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Research Report

Facilitating forests of learning: Enabling an adaptive collaborative approach in community forest user groups A guidebook

Cynthia McDougall
Bishnu Hari Pandit
Mani Ram Banjade
Krishna Prasad Paudel
Hemant Ojha
Manik Maharjan
Sushila Rana
Tara Bhattarai
Sushma Dangol
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2009
Pages: 236
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. v-v)
    Keshav Raj Kanel

    As of August 2008, community forestry programmes have been operating in all but one of the 75 districts of Nepal, with the involvement of approximately 39 percent of the country’s households. Nepal’s community forest user groups (CFUGs) have nearly 1.65 million household members; these CFUGs manage about 1.22 million ha of forest, or nearly 25 percent of the country’s total forestland (DoF 2008).

    Many of these community-managed forests need innovation in forest management systems and practices to meet local and national goals: innovation that enables diverse stakeholders to bridge the gaps that so often divide them, and innovation that creates...

  2. PART I: Key concepts

    • (pp. 3-6)

      This guidebook is intended to support community forest user groups (CFUGs) in making their governance and management processes, practices and outcomes more successful and equitable. As such it is part of the growing response to the challenges of equity and livelihoods, which have gained wide recognition over the past several years.

      Despite community forestry’s contributions, achievements, and opportunities … there are many unresolved issues and challenges in community forestry, in all areas of capital as well as governance. Perhaps the most critical is in terms of livelihoods and the relatively weak generation of financial capital for the forest dependent poor....

    • (pp. 7-18)

      In this chapter we explore the concepts, principles and practice of an adaptive collaborative approach, including enabling processes and arrangements. We conclude with a visual snapshot and case example of the approach in action.

      The adaptive collaborative approach can be understood as having two main components: active co-learning and collaboration. The concept of ‘active co-learning’ emerges from awareness that CFUGs are continually confronted with diverse actors’ demands, face uncertainties in knowledge, and must adapt plans and practices to changing environments, policies, risks and opportunities. Forest actors can enhance their adaptive capacity by using ongoing learning as the basis for decision...

    • (pp. 19-24)

      We suggest that facilitators work in teams, with members from both within the CFUG and from the meso (rangepost or district) level.

      Working in teams rather than as individuals can offer great advantages. In effective teams, members pool their depth and breadth of skills and knowledge, more easily earn the respect of CFUG subgroups, share responsibilities, and provide mutual support. In our experience, teams with facilitators from both CFUGs and meso-level organisations are particularly effective: the partnership offers a synergy between in-depth local knowledge and an outside perspective with links to potential collaborating institutions.

      Facilitators from the meso level may...

  3. PART II: Stages and steps for facilitating the approach

    • (pp. 27-30)

      The suggested steps for facilitating the approach are divided into four stages:

      laying the groundwork (Stage One);

      sparking the transition in overall CFUG (annual) planning (Stage Two);

      applying the approach in undertaking specific activities (Stage Three); and,

      institutionalising and continuing the approach (Stage Four).

      Stages One and Two are about starting and making the transition to an adaptive collaborative approach. As such, a CFUG will only move fully through Stages One and Two of the guidebook one time (i.e., during its transition to the approach). By the time it has completed those two stages, the CFUG will have used the...

    • (pp. 31-48)

      To create a facilitation team that is agreeable to the CFUG.

      To check and develop facilitation skills.

      To generate shared understanding in the CFUG and facilitation team about the current situation.

      To build agreement about goals and expectations for facilitation and the adaptive collaborative approach.

      The facilitation team needs to create a positive environment that will engage diverse actors, particularly women and other members typically marginalised, in CFUG decision making. This groundwork includes the following.

      Forming a diverse and appropriate facilitation team and making sure that everyone has the skills to take on their roles and responsibilities.

      Building agreement on...

    • (pp. 49-108)

      To develop a common understanding of, and appreciation for, the potential value of collaboration and active co-learning.

      To create a shared vision for the CFUG.

      To develop a learning-based self-monitoring system as the foundation of annual planning.

      To assess the current situation using the self-monitoring system.

      To draft a set of priorities and action plans based on the assessment.

      This stage is the transition to an adaptive collaborative approach—sparking learning, connecting, visioning and self-monitoring as the basis for CFUG governance and management. We suggest catalysing the transition through a 5-day workshop. Alternatively, you could spark the transition by adapting the...

    • (pp. 109-144)

      To undertake the specific planning and implementation of each CFUG activity using an adaptive collaborative approach.

      This stage addresses the ‘activity level’, which is the decision making about—and within—a specific management action or governance innovation (Box 8). This ‘micro’ level is distinct from, but fits inside, the overall CFUG planning that was the focus of Stage 2. Figure 7 shows how the activity level fits into the adaptive collaborative approach, as little ‘loops’ of action planning within the larger CFUG annual planning loop.

      The innovations and actions emerge from the CFUG annual planning process, as described in Stage 2. In...

    • (pp. 145-162)

      To prepare for the next cycle of CFUG self-monitoring by gathering the necessary information.

      To institutionalise an adaptive collaborative approach and continue it into the future.

      Stages One and Two laid the foundation for the overall CFUG planning cycle to use an adaptive collaborative approach. These stages identified priority issues and activities for the CFUG. In Stage Three, small action groups applied the approach in designing and implementing each specific activity. Stage Four moves back up to the whole CFUG level for the next steps: gathering information for, and applying, the CFUG self-monitoring system to reassess overall CFUG progress and...

  4. PART III: Annexes