Pioneering Chiloé Model Forest Diploma Program: A Valuable Tool for Implementing SFM

Pilot Training Initiative Enjoys Success

In the first two weeks of December 2003, the first Latin American Diploma in Participative Management of National Resources: The Chiloé Model Forest (ChMF) Experience was held on Chiloé Island in the far south of Chile.


A total of 19 model forest managers from Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Dominican Republic and Honduras, and officials from the Regional Model Forest Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean (RMFC-LAC), attended the course where the Chiloé Model Forest experience was shared with partner institutions being established in various countries.


The program, certified as a university credit course by Arcis Patagonia University and financed by the RMFC-LAC, the IMFNS, CIDA and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), took place in various locations, including: Chiloé National Park, the Centre for Education and Technology in Notuco-Chonchi, and the Castro campus of Arcis Patagonia University, as well as several field visits to projects throughout the province of Chiloé. 


‘Our experiences needed to be shared’


Through the joint offering of this diploma program, both the ChMF and the Arcis Patagonia University demonstrated the importance of building professional and community capacities that allow real social participation in the sustainable management of natural resources. 


“[Carrying out this academic activity is part of the] challenge of combining the will, resources and institutional capacities that the creation of the Chiloé Model Forest is based on,” said Santiago Elmúdesi, General Manager of the Chiloé Model Forest.


“The road travelled in six years of work is an experience that has provided opportunities to operate with an innovative model for rural SFM development while systematizing the lessons learned and identifying the challenges that must guide future endeavours.”


Sustainable human development


The 124 hours of class time included seminars, workshops and field visits. Topics explored included:


·           Sustainability and development

·           Institutional organization and the public-private relationship

·           Community participation

·           Organizational design of model forests

·           Programs and tools for action

·           Funding policy

·           Communications, research and publications

·           Practical experiences


A multidisciplinary team of professionals with up-to-the-minute knowledge of the various subjects relating to the participative management of natural resources formed part of the teaching staff.


“The quality of professors who gave the lectures and guided the discussion and fieldwork provided this program with a unique value in the integration of knowledge in the area of sustainable management of natural resources and the environment,” stated Carlos Venegas, Ph.D. in Agroecology and Academic Director of the diploma program.


One of the program’s high points was the lecture given by Dr. Andrés Yurjevic, who emphasized the significance of the Sustainable Human Development model, in which the responsibility, equity and social ethics of all stakeholders, and their involvement in local work, are essential to achieve sustainable human development in harmony with the ecosystem – a concept central to the model forest approach.


In his presentation he referred to the elements of community participation as experienced in various Latin American locations, stressing this type of development as a factor that enables, and will enable, the living conditions of the poorest to improve. 


Field visits key


Four days of field visits were included in the programming. Visits to community projects were considered important elements and included:


·           Links between the National Park and neighbouring communities

·           Non-timber use of the native forest

·           Experiences with sustainable tourism

·           Sustainable forest management for timber production


In the closing ceremony, Juan Carlos Collarte, Chairman of the RMFC-LAC, thanked the Chiloé Model Forest for its hard work, stating that the fieldwork performed dignified the mission.   


Washington Alvarado of the Alto Malleco Model Forest, representing the participants, stated that this experience provided a great challenge and sets the bar high for future tasks. He also said that the discussions and information provided by the program were undoubtedly tools that will make the path to SFM easier to achieve in their model forests.

For more information please contact IMFNS Senior Project Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, Rich Verbisky, at or Ruth Cornejo, Chiloé Model Forest,