Forty years of community-based forestry: A review of its extent and effectiveness
Since the 1970s and 1980s, community-based forestry has grown in popularity, based on the concept that local communities, when granted sufficient property rights over local forest commons, can organize autonomously and develop local institutions to regulate the use of natural resources and manage them sustainably. Over time, various forms of community-based forestry have evolved in different countries, but all have at their heart the notion of some level of participation by smallholders and community groups in planning and implementation.

This publication is FAO’s first comprehensive look at the impact of community-based forestry since previous reviews in 1991 and 2001. It considers both collaborative regimes (forestry practised on land with formal communal tenure requiring collective action) and smallholder forestry (on land that is generally privately owned). The publication examines the extent of community-based forestry globally and regionally and assesses its effectiveness in delivering on key biophysical and socioeconomic outcomes, i.e. moving towards sustainable forest management and improving local livelihoods. The report is targeted at policy-makers, practitioners, researchers, communities and civil society.

Also available in Spanish.

FAO. 2016. Forty years of community-based forestry: A review of its extent and effectiveness. FAO Forestry Paper 176. Rome.

    Enhancing Stakeholder Participation in National Forest Programmes
A policy brief about national forest programmes for those who make and implement forest policies. This includes government staff working in forest departments and agencies as well as senior level decision-makers within ministries concerned with forests, environment and natural resources.
FAO. 2009. Enhancing Stakeholder Participation in National Forest Programmes. FAO Forestry Policy Brief. Rome, 4 pp.
  Enhancing Stakeholder Participation in National Forest Programmes: A Training Manual
A training manual designed for use by trainers, facilitators or coaches to facilitate high quality participatory training in order to effectively enhance stakeholder participation in nfps and in other areas of decision making and action in the forestry sector. It harnesses lessons from best practice in national forest programmes, the use of participatory methods and adult learning.
FAO. 2010. Enhancing Stakeholder Participation in National Forest Programmes: A Training Manual. Rome, 121 pp.
  Participatory Forest Management in Ethiopia, Practices and Experiences
Deforestation and the resulting environmental degradation is a major problem in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and a key factor challenging food security, community livelihood and sustainable development. Between 1955 and 1979, over 77 percent of the country's forested area disappeared and it continues to lose 8 percent of its remaining forests annually. Participatory Forest Management (PFM) was first introduced to Ethiopia thirteen years ago but the approach is expanding to cover more and more hectares of forest across the country. This report is the result of a survey of ten PFM actors in Ethiopia including stakeholders in the Federal Government of Ethiopia, regional governments, woreda offices, international development agencies and international as well as national NGOs.
FAO. 2011. Participatory Forest Management in Ethiopia, Practices and Experiences, by Ellen Winburg. Addis Ababa, 58 pp.



Forests and people: 25 years of community forestry, 2001

Community Forestry: Ten Years in Review, 1995

Community Forestry working papers

FAO. 1998. Forest resources and institutions. Community Forestry Working Papers, No.3. 223 pp.
In the early 1990s, FAO brought together an advisory group of specialists focused on issues of managing forests as common property. They urged FAO to strengthen the data available and its analysis. The group pointed out that there were many types of forest products and that frequently several community groups with different perceptions and rules for managing selected products were in any one forest at a given time. To understand the dynamics of forest use and management with this many variables, new tools were needed. This sentiment was echoed by FAO member countries who urged the development of a multidisciplinary and multilevel integrated database allowing comparison over time and between sites, as well as more nuance in interpretation. In this Working Paper the authors have drawn from their data to look at specific research hypotheses. The purposes of the original studies vary. Chapter 7 is built on researchers working as partners with Yuracare people to document their historical territory and its current usage. This issue is of great concern to the Yuracare, as the Bolivian government is demarcating land areas and wishes to be able to demonstrate their claims as well as have a basis for developing management plans.... Some studies have benefitted project planners and management by offering a better understanding of local use and rules as well as technical knowledge for the planning phase and over time monitoring the effects of project activity on the people as well as on the trees. Other studies have been made in order to inform government policy. The fact that this is also an international network of researchers with centers in Uganda, Bolivia, Nepal, Senegal, and other countries means that there is a support group with which researchers may discuss questions and a bigger database from which to establish hypotheses and develop queries.

