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Community Forestry Management Trends in Southeast Asia
Regional Synthesis: 2001 - 2005


Generally speaking, Community Forest Management (CFM) refers to community-based activites which are geared towards the sustainable use of forest. This however, is an oversimplification as evidenced by the fact that the concept of CFM has been evolving over decades but until now, cannot be defined more precisely. This is due mainly to the various forms and contexts in which CFM is found. The complexity becomes even more apparent when one remembers that, apart from communities, NGOs, forestry departments, and donor agencies are all involved in the dynamics of forest management and all have significant impact on CFM with regards to its social, economic, and political aspects. Despite the lack of definition however, CFM stands as a logical guiding principle in the management of forests, and the history of community-managed forests supports this.

As mentioned, the various forms and contexts of CFM makes it difficult to define, but rather than struggling to capture the essence of CFM in a few words or sentences, it may be more worthwhile to understand these forms and contexts in terms of how CFM is practiced; this could then lead to a better appreciation of what CFM could achieve rather than what it is by definition. Presented below are some of the experiences and learnings garnered from AFN's first-hand interactions with different communities, NGOs, and forestry departments related to CFM in the five participating countries under the CMFSProject.

Through these case studies, some of the different forms that CFM may take, and some contexts in which it may be found are presented. These may be interpreted from various perspectives as well but the intention here is precisely to spark insight and encourage discussions from various perspectives which may lead to a better understanding of CFM, rather than a definition, especially at the Southeast Asian regional level. Hopefully, these discussions will lead to a discovery of opportunities for supporting efforts geared towards CFM in different locales. Although it would be interesting to draw parallels and differences among the presented CFM examples, such analysis is beyond the scope of the present text and still part of AFN's on-going effort to document, compile, and later analyze the learnings from its interactions and dialogue fora.


The annexed Country Situationers are outlined as follows:

  • Each of CFMSP's five participating countries is treated as a case, with discussions focusing on CFM contexts at the National and Local levels.
  • The National Context includes National Statistics on Forest and People, the Nature of CFM in that country, and the Policy and Implementation Environment for CFM.
  • The next section gives Local Community Forest Management Contexts by presenting specific areas which depict actual CFM and how it is implemented by the communities of those areas.
  • Finally, a list of Implementing Organizations and Partner Institutes that relate to CFM in that country is given.

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