The Model Forest landscape approach: Innovative Territorial Governancewca2014-2495 Mariteuw Chimère Diaw 1Jean-Claude Njomkap 1,*Joachim Nguiebouri 1Julie Gagoe 1Gabriel Sarasin 1 1African Model Forests Network, Yaoundé, Cameroon
As a name, a brand and a practice, Model Forests are intriguing and counterintuitive. They are, in fact, an original concept and a unique platform of territorial governance that creates conditions for grassroots cross-sector integration tightly linked to progressive public policies. This is because:
Model Forests are not just about forests. Rather, they embrace all forms of land use and activities in a large landscape, such as agriculture, livestock, fisheries, mining, water, energy and health, as well as forests, whether natural or planter, rich or degraded. Even cities can be part of a Model Forest.
A Model Forest is not just a place. It is primarily a voluntary and inclusive partnership among all relevant actors, big and small, in order to ensure the sustainable development of the territory. The partners do this through joint activities, projects and programs of work.
A Model Forest is not a project; it is a life project. It is both an approach and a process by which the partners work together through dialogue, experimentation and innovation to find long term, cooperative solutions to their problems, and to give concrete shape to their aspirations. Each Model Forest is unique, but all are based on the same core principles (Partnership; Landscape; Sustainability; Governance; Program of work; and Networking).
A Model Forest belongs to the local partners; they set it up and run it. However, while autonomous and rooted in locally established priorities, a Model Forest is sponsored by its government to join the International Network. This global community of vision and practice has been gaining ground around the world over the last twenty years.
In Africa, the concept emerged from research on Adaptative Collaborative Management. Today, the Model Forests initiative is in its tenth year of development in Africa.