BACKGROUNDER - Regional Model Forest Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean (RMFC-LAC)

OCTOBER 15, 2002 - The establishment of the RMFC for Latin America and the Caribbean is the culmination of several regional consultations over the past 18 months aimed at consolidating a growing base of Model Forest activity within the region and to prepare the groundwork for further expansion. Over the next three-years, the RMFC-LAC will aim to increase the number of participating countries from three to six and to increase the number of Model Forests from five to eleven.

The RMFC-LAC will be hosted at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) country office in Santiago, Chile, under a joint agreement signed by the UNDP, the International Model Forest Network Secretariat (IMFNS), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Argentina, Canada, Chile, and the Dominican Republic. A small staff of four will operate under the direction of a Regional Board of Directors comprised of country and institutional partners.

The decision to establish a regional centre was made largely in view of strong indications of continued growth and expansion within Latin America and the Caribbean. "In the view of regional partners and the IMFNS", says Peter Besseau, Acting Executive Director IMFNS, "the RMFC-LAC represents a logical evolution away from a single global Secretariat based in Ottawa to a more efficient decentralized network that allows for stronger regional leadership on strategic, governance, programming and other issues. At the same time, it does not limit the IMFNS in any way from continuing to act as an important partner in support of regional Model Forest development. In fact, our expectation is that it will be substantially enhanced with the RMFC-LAC." The RMFC-LAC will act as a service provider and resource agency in support of national model forest programs. Additionally, the RMFC-LAC will co-ordinate network-wide initiatives in the region and will be the lead agency to coordinate expansion objectives.

The RMFC-LAC will begin with an initial three-year funding base of $US 1.8 million, with $US 1 million provided by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), $US 540,000 from countries and the remainder being contributed by country partners, the UNDP, and the FAO.

The International Model Forest Network (IMFN)

Launched in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio, the IMFN promotes multistakeholder co-operation to advance the management, conservation, and sustainable development of all forest resources in the world's major forest ecosystems. The primary goal of this international program is to increase the understanding and practice of sustainable forest management around the globe.

The IMFN program works with interested countries and institutions to establish a global network of model forests representing the major forest ecosystems of the world. Model Forests use locally based partnerships to develop locally relevant operational visions of sustainable forest management, along with the tools and processes to achieve it. In addition to being a physical space (usually a watershed or sub-watershed) a Model Forest is more importantly a process of focused stakeholder interaction in support of SFM governed by a set of six minimum defining attributes:

1. Based upon the principle of partnership;
2. Commitment to sustainability;
3. Large enough in size to include social, environmental, and economic aspects of SFM;
4. A governance structure that allows all stakeholders to participate meaningfully;
5. A programme of work reflective of stakeholder interests;
6. A commitment to sharing, exchange and networking.

Over the past decade, the Model Forest approach has been a highly effective tool, not only for technical aspects of SFM, but also in support of development. It does so by addressing essential human needs at a practical level in areas such as governance and civil society, poverty alleviation, sustainable livelihoods, and watershed protection - all within the context of healthy and sustainable forest ecosystems, and sustainable communities within them. The approach calls for the meaningful participation of indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups in discussion and decision-making about how forest resources are managed.

In its application, Model Forests are expected to create a functional link between SFM policy and practice with a view to accelerating the introduction of innovations and best practices to both. In this regard, Model Forests are highly cost-effective vehicles for the application of National Forest Programs.

The IMFN currently includes 19 Model Forests in 11 countries. These are in addition to the 11 sites that comprise the Canadian Model Forest Network. The IMFN Secretariat is housed at Canada's International Development Research Centre, and is supported by IDRC, CIDA, Natural Resource Canada/Canadian Forest Service, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT).

Please see the related backgrounder about the launch of RMFC-LAC. [http://www.idrc.ca/imfn/news/RMFC_E.html]

For more information, please contact:

Sr. Juan Carlos Collarte
Chairman, RMFC-LAC
JCCollarte@seguroagricola.com

Mr. Peter Besseau
Acting Executive Director
International Model Forest Network Secretariat
Pbesseau@idrc.ca
http://www.idrc.ca/imfn