Part II: Community Forest Management Issues

Transforming public forest management systems to enable greater community involvement is a complex and long-term process. The legacy of a century of bureaucratic, private sector industrial dominance is established policies, procedures, and attitudes that often alienate and disempower rural people in their relationship to forest resources. Part II examines changes underway in many Asian nations that attempt to link governments and communities within the context of forest management. The discussions presented here highlight issues raised during the Asia Forest Network meeting's topical panels and sub-group deliberations. Meeting participants agreed that necessary elements for successful management transitions include enabling policies, supportive donor action, systematic agency reorientation, new communication channels, innovative tools for planning, and participatory decision-making processes. Not only do these elements need to be present, they require linkages that make them mutually reinforcing and informing. Government and donor strategies that guide management transitions must design and synchronize actions in ways that reflect capacities of forest departments, NGOs, communities and other stakeholder groups. Adopting a process perspective that identifies phases of change and transition points, using benchmarks and indicators to track progress and identify constraints, may help gauge a country's progress in decentralizing forest management.



In the past 10 years Asian government forestry organizations, often encouraged by development agencies, issued orders and created new community forestry programs. Social scientists, NGO activists, and lawyers sought new legal instruments that could extend formal rights and responsibilities to communities to manage public forest lands. The community forestry policy environment in Asia is currently a complex mix of precedent-setting projects, program guidelines, and government orders; a few countries have significantly changed their national forest laws. While most community forestry policy-related actions appear well-intentioned, they have generally had limited national impact. This results in part from inappropriate policy formulation and a failure to address implementation needs.

While enabling policies are an important component in empowering communities as partners in public forest lands management, they only support significant management transitions when linked with new tenure instruments, staff reorientation efforts and community extension programs. Policy failures can result from poor design, reflected in a lack of key elements, misplaced authority structures, and inappropriate financing. Policy design flaws are due to an inadequate understanding of the forces underlying deforestation. New policies are also adopted for political purposes, but can run counter to informal policies, attitudes, or procedures that support the status quo. Policies can also be unsuccessful because they are never actively implemented due to an absence of political will or lack of operational plans.

Part I of this report details evolving community forest policies in Asian countries. It indicates the growing prevalence of innovative programs and policy instruments which convey greater formal recognition to communities in managing public land. The emergence of community forest management (CFM) programs and policies in the region over the past one or two decades is significant in reversing a century-old trend toward greater state control. These new policies, while often highly tentative and limited in meaningful rights, are significant in sending a new message to government officials and forest department staff. New policies supporting land reform and local governance also indicate broader political support for decentralization and local empowerment.

Nepal and the Philippines, the first Asian nations to endorse community forest management policies in the mid-1970's, had to repeatedly revise their policies to make them more responsive to ground-level realities. Indian forest departments in states like West Bengal and Orissa, which were first to embark meaningfully toward joint forest management, have revised their policies two or three times over the past 8 years in response to field experience. Initial national and local JFM policies have been cautiously extending a limited range of rights to community groups. Government orders and resolutions are often restricted to degraded areas, lower value forest products, short or uncertain time frames, and they possess escape clauses for government agencies, providing little protection to communities under the law. JFM guidelines are often unnecessarily rigid and prescriptive regarding the structure, membership and responsibilities of community forest management organizations and their duties and ties to local government. Fortunately, planners appear to be learning from experience and adapting their policies and strategies. Some recent CFM policies include greater resource rights in the form of complete control over forest products, longer and clearer tenure periods, and stronger recourse to judicial power.


What's Working

What seems to be working in CFM policy making is the process of continuously reshaping policies in response to operational experience and field-level feedback. In India, NGOs are translating CFM policies into local languages and holding meetings with community forest protection groups to discuss and critique new policies and programs. Recommendations from such public fora are channeled back to forest department planners and are used in developing new policies. In the Philippines, the national working group visits sites around the country to hold meetings with community members, agency staff, and local government officials to identify constraints to CFM program implementation. Donor agencies, NGOs, and foresters in Nepal have interacted informally for years to push forward more progressive policy development. In Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, China, and Cambodia emphasis on farm forestry still dominates programs and policy orientation. However, researchers and development agencies are drawing attention to the importance of upland community resource management systems and are gaining experience through pilot programs, reflecting an earlier phase of policy transition.


