From its roots as a regional training center, RECOFTC has grown to become a leader in community forestry information, training, advocacy, and support in the Asia-Pacific region.
In the late 1970s, there was growing recognition that government-controlled forestry was failing in many countries. Forests were rapidly disappearing, and the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of forest-dependent people were under increasing threat. Through major events such as the 1978 World Forestry Congress, the call went out for community-based forest management approaches to help reach environmental and poverty-alleviation targets.
Over the next 10 years, community forestry spread to a growing number of communities in the Asia-Pacific region. However, it became clear that a lack of technical knowledge, skills, and effective approaches were hindering policy making and implementation for community forests.
In response, the Regional Community Forestry Training Center for Asia and the Pacific (RECOFTC) opened in Bangkok, Thailand, in March 1987. Major support came from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the Government of Switzerland (through the Asian Development Bank), and Thailand's Kasetsart University.
At first, RECOFTC operated as a Thai national institute to provide training on community forestry. It has since evolved to serve the needs of countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Training and other learning events are still central to our work, and we now complement these activities with on-the-ground projects, critical issue analysis, and strategic communication.
In 2009, the organization adopted the new name RECOFTC – The Center for People and Forests to reflect the broader work we do today.
RECOFTC established country program offices in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam in 2010. These four countries have made a commitment to scale up community forestry, and RECOFTC's enhanced on-the-ground presence will help ensure their commitments develop into tangible results.
During the past three decades, RECOFTC has trained more than 50,000 people from 20 countries in devolved forest management - from national policy makers to researchers and practitioners, right through to local forest users.