Model Forest FAQ

We’ve answered a few general questions below. For more detailed information about Model Forests, the Model Forest Toolkit is the best place to start. You can also contact us for support.

Each Model Forest’s governance structure is locally determined. It is based on the standards and norms of the organizations in its country, and on the social, cultural, economic and other values of its members. As with any organization, this structure contains two closely linked functions:

  1. Governance — The essential direction and resources that ensure the Model Forest meets its strategic directions
  2. Management — The program activities and support that work toward achieving the Model Forest’s strategic directions

Governance functions, usually filled by the board of directors, partnership committee or other governing body, include identification of strategic directions, resource development, financial accountability and leadership development. Management functions, generally delegated to staff, include administration and program planning and implementation.

For more details, see the Model Forest Development Guide and the Guide to Model Forest Governance in the Model Forest Toolkit.

A Model Forest does not have decision-making or management authority over the landscape or natural resources in its area. All authorities and management responsibilities remain with existing tenure holders, land owners, and land and resource managers. However, a Model Forest is designed to convene different stakeholders, encourage discussion and negotiation among them and provide a mechanism to access landscape level natural resource management decision making.  This access can influence resource use in several ways:

  1. Because a Model Forest’s stakeholder group includes all key resource users (government, industry, private owners, indigenous communities and others), they are participants in defining the Model Forest, its goals, and its administration.
  2. A Model Forest undertakes projects, research, and other activities on the landbase in collaboration and agreement with the major tenure holders. Therefore, the tenure holders are significant beneficiaries of a Model Forest’s work.
  3. Model Forest activity is relevant at a national policy level, although its influence may be indirect and long term. However, its activities and experiments help define applications in sustainable management within and beyond the Model Forest borders.

The IMFN Secretariat is not a grant-making institution and does not provide direct financial support to Model Forests. The IMFN Secretariat, based at Natural Resources Canada’s Canadian Forest Service in Ottawa, can work with Model Forests to seek funds for project activities, however, it does so in a supportive rather than lead role. On occasion, the IMFN Secretariat has acted as an executing agent on behalf of a grant-making agency. Model Forests are expected to be self-sustaining.

The cost of establishing and operating a Model Forest is highly variable. It depends on the existing physical, technical, and information infrastructure of a given region, as well as on the objectives and goals of the Model Forest strategic plan.

Some costs will be recurring, such as administration, participation in IMFN or regional Model Forest Network forums or meetings, information management and updating, and long-term projects (for example, monitoring indicators of sustainability over the long term).

Leveraging resources for the Model Forest is important. Model Forests have demonstrated that broad-based partnerships help identify and open up new resources for landscape management, such as facilities, data sets, professional services, access to policymakers and community leaders, and funding.

On average, establishing a functioning Model Forest takes approximately 1-2 years. There is no standard template for developing a Model Forest. The creativity of the stakeholders involved, as well as regional, cultural and other circumstances, will all influence the form and function of the Model Forest that is ultimately developed. While most processes have been led by a national government agency, in some areas, a different stakeholder has taken a leadership role in developing a Model Forest.

For more details, see the Model Forest Development Guide in the Model Forest Toolkit.

The Model Forest approach began at the height of a spirited and emotional debate over forest resource use and questions of sustainability. Today, there continue to be strong opinions across the natural resource management spectrum, and a need to focus these opinions to constructive ends. A positive by-product of the Model Forest has been its role in creating a respected forum and process to deal with conflict over resource use where no functional forum or process existed before. The Model Forest approach has shown itself valuable in providing neutral settings in which traditional antagonists can engage in constructive debate.

The work being done by Model Forests is directly related to several key conventions, processes and agreements, including:

  • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  • UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
  • UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including the Paris Agreement, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)
  • United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF)
  • National Forest Programs (NFPs)
  • Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+)
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