This year marks the 10th anniversary of the International Model Forest Network Secretariat (IMFNS) — time to not only to take stock of the Network as it has evolved over the years, but also to consider where the IMFN should go from here. That’s why, for the first time since 1999, the IMFN will meet to reflect on the Model Forest experience and plan strategic directions for its future.
40 sites, 19 countries, five continents
Much has changed since the 1999 meeting in Halifax: at that time the network counted 18 sites, 10 of which were in Canada. There was no Latin American Centre, no activities in Africa, India, Brazil, Costa Rica, or Indonesia, and no development in Europe. This time around we have 40 sites in existence or under development, across 19 countries, on five continents. With an aggregate landbase of more than 30-million hectares and nearly 1 000 partner organizations, the Model Forest approach can easily be considered the largest sustainable forest management (SFM) initiative in the world. And its impacts have been registered in virtually every aspect of SFM.
Partnerships to success
We are pleased to announce that CATIE, home to the Regional Model Forest Network for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC-Net), in Turrialba, Costa Rica, will host the 2005 International Model Forest Network Global Forum. In part, the meeting is meant to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the creation of the IMFN Secretariat at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Over the past decade, the IMFN Secretariat has worked to assist Model Forest development throughout the world. At the Global Forum, the IMFNS will launch its “Partnerships to Success in Sustainable Forest Management” publication which highlights the impacts of Model Forests over the past decade in the areas of governance, sustainable economic opportunity, forest-based science, conservation and protection, and networking.
As important as taking stock of what we have done and learned over the past decade is the opportunity that the Global Forum will offer for network members to look to the future. After a decade of growth, experimentation, and sharing of experiences, we have a unique global network of 40 landscapes with a shared approach to making concrete progress on SFM. That is a very powerful tool. But it’s a tool that we have to learn to use to its our full advantage. As well, the IMFN has grown strongly over the past years: how can we manage that growth effectively and ensure that the network remains strong and relevant? Built around the theme Networks and Networking: Current Practice and Future Directions in the IMFN,the Global Forum will look to engage more than 100 Model Forest practitioners on questions of how the Network can ensure that it remains an efficient conduit for the exchange of knowledge and know-how on SFM, where are the Network’s strategic niches and comparative advantages, what strategic partnerships should it be pursuing, and how can it continue to develop in ways that benefit the members of the IMFN?
Strengthening networking functions
In particular, the Global Forum will allow Network members to weigh-in on how to strengthen the networking function of the IMFN by:
Through the Global Forum we expect to gather ideas, strategies, and direction from network members to chart our course for the next decade by understanding what we have accomplished and also by understanding the opportunity that the Network represents.
Beyond forests: social sustainability and policy links
While many contributions have been made to traditional forest science through the Model Forest program, perhaps their most important ongoing contribution lies elsewhere. Not in traditional bio-physical sciences, but rather in the social science of sustainability: how people and communities manage themselves in relation to their physical environment has been one of the most difficult and neglected areas of sustainable management. Model Forests, through their partnerships, address this head-on.
By the late 1990s, it became clear that by working in voluntary partnerships, Model Forests were leading to reductions in conflict among stakeholders, new ideas on sustainable economic development and poverty alleviation, new thinking about the relationship between conservation areas and the communities in and around them, and more focused application of existing resources. In fact, the Model Forest approach was being used to address many more issues than originally conceived as local level partnerships throughout the world figured out for themselves how to translate the policies of SFM into practice.
Social sustainability and international policy linkages will be explored at the Global Forum through a poster session, where participants will network internally and share their experiences in these, and other, key areas.
We look forward to capitalizing on the experience, energy and enthusiasm being felt across the IMFN as we move into our second decade.