Our Vision and Mission

The Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC) envisions a future where the people of the Asia - Pacific region live equitably and sustainably, in and alongside thriving forests and healthy, resilient landscapes

Since our founding in 1987, this vision has provided The Center with a clear direction, acting as a stabilizing goal in RECOFTC’s  rapid world of change. The Center, however, is part of a larger history of community forestry. In the late 1970s, a growing consensus developed that recognized government - controlled forestry as inadequate. Following decades of centralized control and particular policies that focused on natural resource extraction, the Asia - Pacific region saw a rapid loss of forest cover along with a general decline in the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of forest - dependent people. This recognition was the first step in achieving our vision. Yet as community forestry progressed, it became clear that a lack of technical knowledge, skills, and effective approaches were hindering policy making and the implementation of community forests.

This regional understanding thus lead to the founding of the Regional Community Forestry Center for Asia and the Pacific (RECOFTC) by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Government of Switzerland (through the Asian Development Bank) and Kasetsart University, Thailand. Acting as a regional hub for training and research on Community Forestry, RECOFTC was led by Dr. Somsak Sukwong of Kasetsart University. Thirteen years later, RECOFTC - The Center for People and Forests was recognized as an autonomous international organization; an additional ten years after that, RECOFTC had expanded into regional countries such as Cambodia, Indonesia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Viet Nam.

In 2018, the organization adopted a new name: The Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC).

By reflecting the broader work the Center does, this name carries on the mission on which we were founded:

To enhance capacities for stronger rights, improved governance and fairer benefits for local people in sustainable forest landscapes in the Asia- Pacific region

To achieve this mission, The Center embraces a philosophy that remains anchored in lessons learned from the 30 years of implementation: local people are the best managers and stewards of forests and their landscapes. Thus, we follow four Guiding Principles that allow us to realize the full potential of our organization’s vision and mission.

  1. Clear and strong rights are essential
  2. Meaningful engagement between communities, the private sector and government is imperative
  3. Good governance is the bedrock for the development and implementation of ‘community friendly’ national forest policies, programmes, and regulatory frameworks.
  4. A fair share of benefits for local people is needed to help reduce poverty and motivate active participation in forest governance and sustainable management.