Oltheten, T. 1995. Participatory Approaches to planning for Community Forestry. Community Forestry Working Papers, No. 2. 130 pp.
The purpose of this working paper is to gain a better understanding of participatory approaches to project planning and to learn lessons from project experiences with this type of planning. The use of participatory methods and tools has become common practice in the field. Mainly because of lack of systematic recording and documentation, however, it is not always clear how and by whom these tools are used. In an attempt to illustrate concrete examples of these approaches, this study was developed primarily using experiences from nine field projects selected because they were applying innovative participatory approaches. Case studies were conducted on established community forestry projects in Senegal, Bolivia, Pakistan (Malakand), Nicaragua and Nepal (Begnas Tal Rupa Tal), as well as four field projects of the Interregional Participatory Upland Conservation and Development Programme (PUCD) in Rwanda, Burundi, Pakistan (Quetta) and Nepal (Bhusunde Khola Watershed). The study contains summaries of the individual case study reports prepared by national consultants, as well as a comparative analysis of the major findings and lessons learned. For the preparation of this synthesis report, technical reports and other relevant project documents were consulted in addition to the reports produced by the national consultants. The working paper is structured as follows. The first chapter deals with the focus of the study and the conceptual framework on which it is based. In Chapter 2, a short abstract of each of the individual case study reports is presented, and the reports are briefly reviewed. Chapter 3 presents the major lessons learned from the case studies, followed by Chapter 4 with the conclusions, recommendations and suggestions for further research. The last two chapters contain edited versions of the individual case study reports, divided into the established community forestry projects (Chapter 5) and the PUCD projects (Chapter 6).

FAO. 1994. The Role of Alternative Conflict Management in Community Forestry. Community Forestry Working Papers, No. 1.
Environmental degradation evident in many countries today is often the result of conflict over access to forest and tree resources within communities, between communities, and between communities and outside entities. People in forest-based communities compete with one another for scarce forest resources for a variety of domestic uses, while at the same time growing needs of local rural and urban areas and of world markets have led to commercial exploitation of these same forests. Competition-led conflicts are invariably complex because the different forest products have many different users, and decisions about use have long term effects. When national-level decisions and policies dealing with common resource management are made, they often ignore traditional rules of land and tree tenure. Growing inequity of access, as well as lack of confidence in future access, cause people to cut down forests and resist conservation efforts, as some individuals act in their own immediate interests rather than the community's long-term interests. Under such circumstances, traditional means of conflict management are often ineffectual in dealing with natural resource disputes; the resulting sense of powerlessness leads to estrangement of local communities from the national political process. At the same time, government agencies attempt to impose their authority upon local communities, for example by limiting forest access to larger entities to whom they provide permits, often with little success in controlling either local or external use. In the conflicts that ensue, between parties of such uneven power and with such disparate viewpoints, it is not only the environment that suffers.

Biggelar, C. 1996.
Farmer Experimentation and Innovation. A case study of knowledge generation processes in agroforestry systems in Rwanda. FAO Community Forestry Case Study Series, No. 12. 123 pp.
This case study is the first in a series of publications on the topic of farmer initiated research and experimentation - farmer's spontaneous experimentation and farmer-led research and extension process. The goal of the series is to determine more effective ways in which farmers can be supported in their own processes of experimentation and knowledge sharing, while at the same time working towards a consolidation of local forestry knowledge.

Upadhyay, K. 1995. Shifting Cultivation in Bhutan: A Gradual Approach to Modifying Land Use Patterns - A case study from Pema Gatshel District, Bhutan. FAO Community Forestry Case Study Series, No. 11. 90 pp. 
The case study is the result of one of the most sustained efforts made by the Royal Government of Bhutan to strengthen the agricultural base of people dependent on shifting cultivation. This effort, which began in the mid-1980s, involved undertaking a comprehensive evaluation of shifting cultivation and its practitioners, giving particular attention not only to the techniques of shifting cultivation and its environmental impacts but also to the social, institutional and cultural aspects of the communities depending for their subsistence on this form of cultivation, called tsheri in Bhutan. This breadth of inquiry was necessary to glean an understanding of why shifting cultivation has persisted despite repeated attempts to eradicate it.