What's Not Working

In most Asian countries, policy reforms must be driven by political leaders. Unfortunately, these individuals often have little understanding of field-level conditions or agency problems. As a consequence, they usually have limited capacity to develop effective policy strategies to respond to challenges presented by the public sector. In addition, few countries possess mechanisms to pool and synthesize existing experience and access community and professional knowledge to guide policy development. Finally, development agencies remain primarily concerned with their own assistance activities and generally fail to respond to broader sectoral needs. Inter-agency coordination is unusual and long-term cooperative strategy development is virtually unknown.


Key Policy Making Requirements



Since the late 1980's the timber and revenue generating orientation of many of Asia's forest agencies has slowly been giving way to a greater emphasis on community involvement in the production of non-timber forest products (NTFPs). These changes are significant because they may reflect a shift away from the Western commercial timber production models that have dominated the region for the past 50 years. Forestry professionals are recognizing the need to make management systems compatible with local forest use practices and indigenous institutions.

Professional forestry in many Asia nations was founded on 19th-century systems developed in Prussia for temperate forests. The "scientific forestry" introduced in India in the 1850's and later in other countries attempted to replace indigenous management practices, often displacing relatively stable relationships that forest dwellers enjoyed with the forests. After independence there was little change in forest policies and administrative practices. Most conflicts have arisen because of disputes between state foresters and local people over the right to forest lands and tree tenure. After several decades of social forestry programs, Asian forestry agencies are gaining familiarity with working cooperatively with communities. Political pressures are also pushing for greater decentralization of public forest management. While an increasing number of foresters see community collaboration as the fundamental public forest management system of the future, most forestry agencies are resistant to change. Meeting participants suggested some areas where benchmark indicators could be developed to monitor and inform forest agency transitions.


Benchmarks for Transition

While forest management transitions are underway in Asia, few benchmarks, or indicators, are available to measure progress in passing from state to community control of forest resources (see Figure 3). This transition can have three broad stages including: (1) an initial period allowing community involvement in protection of state forests, (2) communities entering into partnerships with the state in production management, and (3) communities gaining actual ownership of the resource with the state monitoring the overall use of the land. Meeting participants attempted to identify some basic parameters for benchmarks with the hope that foresters, social scientists, and institutional specialists will work on specific, measurable indicators of change in the future. Some of the broad indicators identified by the group were changes in the control over the resource, sustainability of transition, changes in the resource base, social and gender equity, organizational changes to reflect transition, and staff orientation of FDs (see Figure 4). The group felt the indicators should be kept simple for use by forest departments and local communities (FN 19). The following considerations were also discussed.


Figure 3 From State to Community: Transitions in Forest Control

Stage 1 - Protection

The state plays a dominant role by controlling the ownership and management of the resource. Community is entrusted with the protection of the forest in return for a share of the final benefits.

Stage 2 - Management

The state and community become partners in the management of the resource. The state continues to own the resource, but the final benefits are shared equally.

Stage 3 - Ownership

The community gains ownership of the resource, though not of the land. The state establishes the rules, monitors the implementation of these rules, and maintains some form of control.

Source: EmmanuaI D'Silva, "Why institutional reforms in forestry? Lesson from international experience," Natural Resources Forum, Vol, 21, No.1 New York, 1997.


Figure 4: Benchmarks for Transition





Changes in forest area under community protection

% of public forest under registered community management groups

Forest Department

Organizational changes

Ratio of FD staff to local community groups*
Staff redeployment to research and extension
Reduced hierarchy Specialists hired**
Staff gender ratio
Merit promotion system
FD-community conflict
Mediation system


Budgetary changes

Share of FD budget to local community forestry programs
Contribution by local community to forest management
Community influence over FD budgetary decision making


Staff orientation

Amount of staff training in community forestry Incentive structure for community management performance
Existence of upward communication channels for field staff input


* Ratio to FPCs (India), FUGs (Nepal)

** Example: community organizers, social scientists, experts in participatory training, etc.


Forest Department Staff Orientation

The process of reorienting FD staff has been slow and should be accelerated. Conventional attitudes and the scale of staff reorientation requirements presents barriers to the management transition. "It is not easy for 20,000 DENR personnel to change their traditional role as forest regulators overnight", despite the Philippines government's political commitment to change which states: "People first and the forests will follow" (FN 19). In Indonesia, the revenue orientation among the 50,000 staff of the State Forest Corporation (Perum Perhutani) remains, despite public support for community forestry. For India, retraining 150,000 FD staff is a gigantic enterprise, but it has begun, albeit modestly. Orissa reports that the reorientation is working. Four hundred foresters have been trained in behavioral skills, gender issues, and JIM; 15,000 villagers and local officials have attended amass training"; and strategic training plans are being drawn up for the state's forest officers to "develop a positive attitude towards people's participation." All four World Bank supported forestry projects in India have provisions for "institutional development studies" to encourage organizational reform and staff reorientation.

