What is a Model Forest?

A Model Forest is both a geographic area and an approach to the sustainable management of landscapes and natural resources.

Geographically, a Model Forest must encompass a landbase large enough to represent all of the forest's uses and values. They are a fully working landscape of forests, farms, protected areas, rivers and towns.

The approach is based on flexible landscape and ecosystem management that combines the social, environmental and economic needs of local communities with the long-term sustainability of large landscapes. The approach links a comprehensive mix of stakeholders, natural resource users and land use sectors within a given landscape and helps create a common vision of sustainability and constructive dialogue involving all stakeholders. Those involved define what sustainability means in their own context, identify a common vision and set of goals, devise a governance structure and strategic plan, then work collaboratively to achieve the goals set out in that plan. In turn, the process nurtures a depth of trust and transparency and increases the willingness to implement innovative solutions.

Three aspects central to a Model Forest are a large landscape, broad partnerships and a commitment to sustainability:

  • Landscape: A large-scale biophysical area representing a broad range of forest values, including environmental, social, cultural and economic concerns
  • Partnership: A neutral forum that welcomes voluntary participation of representatives of stakeholder interests and values on the landscape
  • Sustainability: Stakeholders are committed to the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources and the forest-based landscape

For more information, please review the Principles and Attributes Framework of Model Forests.