FAO. 1995. Tree and land tenure: Using rapid appraisal to study natural resource management. FAO Community Forestry Case Study Series, No. 10. 87 pp.
The Forests, Trees and People Programme, coordinated within FAO by the Community Forestry Unit, focuses on strengthening local communities' efforts to improve the management of their forest and tree resources. Land and tree tenure is a central issue in this area. The failure to clearly understand existing rights to land and trees has been a common cause of failure of community forestry projects. As a result, individual incentives are often misjudged, and the benefits of projects are distributed quite differently from the intention of project designers or participants. An understanding of the existing system of tree and land tenure is essential to viable forestry project design. This case study, by Dr Karen Schoonmaker Freudenberger of the Land Tenure Center of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, is a key addition to the series of community forestry publications on the subject of using rapid appraisal tools to study land and tree tenure.

FAO. 1993. Tree and Land Tenure in the Eastern Terai, Nepal. Community Forestry Case Study Series, No. 9.
Tenure of trees and land and the formulation of appropriate policies to address problems of landlessness and equity has been a major focus of recent community forestry efforts. This study is an in-depth analysis of two Nepalese communities, revealing how issues of tenure and recent immigration have a direct impact upon the success of community forestry initiatives. The people of the Terai lowlands, at the foot of the Churia Hills of Nepal, have evolved highly differentiated systems of land and tree tenure in keeping with a complex system of caste and communal rivalry. The ownership of trees in the Terai is regarded as a sign of prestige and an investment in the future. However, in a region with high levels of landlessness and few alternative sources of income, tree ownership is heavily dependent upon the perception of secure tenure. Smallholder and tenant farmers are unwilling to grow trees on land that does not belong to them, preferring to exploit what little natural forest remains.

FAO. 1993. The Impact of Social and Environmental Change on Forest Management. FAO Community Forestry Case Study Series, No. 8.
In recent years much has been learned about the dependency of people on forests for food security but much has yet to be understood so that forest policies can incorporate these aspects. Many people not only use forests but also depend upon them for their livelihoods, relying upon trees and forests for food, medicine and income. Forest and tree dependency can exist seasonally, year round or in times of crisis. People may be directly dependent on forests and trees for food or indirectly dependent because forest and tree resources provide crucial income. It is essential that the nature of dependency be well understood to make food security more assured and to provide more effective support to local people in their efforts to improve their well-being via forest and tree management. This case study by anthropologist Nancy Peluso is the result of research which was undertaken to explore several questions: how can we better understand situations of households which depend for all or part of their livelihood on forest and tree products, how do social, political and economic events affect the degree and nature of dependency on forests, and what are the variations in dependence within, and possibly between, villages?

Vizarreta, Luisa. 1993. Peasant Participation in Community Reforestation. Four Communities in the Department of Cuzco, Peru. FAO Community Forestry Case Study Series, No. 7. 58 pp.
This case study examines the history of government-sponsored communal afforestation efforts in four communities of the Cuzco Region of Peru. The monograph conveys the village perspective on three decades of afforestation, analyzing the differential impact of tree planting efforts on various sub-groups within the village. In this manner the study examines the incentives and disincentives to tree planting for distinct groups of community members. The study also assesses the constraints to reforestation and the costs and benefits distribution problems these communities have faced. Finally, the book provides some general guidance as to factors that encourage or discourage participation in tree planting activites.

Colfer, C. and Dudley, R. 1993. Shifting Cultivators of Indonesia: marauders or managers of the forest? Rice production and forest use among the Uma' Jalan of East Kalimantan. FAO Community Forestry Case Study Series, No. 6. 119 pp.
This case study, which continues the evaluation of the natural resource management systems, examines shifting cultivation as a potential basis for more sustainable natural resource management in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. The analysis, which was researched and written by Carol J. Colfer, examines the process of change and development in the system of shifting cultivation practised by the Uma' Jalan Kenyah' over three decades, tracing them from their homeland, through government-sponsored resettlement, to dispersal and formation into three new daughter communities. These four communities are compared with regard to population, land/forest use, productivity and land tenure.

