Since 1992, Model Forests around the world have created special and enduring partnerships with indigenous groups. Model Forest stakeholders recognize that without the involvement of indigenous partners, sustainable development of the landscape and local communities is unlikely to occur.
Collaborative partnerships with indigenous peoples not only encompasses the different perspectives traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) offers but can also result in innovative and unique governance structures that promote community conversation and action. In fact, more than 20 Model Forests have prominent indigenous participation such as representation on the Board of Directors.
Some examples of indigenous involvement in Model Forest activities include:
- The Prince Albert (Canada) and Vilhelmina (Sweden) Model Forests have been sharing knowledge on sustainable forest management and Aboriginal issues since 2003. Exchanges between Cree and Sámi youth were created as was a unique program that saw Elders’ TEK transferred to indigenous youth. Watch the video: http://youtu.be/BFnsgEEMGzc
- Within the Vilhelmina Model Forest, the Sámi people maintain traditional reindeer husbandry alongside industrial forestry. The Model Forest helped build a participatory GIS tool that has allowed the Sami to participate more fully in resource management on their lands. Watch the video: http://youtu.be/fEtZiNalniU
- One of the three founding partners of the Eastern Ontario Model Forest (Canada) is the Akwesasne First Nation. They brought a unique governance model the Model Forest embraced and continues to utilize in meetings and projects. Article: http://bit.ly/1nXobsI
- Indigenous and non-indigenous stakeholders in the Chiquitano Model Forest (Bolivia) initiated a participatory process to promote the creation of a protected area on municipal lands. The partners established a process to promote the sustainable use of natural resources, conserve biodiversity and implement community development programs. Watch the video: http://youtu.be/omiUL0PHLOk
- The Brokenhead Ojibway Nation and the Manitoba Model Forest (Canada) cooperated with the Cabécar communities within the Reventazón Model Forest (Costa Rica) to enhance their capacity to become involved in ethno-eco tourism. Training and education of Cabécar youth and women was undertaken to provide future project leadership. Local villages have seen increased revenue, reduced conflict over development plans, and greater community empowerment. For more information: http://bit.ly/1m5PGVG
- A particularly effective aspect of the African Model Forest Network’s recent work under the ‘Promoting Good Governance for Sustainable Forest Management in Cameroon’ project was the success in facilitating the participation of highly marginalized and excluded indigenous peoples in the consultation and visioning processes. Clarifying Model Forest processes contributed to the indigenous group’s ability to express their concerns regarding representation to the wider stakeholder group.
Indigenous participation in Model Forests has created stronger partnerships, more effective resource management and a deeper level of understanding amongst stakeholders about biodiversity and sustainability.