An Exciting Challenge in Southeast Asia: Four Model Forests

From May 21 to 26, China's Linan Model Forest, in Zheijiang Province, will host a project inception workshop to mark the beginning of a major effort to establish four model forests in Southeast Asia. The 2.5-year project, sponsored by the Government of Japan through a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Trust Fund (US$1.6 million), will bring the model forest concept to Thailand, China, Philippines, and Myanmar. The executing agent for the project is the FAO, under the leadership of Chief Technical Officer, Tang Hon Tat, from the FAO Bangkok office. 

The Trust Fund Project has been in development for almost 18 months. It was endorsed in principle last June during a meeting in Bangkok that brought together the four countries, FAO, the Japan Forestry Agency, and IMFNS for a three-day workshop to agree on project details. 

The overall objective of the project is to strengthen the national framework and capacity in the project countries to develop and implement national forest programmes and appropriate national forest policies for sustainable forest management and integrated land use. What this will mean in practice is that model forests will be established and used to put in place frameworks for stakeholder participation in planning and delivering program activities, compiling "best practices" guidelines for model forest areas, strengthening local-level institutional capacity to effectively manage the model forest territory, and working to make the model forest a national focal point that supports policy making. 

Starting-up four model forests simultaneously will be  a challenge; however, each national government has signed-on and has committed its support. The IMFNS will play an important role by providing support for the workshop and ongoing technical assistance throughout the project's delivery. This will include developing opportunities to link experts from these projects with colleagues throughout the network. 

Tour boats outside of Linan City, China

The Linan Model Forest, which has been in development for almost three years, is well-suited to host this event, having hosted a model forest development workshop in China in April 1999.

The workshop is being organized in collaboration with the Chinese State Forest Administration, the Chinese Academy of Forestry, the Japan Forestry Agency, the FAO and the IMFNS.