FAO. 1991. Case Studies in Forest-Based Small Scale Enterprises in Asia - Rattan, Matchmaking and Handicrafts. FAO Community Forestry Case Study Series, No. 4.
The number of forest-based small scale enterprises (FBSSEs), and the true extent of their contribution to local economies is becoming apparent. An understanding of both their importance to local people and the vulnerability of FBSSEs to external factors is best examined and analyzed through case studies. The Committee on Forestry first recognized the need for further individualized study of FBSSEs in 1985. In response to their recommendations, the Forest, Trees and People Programme, administered by the Community Forestry Unit of the Forestry Planning and Institutions Service of FAO has been developing a collection of case analyses of FBSSEs and related non-wood forest products. This set of three Asian case studies was commissioned by the Planning and Institutions Service. They illustrate the considerable diversity of these enterprises.

FAO. 1991. Women's Role in Dynamic Forest-Based Small Scale Enterprises - Case Studies on Uppage and Lacquerware from India. FAO Community Forestry Case Study Series, No. 3.
In 1985 the Policies and Institutions Service of the FAO Forestry Department began to explore ways that forestry could strengthen food security for those most dependent on tree and forest products. In addition to the direct nutritional inputs (food, fodder and fuel), the often more important indirect inputs of provision of cash income through sale of forest products or employment through household enterprise, were also explored. A series of case studies and an expert consultation led to production of Forestry Paper 79 Forest-based small scale enterprises (FBSSEs) which emphasized the often primary role forest-based small scale enterprises play in ensuring food security. It noted that these enterprises frequently provide an off-farm source of income during seasons when agricultural activity is lower, income scarce and supplies for the new agricultural season are needed. FBSSEs provide crucial support to small holder farmer production systems.

Jain, Sobhita. 1988. Forestland for the people - A forest village project in Northeast Thailand. FAO Community Forestry Case Study Series, No. 2. 84pp.
The purpose of this study is two-fold. The first is to provide a detailed analysis of the processes and achievements of an FAO-assisted project to rehabilitate a degraded area in the Khao. Phu Luang National Reserved Forest in Northern Thailand through: the community forestry approach. In this respect, the study is written for development planners and foresters in Thailand as a means of helping these national experts evaluate the results of their efforts in this are:, and to make appropriate decisions regarding the expansion of tide community forestry approach throughout rural Thailand. The second, more far-reaching purpose of the case study is to draw attention to elements of international relevance. Although it refers to a single, specific campaign, many of the experiences reported in the case study can be applied in a wide variety of socio-economic conditions. As a still relatively new concept, every community forestry effort has lessons to teach about forestry as a tool and a resource for rural development.

Jain, Sobhita. 1988. Case studies of Farm Forestry and Wasteland Development in Gujarat, India. FAO Community Forestry Case Study Series, No. 1. 62pp.
Great interest, both in India and elsewhere, has been shown in the Gujarat forestry experience involving local participation. In 1982, FAO was requested by the Government of India to support a study of forestry activities in Gujarat. This study Evaluation of the Gujarat Social Forestry Programme, was published in 1985. Although it produced new information, it also pointed out the need for case studies which would examine the dynamics of farm-forestry, as well as the benefits and costs to farmers,and the perception of these costs and benefits of the rural people involved, especially the poor. The case studies presented in this document were carried out by Dr. Shobhita Jain under the direction of M. Hoskins. In doing the studies, Dr. Jain has analysed some of the questions raised by previous reports through indepth case studies of various social groups in different communities and involved in contrasting forestry schemes. She first places each case study in relation to the market economy. Her findings and insights shed light on the complexities of successful farm forestry and on the danger of generalizing, especially on such issues as trees replacing food crops or conflicts of goals between the forest service and participating farmers. 

