FAO and RECOFTC strengthen forest tenure capacity in Asia

Bangkok, Thailand – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and RECOFTC – The Center for People and Forests trained 23 people from governments , civil societies  and academia from seven countries on the principles and tools needed for implementing FAO’s Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT). The training of trainers course (ToT) was held from 8-16 September 2014 and involved key actors who have mandate and responsibility to strengthen tenure and governance in the following countries: Cambodia, Lao PDR, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Viet Nam. 

Participants came from a wide range of organizations and were selected based on their roles in strengthening forest tenure systems in their respective countries to maximize post-training success.

A participant presenting his team’s analysis of forest tenure in Indonesia.

About the training course

The eight day course provided participants with an opportunity to unpack issues related to tenure and governance at international, regional and country level. Using the VGGT as starting point and building on the dynamic contexts of each country the course went deeper into principles, processes, tools and strategies to strengthen tenure and governance systems. It involved forest tenure analysis and assessment, participatory tenure appraisal, tenure governance assessment, development of action plan at country level, etc. Throughout the process, the course stimulated participants to identify challenges and opportunities based on their own experience and how they will apply tools and strategies at country level to enhance tenure and governance systems. Facilitated by experienced facilitators the process of sharing among peers and coupled with the introduction of new knowledge, tools and strategies enhanced the quality of learning, which was very much appreciated by participants.    

The training was highly participatory and interactive. The main goal was to enable a broad spectrum of participants to support and facilitate the process of strengthening tenure and governance systems. 

As part of the training, participants were given the opportunity to interact with local communities and apply the tenure assessment tools through the group exercise such as timeline and right mapping, resource mapping, problem analysis, stakeholder analysis, etc. A fieldtrip was organized to Kao Rao Thien Thong Community Forestry in Chi Nat Province of Thailand.

Participants interacted with the youth and women group during the field excursion.

Why strengthen forest tenure?

Most countries in Asia are struggling to address issues related to forest tenure. Inadequate regulatory frameworks and lack of institutional capacity are among major challenges. In recent decade, however, the role of forests in contributing to the improvement of livelihoods and income of rural communities has received greater attention. The systems of tenure define how people and communities gain access to land, forests and other resources. Without strengthening tenure and governance there is little hope for those communities to benefit from forests in the long term.

During the training it was revealed that national laws were outdated and no longer suited for responding to current realities. Moreover, workshop discussions pointed to conflicting and overlapping layers of the authorities governing forest tenure, further compounded by the complexities of forest tenure state laws and national policies.

Policies are often skewed to favor large agro-industrial concessions, forest conservation or protection disenfranchising local communities and displacing indigenous practices and customary land rights. Moreover, even where forest tenure rights have been granted to local villages, the governance of instituting reforms is very weak, and the regulatory framework is complex, which hinders the success of tenure reform processes.

Participants facilitating local villagers to analyze local forest tenure situation.

Off to a good start

Addressing knowledge gap and building institutional skills of key actors such as government, CSO and academia on how to implement the guidelines is crucial to ensure real impacts at national level.

“Before this training, I had no experience with forest tenure systems in my country,” said participant Lwin Lwin Naing (Ecosystem Conservation and Community Development Initiative) of Myanmar. “Now, I have a real understanding of forest governance and tenure systems, and I also learned how to facilitate participatory tenure analysis.”

The training produced an initial assessment of the status and progress of forest tenure and governance, and most importantly, action plans and in-country teams that will lead follow-up actions strengthen tenure and governance in their respective countries.  FAO and RECOFTC will support the implementation of the action plans and provide technical backstopping when required

About VGGT and the “Strengthening forest tenure systems and governance” training

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), through an inclusive multi-stakeholder process, developed the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT). The initiative is aimed at encouraging governments to promote secure tenure rights and equitable access to land, fisheries and forests as a means of eradicating hunger and poverty, supporting sustainable development and enhancing the environment. The guidelines were endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in 2012.

The training “Strengthening forest tenure systems and governance” was a joint effort of FAO and RECOFTC in Asia.

The facilitator guiding the participants on the learning journey design of the eight-day training.


News Type: