurtures a depth of trust and transparency, increasing the willingness to implement innovative solutions.
Provence Model Forest, France. Strawberry tree fruits. ©Armand YekerModel Forests are designed to occupy the middle ground between policy and practice. They are living laboratories where governments and decision makers can test new policies or programs before scaling up to other areas, or where innovative practices developed within the partnership can be shared with decision makers for implementation beyond the Model Forest boundary. They are not a project, but a process.