FAO. 1995. Social and economic incentives for smallholder tree growing. FAO Community Forestry Case Study Series.
A Case Study from Murang'a District, Kenya.

FAO. 1997.
Crafting institutional arrangements for community forestry. Community Forestry Field Manuals, No. 7. 145 pp.
This manual is based on the premise that institutions shape individuals' behaviour and that these institutions can be modified to encourage different patterns of conduct. The purpose of the manual is (1) to help those involved with community forestry projects to better understand the importance of institutional issues to the success of their initiatives and (2) to provide a systematic approach to gathering information about and addressing institutional issues that arise during project development and implementation. This manual is directed primarily to the field staff of community forestry projects and programmes, and to their local counterparts working in government agencies, and to policy-makers.

FAO. 2003. Marketing information systems for non-timber forest products. Community Forestry Field Manuals, No. 6.
Economic benefits that can be derived from non-timber forest products (NTFPs) and agroforestry products have been identified as a major opportunity for community forestry projects. However, while many projects are producing products which fall into these categories, the markets are generally informal and it is difficult for local people to have access to information about potential markets and have any control over the prices they receive.In 1989, the FAO Senior Community Forestry Officer conducted a survey in selected Asian countries to learn of opportunities for and constraints to community forestry in order to plan activities meaningful at the national level. Government ministers, staff of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and project managers were included in the survey. While those surveyed noted that there were many topics of importance, improved benefits from marketing products from community forestry projects was the priority. Of highest importance was a locally-managed market information system (MIS). They emphasized that it should be a low input system which could be sustainably controlled by users, with very little need for external investment or maintenance. They required a market information system which would empower local producers and traders by providing more transparent information on community forestry products, making them more profitable to produce, manage and sell.

FAO. 1995. Selecting tree species on the basis of community needs. Community Forestry Field Manuals, No. 5. 165 pp.
The purpose of this manual is to help field workers to work with a community in order to identify the tree species that would best serve that community's needs. A growing number of projects and programmes are recognizing that the species chosen for tree-planting projects should reflect the needs and priorities of local communities. Tree planting requires more than just planting trees. In most communities, tree planting involves a complex sequence of decisions. To be effective, the field worker involved in community forestry must understand the community in which he/she works and have a thorough knowledge of local tree planting and management practices. As the focus of community tree-planting projects shifts toward concentration on community needs, the role of the field worker is also changing. Rather than simply promoting tree species previously chosen by the tree-planting project, the field worker should work with the project's intended beneficiaries using a participatory approach, in order to elicit the community's own view of its needs and constraints. This new role requires the field worker to have expertise in collecting and analyzing information concerning environmental, social, economic and other factors, as well as skills in community extension. Working from this information, the field worker (bringing technical expertise and new options) and the members of the community (bringing local technical knowledge and sensitivity to local conditions) can select among several options of tree species and tree-growing technologies. The objective is to provide the greatest possible benefits to the community.

FAO. 1994. Tree and land tenure rapid appraisal tools. Community Forestry Field Manuals, No. 4.
This manual offers guidelines for using Rapid Appraisal (RA) methods to gather information on tenure and natural resource management. It will not give a full introduction to RA methodology or tenure since there are already many documents available on those subjects. However, it will remind the reader of some of the most important features of the methodology. It will be assumed that (1) the reader is already familiar with RA and (2) the project for which the manual is being used needs certain information about tenure and natural resource management. The manual will suggest how RA techniques might be used to get the necessary information. The manual offers suggestions for activities that may prove useful in a tenure study. These must be mixed with the ideas and especially the good judgement of the user before they will produce results of any value. In any given situation, some of the suggestions may not be relevant or may not work. Even those which do seem useful will have to be adapted to the particular kind of study being undertaken and the specific working conditions. RA not only encourages but obliges the practitioner to be creative and resourceful. The guide addresses, in order, the principal steps in doing an RA study of tenure issues.