Nepal took a decisive step in reclassifying all forest officers as extensionists. However, the district forest officers are unable to cope with community pressure to register user groups. Some 10,000 applications for registration are pending because of staff shortages, which "highlights the need for capacity building and reorganization' within the FD to "accommodate new... demands that will be generated because of community forestry" (FN 20). In China and Vietnam, agency reorientation to giver greater emphasis to community forestry is unlikely at present due to state policies favoring privatization. However, Cambodia has shown interest in community participation and is experimenting with two projects in two provinces. Many forestry staff remain unconvinced of the benefits of community forestry to themselves and to their organization. Overcoming these psycho-logical constraints, is often more important than providing technical skills, and should be the main focus of future training. In India, the 150 years of colonial and "scientific forestry" traditions permeates the forestry establishment; this has inhibited community forestry from becoming the principal management paradigm. Within the forest departments, inadequate career opportunities for FD staff who work with communities, failure to promote by merit, inadequate female staff, a spirit of "insulation and isolation," limited financial support, and a bureaucratic inertia to change were all identified as internal constraints. Indicators and benchmarks are needed to plan strategies and monitor progress in removing these barriers and creating an environment that facilitates agency transitions.



Improving the effectiveness of development agency support programs requires the attention of all involved, including implementing agencies and "beneficiary groups". While development support agencies (who provide loans) and donors agencies (who give grants) have very different modes of operation, scales of activities, and responsibilities, both could benefit from greater participant review and integration of field learning. There is a need to internalize learning from mistakes and problems as well as from successes. Greater effectiveness requires that greater collective attention be given to project design experiences, indicators, evaluations and other learning. AFN meeting participants generally agreed that it was important for development agencies to view their forestry sector work as part of a broader social change process, rather than solely as time-bound, target-driven projects. National and regional fora are also needed to coordinate the activities of different development agencies and relate these initiatives to emerging national policies and international environmental strategies. Meeting participants identified a number of questions concerning the role of support agencies in enabling policy and operational changes.


Key Questions for Development Support Agencies


Ongoing Design Process

Development assistance agencies are increasingly aware of the need to shift from doing projects for communities to facilitating change within communities. This reorientation requires a broadening of the project concept, including who participates in their design. If donors are to support capacity building within government agencies and community institutions, they need to shift their performance criteria from quantitative outputs to more abstract indicators such as effectiveness in resolving problems, responsiveness, and adaptability. With a greater focus on process comes an acceptance of the need to integrate learning and sustain creative thinking beyond the design stage. By emphasizing adaptation throughout the life of an assistance project, it is more likely a project will be able to respond successfully to emerging problems.


Hardware to Software

In many nations the social forestry projects of the 1970's and 80's stressed investment in hardware comprising seedlings, nurseries, buildings, and vehicles. This approach implied a need for increased revenue from the plantations to justify investments. Community forestry strategies emerging in Asia are shifting the emphasis to natural ecosystem restoration by transferring the legal authority and institutional capacities to rural groups to protect natural forest, requiring a organizational reorientation of forestry departments. Investments in software, such as inservice training, forestry colleges, and community extension programs are urgently required.


Accountability to Communities and Implementing Agencies

Community forest management strategies require the active collaboration of development agencies as partners in facilitating long-term policy and operational changes affecting the public forest domain. Donor ability to work closely and responsively with implementing agencies maybe frustrate d by demands on project managers to respond to priorities and pressures from home governments. Senior administrators and politicians half a world away may demand proof of effectiveness, with little understanding of local contexts or long-term strategies developed collaboratively by do- nor project staff, implementing agency personnel, and community groups. In such contexts, project staff are faced with conforming to the program priorities of their home offices and demonstrating their effectiveness to their own administrators, rather than giving emphasis to what is valued by the beneficiary.


