Halfway through its current Strategic Plan, RECOFTC – The Center for People and Forests invited an independent panel to review its progress against its strategic goals. This report captures some program highlights and challenges for growth.
|In Cambodia, RECOFTC plays a very powerful and useful role in providing a link between the Forest Administration at cantonment level and local NGOs and villagers to advance the legalization of Community Forestry. This synergy contributes considerably to the good results. Without RECOFTC there would be no activities.|
–Cambodian government official speaking to Review Panel, May 2011
The Center for People and Forests has emerged as a significant presence in community forestry in the Asia-Pacific region with the recent opening of country program offices in Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and of course, its home base in Thailand. Long established as a knowledge leader in community forestry with an active 20-year-old training program, the Center is increasingly undertaking operational activities in its six focal countries, which also include China and Lao People's Democratic Republic.
Halfway through its current Strategic Plan 2008–2013, the Center invited a panel of three independent experts from Australia, China, and Vietnam to carry out an in-depth review and assessment of its performance in light of its overall goals of:
- Building capacities of stakeholders at all levels for community forestry
- Promoting policies that enhance resource rights of local people
- Applying new knowledge so people and community forestry can respond effectively to change
This report gives an overview of the training, capacity building, projects, and program highlights during the review period, October 2008–April 2011, and notes some of the challenges that come with exponential growth.
Growing Portfolio of Projects and Services
The Center's portfolio currently includes some 41 projects and services, including large regional capacity-building projects for REDD+ and community forestry in Cambodia. Initiatives such as the Regional Conflict Study, the Responsible Asia Forestry and Trade program, and REDD-Net allow the Center to share global trends and issues concerning people and forests with national and local stakeholders in local languages. In turn, feedback from them and lessons learned are shared with global audiences at key international fora. The Center continues to engage with policy makers through expert consortia like the Forest Stewardship Council, Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission, and the ASEAN Social Forestry Network (ASFN).
The total value of community forestry work undertaken by the Center during the review period on an annual basis is US$26,667,733.
|Projects Oct. 2008-Sept. 2009||US$4,133,295|
|Projects Oct. 2009-Sept. 2010||US$4,318,502|
|Projects Oct. 2010-Apr. 2011||US$6,081,936|
|Core Oct. 2008-Apr. 2011||US$12,134,000|
The four country programs have opened new avenues for engagement with donors, partners, and government clients while allowing for a quicker response to emerging community forestry trends in countries. In particular in Cambodia, 2,000 trainees supported the development of 260 community forests, of which 53 have so far received legal tenure from the government. Indonesia also recognized its second forest village in Sulawesi during the review period.
Other projects demonstrating the ability of forest communities to respond effectively to a range of climate change, governance, conservation, and livelihood challenges are highlighted elsewhere on our website. In Thailand's Pred Nai village, for instance, the community has not only regenerated 1,920 hectares of degraded mangrove forest over the last 20 years, it has revived local fisheries, started eco-tourism, and is now piloting initiatives to deal with climate change.
Building Capacity for Community Forestry
|RECOFTC is a key strategic partner for the Asia region; they are trusted, and working with them is a sustainable way to build capacity.|
–Project partner responding to Review Panel, May 2011
Since its inception in 1987 as a regional training institution for forestry, the Center has trained more than 11,000 practitioners at all levels in community forestry. The organization's capacity-building program consists of formal training courses, learning events and networks, workshops, and study tours. The program seeks to enhance skills in its four thematic areas of people forest and climate change, conflict management, livelihoods and access to markets and expansion of community forestry.
Analytical work related to conflict management and climate change increasingly dominates the agenda with the latter having increased five-fold in 2009-2010 in response to international demand and a burgeoning projects portfolio.
Some 316 capacity-building activities reaching more than 8,500 clients from 26 countries have contributed to RECOFTC's reputation as a leading community forestry knowledge hub in the past two and half years.
Building Capacity for Community Forestry Oct 2008 - Sept 2011
An important aspect of the Center's work includes empirical research and field work followed by reviewing and synthesizing the results to constantly remain on the cutting edge of knowledge in community forestry. Much of this work is carried out in partnership with international, national, and subnational institutions, and the results are increasingly being translated into local languages for more meaningful outreach.
Number of Publications Doubles
The Center produced more than 166 analytical reports, briefs, media briefs, training manuals, and interactive bibliographies which were disseminated through its Information Center and online through the People and Forests E-News. Case studies from across the region feed into pilot initiatives including an interesting one on using timber for micro-finance collateral in Laos.
|RECOFTC has the ability to demonstrate the link between the environment (including climate change) and forest rights (and how to secure these rights) in a non-confrontational way. Not many other organizations can do this.|
–Donor speaking to Review Panel, May 2011
The Center continued to build on its relationship with its core donors, the Norwegian and Swedish aid agencies, Norad and Sida, with the European Commission coming in as a new project donor this year. Overall the Center raised US$25 million for community forestry in the review period, sharing half of it with partners.
The review panel lauded the tremendous growth in the Center's overall program and its financial health with project funding already overtaking core funds. It advised closer attention to the fledgling country programs, more time and emphasis on organizational learning, the need to increase and retain human resources, and the development of a monitoring and evaluation system that adequately reflects the outcomes of the Center's combined activities. These suggestions will form part of the planning for the next annual work plan in June 2011.