World Rainforest Movement

The Initiative on Good Forest Governance in Asia: In Support of CBFM and Wider Processes

The seed for the initiative on Good Forest Governance (GFG) in Asia was planted at the Forest, Trees and People Program (FTPP) meeting held in Daman, Nepal, April 2000. Partners at that meeting recognized the need to involve civil society more actively in community-based forest management (CBFM), as well as the possible roles of a regional association to support this process.

Two years later, the GFG seed began to germinate with the support of a Ford Foundation grant to the Regional Community Forestry Training Centre for Asia and the Pacific (RECOFTC) aimed at testing:

* The feasibility of a GFG program with existing and new RECOFTC partners
* Whether a regional association or alliance to support GFG would be needed
* Whether the GFG initiative could be linked to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) process to gain mutual leverage

During the past months, a series of planning events in Thailand –coupled with GFG workshops and related events at the WSSD PrepCom IV in Bali and the Summit in Johannesburg– have led to the development of workplans, new partnerships, and the launching of an Asian Alliance for GFG.

GFG Framework and Objectives

The underpinning rationale, conceptual framework and possible functions of the GFG initiative were articulated in a draft position paper.(1)

The GFG framework (see below) has been adapted from the ‘governance map’ developed by Hobley and Shields (2) for analyzing and improving the relationships among key actors in CBFM– forest users, natural resource management (NRM) agencies and the political environment.

Through various consultations and refinements, the main objectives of the GFG initiative have evolved into the following:

1. To understand the practice of and factors contributing to good forest governance, and to serve as a clearinghouse for best practices, lessons learned, and other information relevant to GFG.

2. To support GFG initiatives at different levels in Asian countries, and to monitor the effects of wider political processes on forest governance.

3. To develop effective channels of communication to (a) enable forest users to increase their voice and impact, and (b) improve the relationships among a diverse group of stakeholders.

Networking and Information Support

In an effort to disseminate relevant information and stimulate discussion and interaction among those interested in Good Forest Governance and community-based forest management RECOFTC has set up the following communications channels:

* A web page devoted to the GFG initiative ( )
* A listserv for GFG partners ( )
* A listserv for members of the Global Caucus on CBFM, which emerged during PrepCom IV in Bali and now comprises nearly 200 people worldwide ( )

It is hoped that these channels, along with the WRM website and bulletin, will be used routinely and frequently by GFG and CBFM partners to promote networking, information sharing and peer support.

GFG Workplans

The various planning and workshop events have enabled the formulation of GFG country-level workplans by partners from Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. These represent a rich array of activities at the local and national levels, focusing on themes such as:

* developing and institutionalising arrangements for learning
* strengthening community forest user federations
* improving relationships among users, forest departments and policy makers
* sharing of field processes
* building capacity for GFG and CBFM
* contributing to policy development
* building upon decentralisation, devolution and democratisation processes

Together, these country activities provide a solid foundation upon which regional activities may be developed for greater synergy and complementarity. Four regional activities have emerged as priorities:

* Compiling and analysing national/local level assessments of GFG
* Developing criteria and indicators for GFG processes
* Forging regional/international linkages to leverage local processes
* Designing and testing GFG training

Next Steps

Partners emerged from Johannesburg with a shared vision and shared commitment to GFG. Among the next steps agreed to were the following:

1. Move ahead with local and national activities
For example, Nepal is implementing plans for a national workshop on GFG, development of criteria and indicators for GFG in Community Based Forest Management, and training of facilitators on user group formation with GFG principles.

2. Consolidate GFG work-plans, finalise terms of reference for interim working group and facilitator, and mobilise human resources to get things moving.

3. Focus on the passage of the Thai community forestry bill
This movement has greatly benefited from letters sent to the Thai Prime Minister from CBFM Global Caucus and WRM members.

4. Continue to link with the CBFM Global Caucus
For example, notable progress on identifying people and activities (e.g., protected areas) for the World Forestry Congress in Quebec in 2003.

5. Use GFG framework to analyse country situation and adapt as needed

RECOFTC has offered to host and support an interim secretariat for GFG during the initial two-year feasibility phase. Efforts are underway to mobilise:

* An interim working group to provide overall governance and guidance; and
* An interim facilitator who can assist the working group and interim secretariat.

By Chun K. Lai, RECOFTC, , e-mail:

(1) “Moving Towards Good Forest Governance in Asia and the Pacific: A Draft Position Paper Prepared as Part of Indonesian People’s Forum During PrepCom IV of WSSD to stimulate dialogue and interest in GFG.” RECOFTC, Bangkok, May 2002.
(2) Hobley, M. and Dermott Shield. 2000. “The Reality of Trying to Transform Structures and Processes: Forestry in Rural Livelihoods.” Working Paper 132. ODI, London.