Sustaining Investment Impact

Greater attention is now being given to methods to build community management capabilities, allowing them to sustain activities beyond project support. This implies adopting strategies which identify and support local initiatives, ones that are responsive rather than directive. Past investments in social forestry plantations often disappeared when the fast-growing species were felled. New approaches emphasizing institution-building aspire to assist communities to establish or strengthen resource management systems that can sustain themselves indefinitely, ensuring the environmental functions of forests and watersheds while generating secure income flows. Such strategies are more likely to succeed if policies, local government, and communities are working in a coordinated manner. Development assistant agencies that wish to work with social change processes must reflect the time frames in which change is occurring, rather than adopting an arbitrary project period. Sustaining support through critical transitions may be more important than the volume of financing transferred.


Monitoring Implementation and Impact

Project indicators of success are often based on a quantitative accomplishment that does not reflect the quality of a program's impact. More thought needs to be given to criteria for defining success, and to participatory reviews with implementing agencies and community groups. The experience of the National Irrigation Administration in the Philippines indicates that engaging communities in monitoring program implementation can also increase efficiency. When user groups were obligated to match a proportion of project costs and given veto power over spending decisions, implementation costs came down substantially.


Learning Mechanisms

The lack of effective coordination and sharing of experience among donor agencies was identified as a significant problem at the Asia Forest Network meeting. New mechanisms are required that bring donor agencies together to discuss effective ways to program assistance and work with governments and NGOs. At the national and regional level there must be more detailed dialogue among donors regarding strategies supportive of forest management transitions. Many donors have not fully utilized lessons learned from social forestry programs and plantations they funded in the 1970's and 80's to more effectively redesign their strategies for the 1990's and beyond. Learning regarding what works well and what does not remains scattered among development assistance agencies, rather than being shared, synthesized and integrated into contemporary programming.

The need to reduce duplication and to build on one another's activities is obvious but not easily achieved without a growth in trust and concrete modes for collaboration. Better coordination among donors and governments to discuss national priorities would likely improve the effective-ness of support to the forestry sector. Greater involvement of government staff in development agency program design, through discussion fora and interactive processes, would also build a stronger sense of national ownership of projects.

Informal fora seem to work best, allowing open discussion of common issues and problems. In Nepal, where an active inter-agency forum has functioned for some time, meetings have progressed with greater information sharing and have led to collaborative action and even joint decisions concerning necessary directions for national policy. In the Philippines, working group visits to different sites provide opportunities to listen to communities, and to local and regional government staff perceptions about the effectiveness of new policies and programs. This process brings the group of donors and government officials to a closer understanding of the utility of current development strategies and constraints. This in turn allows for more rapid programmatic changes to be made to respond to local conditions and needs.



AFN meeting participants identified a number of fundamental political and economic conditions that undermine community involvement in forest management. Inequities in resource flows and authority delegation represent major obstacles to the transfer of management responsibilities to remote small forest-dependent groups.

Resource Flows

In most nations, development plans have relied on upland watersheds and forest lands to provide raw materials, taxes/fees, and hydropower to initiate and finance economic development in urban centers and prime lowland agricultural areas. National governments have tended to consider forest regions as vast banks of stored resources that can be successfully managed, owned and exploited or protected according to the requirements of the state. Forest-dependent communities have been largely viewed as a source of labor. In some countries, governments have even viewed them as transitory populations and have labelled them illegal occupants. Modes of public forest management have relied on larger private sector corporations and companies that are empowered through leasing and contractual agreements to exploit the resource to achieve economic goals. Regulatory mechanisms, however, have failed to ensure the sustainable use of public forests under private sector management. Administrative failures and political pressures have limited government ability to capture revenues from logging, reducing financing available for investment in the resource use. As a consequence, communities have been disempowered in their management role and have been left to stand by and watch their resource base rapidly exploited to benefit urban populations, while experiencing little reverse flow of development capital into their region (see Figure 5).


