Community forestry enterprise (CFE) development is key to healthy people and forests

A key challenge for scaling up community forestry is how to make community forests economically viable. One way to overcome this challenge is to develop community forest enterprises (CSE) and help community forest products and services to reach markets. 

Unfortunately, experience in developing CFEs in the Asia-Pacific region is limited and there is little understanding of an entrepreneurial mindset among government officials, development workers or community organizations.

RECOFTC and FAO recognised this limitation and, in 2000, developed a Market Analysis and Development (MA&D) training package.

Last week, we held an MA&D training  in collaboration with and funded by the ASEAN-ROK Forest Cooperation (AFoCo) Landmark Program. Held over five and half days in a classroom and in the field, the aim of the training was to support and enhance the entrepreneurial capacities of local communities and increase their ability to access market opportunities and income. A key element of sustainable and productive community forestry is local people’s ability to earn an income from the forest. 

Prior to this training Tet Nay Tun, a range officer at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, Myanmar, said that he always encouraged local communities to conserve and protect forest resources, but that he had never really considered their livelihoods or their potential to be entrepreneurs. 

“I have developed facilitation skills to help local communities develop enterprises through using their resources sustainably”, says Tet Nay Tun.

In Myanmar Tet Tay Tun tells us that the Forest Department has been organizing capacity building training on CFE for government officials as well as local communities. 

He adds, “I can apply the skills and knowledge acquired from this training to help develop the capacity of my department colleagues and local communities. Moreover, I am currently working in the Community Forestry Unit, so I can also help community forest user groups (CFUGs) to develop enterprises using the facilitation skills from the training.”

Participants shared lessons from their work about how they have supported communities to develop CFEs. This cross pollination of ideas is one of the strengths of the training. 

Duangporn Aiamsamarng works as a Forestry Technical Officer at the Thai Royal Forestry Department. Duangporn believes that creativity is central to developing effective and productive CFEs. The MA&D training has helped her to think outside the box - “[the training has been]  very helpful to me, to change my attitudes and mindset”. Like Tet Tay Tun, Duangporn hopes to use the facilitation skills she has developed in her career, and to help her to look at forestry issues differently. 

Another participant, Mohamad Siarudin from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry in Indonesia,  intends to apply what he has learnt from the training to his own work in West Nusa Tenggara. Moreover, Siadrudin hopes to share his newly acquired knowledge and skills with relevant stakeholders in Indonesia, including communities, researchers, local government officials, and forest management unit authorities. 

Undoubtedly, this snowball effect amplifies the impact of RECOFTC trainings and transforms into positive outcomes for communities and forests across the Asia Pacific region. 

For more information on ASEAN-ROK Forest Cooperation (AFoCo) Landmark Program see here: http://www.afocosec.org/afoco/pc/en/activities/landmarkdetail.php?l=1&id=1

Read more about RECOFTC’s work on enhancing livelihoods and markets here: https://www.recoftc.org/basic-page/enhancing-livelihoods-and-markets