FAO. 1991. Guidelines for integrating nutrition concerns into forestry projects. Community Forestry Field Manuals, No. 3.
This manual has three purposes. First, it describes some of the linkages between forestry and nutrition to help foresters, together with nutritionists, orient their activities toward improving the nutrition situation in their project area. Second, it suggests an approach by which forestry activities can incorporate local peoples' nutrition and food security concerns. Third, it identifies some possible indicators for use in monitoring and evaluating the effects of forestry activities on nutritionally vulnerable groups and individuals. The manual is written for planners and managers. It suggests ways of addressing nutrition issues. It makes reference to practical examples, emphasizing the process of community participation in identifying problems and activities. Although different types of forestry projects might be classified with respect to their potential in relation to nutrition, this guide presupposes that all types of forestry projects can incorporate nutrition concerns by choosing the relevant steps and examples.

FAO. 1990. The community's toolbox: The idea, methods and tools for participatory assessment, monitoring and evaluation in community forestry. Community Forestry Field Manuals, No. 2.
Participatory Assessment, Monitoring and Evaluation (PAME) offers new and promising ideas for sustainable and appropriate community forestry development. PAME "flips" the traditional "top-down" development approach to a "bottom-up" approach which encourages, supports and strengthens communities' existing abilities to identify their own needs, set their own objectives, and monitor and evaluate them. The PAME approach focuses on the relationship between the beneficiaries and field staff and the beneficiaries and the community. It builds on two-way communication, clear messages, and a joint commitment to what "works" for the community. PAME is a combination of three interlinked parts: the 'idea', the 'methods' and the 'tools.' While it may not always be possible to adopt the whole PAME approach in every project, it is possible to experiment with some activities to see if PAME works.

FAO. 1990. Guidelines for planning, monitoring and evaluating cookstove programmes. Community Forestry Field Manuals, No. 1.
This publication has developed over time, with inputs from a large number of people. In October 1983, under the leadership of Marc de Montalembert, a meeting of experts who had ongoing stove programmes was organized in FAO, Rome. Participants were: Mrs. J. Ki-Zerbo (Upper Volta), Mr C.E. Estrada (Guatemala), Mrs. H. Navarathna (Sri Lanka), Mr. M. Kinyanjui (Kenya), Mr. A Sudjarwo (Indonesia), Mr. T. N. Bhattarai (Nepal), Mr. G. Madon (France), Mr. S. Joseph (Australia), Mr. F. Manibog (World Bank) and Mr. C. Nieuwvelt (The Netherlands). They discussed the issues which needed to be confronted when monitoring and evaluating stove programmes. This material was synthesized in a draft set of guidelines. This draft manual was distributed widely and was the basis for over 20 reported project evaluations. The same participants, together with other researchers and rural development specialists also attended The First International Meeting for Woodstove Dissemination held in Wolfheze, The Netherlandslater in 1983. The debates were lively but it was evident that they were often based more on sentiment and commitment than on tested results. Participants at the meeting emphasized the need for guidelines that could give comparable information while also helping stove project personnel manage their own programmes with more confidence.

The Earthbird Series provides colourful cartoon magazines that raise awareness among young people of the importance of forests, threats to forests and sustainable resource management. The magazines explore such issues as forest products, food security, nutrition and community-based natural resource management. The cartoon magazines are designed for use in schools and include teacher's notes that provide activities to reinforce the messages of the magazines, and to help teachers lead their students in exploring the issues raised in the magazines in the context of their own communities.

Crawford, J and Buck, L. 2001. Future Forests Teaching Guide. Earthbird Magazine, No 5. 48 pp.

Crawford, J and Buck, L. 2000. Future Forests. Earthbird Magazine, No. 5. 24 pp.

Crawford, J and Buck, L. 1993. Fabulous Forest Factories. Earthbird Magazine, No. 4. 20 pp.

Crawford, J and Buck, L. 1992. I am so hungry I could eat a tree. Earthbird Magazine, No. 3. 20 pp.

Crawford, J and Buck, L. 1992. Our Trees and Forests. Earthbird Magazine, No. 2. 20 pp.

Crawford, J and Buck, L. 1990. Food for the Future. Earthbird Magazine, No. 1. 16 pp.

last updated:  Wednesday, October 5, 2016