Forest and Mountain Areas

Lowland Agricultural Areas

Urban Industrial Centers

Tenure System

Public lands, state owns all resources -- Lease and license control for private sector companies

Private farms, Plantations, Titles

Landowner --private and corporate

Public Investments (per capita)

Water system, teacher, health worker, paths, footbridges

Irrigation system, electricity, rural road, school, doctor, meeting hall

Hospitals, colleges, government offices, sports facilities, mass transit, public housing

Commercial Investment

Food store

Market, mechanic, appliance repair, various stores

Supermakets, office complexes, banks

Individual Wealth

Livestock Cooking implements

TV, motorcycle, utility vehicles, title

Car, appliances, savings, house and titles


Urban-centered governments and commercial interests have established a resource flow that is inherently inequitable, with minimal investment from all sectors returning to upland watersheds and forest lands. Special projects that acknowledge the existence of communities in these state-ownedareas are channelled through government implementing agencies. The limited funds targeted for forest communities are largely absorbed to support the costs of forest departments and local government involvement, often with minimal resources actually reaching affected communities.

Ecologically, the downstream regions are now paying for this lack of real investments. Hydroelectric power and irrigation water shortages caused by reduced hydrological function, dam silting, and regular flooding of productive lowlands are providing a basis to re-think these inequities. While the attention of urban and lowland agricultural populations is increasingly drawn to upland changes and the need for better policies and programs to ensure that downstream environmental services are delivered, government response capacity is limited. Governments are constrained by limited financial resources, by limited capacity to deliver them effectively, and by a reluctance to acknowledge the management rights and roles that forest communities have played in the past and will need to play in the future. The ability of Asia's rural communities to mobilize and invest human and capital resources in sustainably productive forest and water management has, and continues to be, grossly undervalued. New processes and mechanisms for forming partnerships between government agencies and forest communities could unleash new resources and provide a framework for collaborative action. It will require, however, immense political will to overcome established attitudes, vested interests, and trends that support earlier images of forest and upland regions as targets for resource extraction. It will require not only a rebalancing of resource flows, but changes in the flow and allocation of authority.


Authority Flows

For centuries forest communities and upland hamlets in much of Asia remained relatively isolated from lowland government influence. Communities managed natural resources with authority generated by their own cultural traditions and membership. With the expansion of the nation state during the 19th and 20th centuries, community authority has been systematically eroded. In many countries, communities still have either no or inadequate legal authority to manage local forest lands. At the same time, the local governance possess limited ability to establish ground-level resource use controls. Government representatives frequently have difficulties getting out of their offices and talking with forest user groups. Re- mote communities also face immense problems in gaining representation within government decision-making processes.

A significant finding that emerged from the Asia Forest Network meeting was that while most countries in the region delegate governance authority down to the administrative village level, actual forest management practice often occurs among smaller, sub-village-level hamlets. Administrative villages are often arbitrary groupings of many smaller settlements. The larger, wealthier communities, often situated on the road, tend to control government projects and are the seat of administrative decision-making. In other words, formal authority stops at the end of the road where operational forest management begins (see Figure 6).

Community Institution (Ex.)

Sahi/Phalia, India
Sito, Philippines
Banjar/Kampung, Indonesia

Barangay, Philippines
Panchayat, India
Desa, Indonesia
Tambon, Thailand



Traditional leaders, school teachers, youth clubs

Elected officials, leaders of dominant social groups, small business men

Elected officials, military and private sector elite, industrial interests

Source if Authority

Community membership

District government

Central and municipal government


Volunteer community labor and contributions

Government projects and local revenue

Municipal taxes and central government programs

Where countries are devolving power to these administrative villages, such as Filipino barangay, Thai tambon, Indonesian desa dinas, or Indian gaon panchayat, the central government assumes that these administrative village leaders understand local forest needs and management priorities and will effectively reflect the interests of local user groups. Agencies and donors follow suit and assume that by working with these units they will represent the needs of primary forest dependents. Reports from the Philippines, Indonesia, Nepal, and India clearly challenge these assumptions. From a sociological perspective, administrative villages are often government-defined constructs dominated by the most powerful socio-economic groups within the cluster of communities. Larger villages, often with greater land and capital assets, capture the political structure and authority.

This leaves more remote, smaller forest communities marginalized. Forest communities maybe comprised of indigenous peoples in a process of retreat, with migrants from lowland cultural groups taking over the local economy and occupying political power centers in key villages and township. In such cases, government authority transfers to administrative villages may further undermine the authority of forest communities, generating rather than reducing conflict.

Primary forest dependents reside in or on the forest line in smaller marginalized settlements. They rely on informal institutions to provide leadership and decisions for collective action. Most interaction with the formally recognized village governance centers occurs through taxation, political elections, or trade. Few countries maintain information regarding the location and activities of hamlet-based forest communities. Government development funds tend to stop at the administrative village's political center. Forest hamlets are left with no authority, few assets, limited assistance, and larger, more powerful neighbors who are gaining authority through government policies and programs.

