WHAT IS A MODEL FOREST?
A Model Forest best understood as a process for bringing a diverse partnership of individuals and groups together to realize a common vision of sustainable development in a large landscape.
Geographically, a Model Forest is a fully working landscape of forests, farms, protected areas, rivers and towns. As a concept, there’s an approach, Model Forests follow six broad principles that combine the social, environmental and economic needs of local communities with the long-term sustainability of large landscapes. In other words, a Model Forest is as much about the people who sustain themselves from the forested landscape and the effects they have on its resources and their human development as it is about trees and forest products.
The stakeholders 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 together to achieve the goals set out in that plan. In turn, the process nurtures a depth of trust and transparency, increasing the willingness to implement innovative solutions.
Importantly, Model Forests are designed to occupy the middle ground between policy and practice. They are living laboratories where governments and decision makers can test new policies or programs before scaling up to other areas, or where innovative practices developed within the partnership can be shared with decision makers for implementation beyond the Model Forest boundary. They are not a project, but aim to undertake projects.