Model Forests and Initiative 20x20

Post authored by Roger Villalobos, Programa Bosques, CATIE

The Model Forests are voluntary and intersectoral social platforms, where people and institutions are organized, make participatory decisions and integrate capacities to jointly manage the territory where they live, their natural resources and human development model. Within Initiative 20×20, the Model Forests are an important set of examples of landscape management experiences that achieve restoration.

The Model Forests are voluntary and intersectoral social platforms, where people and institutions are organized, make participatory decisions and integrate capacities to jointly manage the territory where they live, their natural resources and human development model. Model Forests are then about good governance for forest and landscapes. In Ibero-America there are 32 platforms distributed across 15 countries which make up the Ibero-American Model Forest Network (IAMFN). Its presidency and management are managed by the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE).

The Model Forests obey six fundamental principles:

  • Broad-based Partnership
  • Large Landscape Management Scale
  • Commitment to sustainability
  • Participatory governance
  • A Broad Program of Activities
  • Commitment to Knowledge Sharing, Capacity Building and Networking

The Model Forests coordinate and promote actions such as management of protected areas, biological corridors, watershed management, sustainable agriculture and livestock, rural tourism, sustainable forest management of timber and non-timber products, mitigation and adaptation to climate change projects, and others. Restoration of landscapes through multiple methods is one of the most relevant topics to Model Forests.

A wide variety of experiences in restoration exist within the Model Forests Network. As an example, we can refer the experience of the Asociación de Productores Agroforestales de Zambrana-Chacuey or Association of Agroforestry Producers of Zambrana-Chacuey, who have been restoring the landscape within the Colinas Bajas Model Forest, in the Dominican Republic, and managed to create alternative sources of income. The Model forest has then been recognized by FAO as an exemplary case of sustainable forest management.

Another successful restoration example has been consolidating in the territory of Chorotega Model Forest in Costa Rica. It involves the increase of forest cover across the territory, both through productive forest plantations and through enhanced coffee growing and cattle ranching, or through areas under restoration and conservation of natural ecosystems, such as the Monte Alto Reserve, a community effort to restore natural forest that feeds their water sources.

The Risaralda Model Forest in Colombia hosts excellent management processes examples such as shade grown coffee plantations, bamboo management and watershed management. Simultaneously, they are preparing to promote sustainable forest management by indigenous communities and projects involving the commercial exploitation of non-timber forest products, short-cycle wood, long-cycle and high valued timber, while all the while integrating an approach to sustainable agricultural production. Meanwhile, in the Model Forest Huayabamba Rio Abiseo in Peru, a REDD project is being implemented, while promoting improved community-managed cocoa plantations. The eco regional planning that has been done in the Chiquitano Model Forest in eastern Bolivia, through the Municipal Land Management Plans is of great interest as well.

Model Forests are living laboratories of restoration of ecosystems at large-scale, but, most importantly, of services to society, where the concepts of good governance for landscape management are put into practice. At present, the member initiatives to the Model Forests Network are preparing or executing restoration processes that contribute to the 1.6 million hectares and that integrate to the national plans and commitments within their strategies.

More information about the Latin-American Model Forests found at www.bosquesmodelo.net.