India and Nepal are developing participatory forest management policies that directly recognize and support forest user groups as managers. Forest user groups in Nepal are gaining new authority through contractual agreements directly with national forest agencies. Forest-dependent hamlets are also evolving new organizational structures, including federations and coordinating apex bodies to create new alliances and seek stronger political representation, especially when they share a common resource base. There remains a need for effective conflict resolution processes; representation and transparency will help ensure the long term relevance of these newly emerging institutions. New institutions are also vulnerable to being captured by local elites or losing their identification and function, causing them to operate more like NGOs and possibly losing their effectiveness in the process. Some of these organizations have collapsed after being drawn into political struggles, and ceasing to represent the needs of forest-dependent constituent communities.



Meeting participants agreed that there is a growing incidence of local community-based forest protection actions emerging throughout the Asia region. This process is often initiated within forest communities, both by traditional and by new leaders. Many communities are taking action because of concerns over deteriorating natural habitats and declining water, wood, food and other forest-generated resources. Forest protection and management is increasingly perceived as an essential task necessary to ensure the quality of life or even continued residence in the area. Severe deforestation can force communities to abandon ancestral homes, marginalizing them as landless migrants or urban slum dwellers. Community forest protection represents a positive adaptive social response to increasing population pressures on the resource base. An Asia-wide shift from looser, extensive systems of natural resource use and control to more intensified access controls will likely continue broadly throughout the region in the coming decades, driven by small, local resource user communities.

Panelists noted that many government planners and development agencies staff do not understand or accept the concept of community-based forest management as a broader process of social response to growing environmental problems. They retain the belief that communities must be provided incentives in the form of development project "carrots" to be motivated to participate in forestry activities. This perspective constrains government project designers from effectively supporting the internal social energy driving grassroots forest protection movements. Instead, planners are forced to rely on old development paradigms and projects, which re- main characterized by top-down decision making, rigid, time-bound operational plans, with project assets controlled and largely absorbed by implementing agencies.

While community forest initiatives are often driven by environmental concerns and begin with closure and protection strategies, many rural families also want to expand the availability of important forest products. Both government and nongovernment organizations must develop new capacities and mechanisms to provide communities with information, technologies, and capital to restore and improve the quality and productivity of their natural forests. Donor agencies and forest departments must support community-based forestry research experiments, train their staff to carry out technical extension, and create new means to channel micro-credit to small forest production systems. The long-term impact of development investments will be enhanced if benefits go to the users and small funds are allowed to grow and finance community development projects decided on by group members. Trust needs to be maintained through transparency and open accounts. Support is required to adequately build financial management skills and provide information on the larger environment so that the communities can take responsibility for the impact of their activities on the larger watershed.

The ascendance of new umbrella organizational structures for small, forest management groups received considerable attention during the meeting. In India these new federations are found in some western and eastern states. Apex organizations are also developing in parts of upland Thailand, the Philippines, Nepal, and other countries in the region. Participants indicated that these new institutions serve several important functions including facilitating coordination among small management units, mediating conflicts, and representing collective concerns and needs to government agencies. In the future, apex organizations may provide increasing support for forest product processing and marketing activities, as well as become a source for micro-credit. In regions were local government representatives are unresponsive to the needs of small forest user groups, apex organizations provide a new mechanism for social and political organizing.

The development of community forest management federations and apex organizations was reported to be constrained by a number of factors. Some forest department staff view them as threatening to their own authority and, as a consequence, federations are often ignored by state agencies. Without recognition by the forest department, apex organizations are not allowed to play important roles and develop new capacities. Where federations are successfully establishing themselves, they may be in danger of being hijacked by special interests, local elites, or outsiders, loosing their ability to represent the interests of their membership. Involvement in fiscal management can corrupt federation leaders.

Despite these dangers, federations and apex organizations can and are playing constructive roles in supporting forest user groups. Forestry agencies can further enhance the contribution of apex organizations by recognizing and establishing stronger links with them. NGOs can play a supportive catalytic role in assisting the development of user group federations and networks, by recognizing that these new bodies are not NGOs, and by helping them to define their unique activities. Both forest departments and NGOs can encourage apex bodies to retain a transparency of operations and resistance to domination by vested interests.

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