25-28 November 2013


Guilin, Guangxi Autonomous Region, China


There is increasing recognition that the sustainable management of forest landscapes is essential to mitigating climate change, reducing rural poverty and achieving food security. Even though the majority of the world’s forests are still publicly owned, an increasing share of forest resources is owned and/or managed by communities and smallholders. When local people are given clear, formal rights to manage forests and to obtain economic benefits from them, they have a vested interest in long-term management. However, often it is difficult for individual smallholders to realize the benefits from the management of forest resources because they cannot achieve economies of scale.

A collective approach gives individual forest producers strength in numbers and the chance to be agents of their own development. Throughout the world, smallholders benefit significantly from belonging to forest producer organizations or cooperatives. Membership in a well functioning producer organization can give them better access to markets, a stronger bargaining position, links to extension services or other support platforms and a voice in policy development. Forest producer organizations vary widely in size and institutional form. They may be informal groups, community user groups, tree grower’s associations, forest owner associations, cooperatives or companies.

While there are many cases of successful forest producer organizations, experience has shown that the success does not come automatically by forming an organization, but that certain enabling conditions need to be in place. Apart from secure tenure, which is a precondition, the organizational strength of such organization is crucial and so are networks and the existence of support services. The latter play an important role in strengthening organizations by linking them among each other, facilitating market access and providing technical and administrative support.

FAO has been supporting forest producer organizations for many years in collaboration with partners, through the “Forest Connect” Initiative and more recently through the Forest & Farm Facility (FFF). In 2012 FAO and its partners published “Strength in numbers: Effective forest producer organizations”. The document presents a set of current examples of forest producer organizations and aims to raise awareness and provoke discussion among service providers and policy makers for setting frameworks in which producer organizations can flourish.

This conference follows up on the issues raised in the publication. It will bring together representatives of forest producer organizations from around the world as well as service providers and government representatives to discuss the experiences of different types of forest producer organizations, the role of support platforms/services and the legal, policy and institutional environment required for successful producer organizations.

The conference is also part of the celebration of 300 years of the concept of sustainability. In 1713 this concept was first introduced by German Forester Von Carlowitz who described sustained yield forestry in his book “Sylvicultura oeconomica”. The Government of Germany has made funding available for this conference to help promote sustainable forest management, especially by smallholders.

China is a country that can offer important experiences related to the theme of the conference. In the past years China has carried out an extensive reform of the tenure of its collective forests. In the context of this reform, individual households received forest ownership and use rights to forest lands. The government has encouraged the development of forest farmer cooperatives and has established forest trade centers that provide support services to forest farmers. Hosting the conference provides an opportunity for China to share its experiences with the other international participants.


The main objective of the conference is to strengthen the sustainable management of forested landscapes by smallholders and communities through forest producer organizations.

More specifically, the conference participants will:

  • Share experiences with forest producer organizations and support platforms/services
  • Identify success factors and challenges for forest producer organizations and support platforms/services
  • Develop recommendations on strengthening the enabling environment for forest producer organizations and effective support platforms/services
  • Develop recommendations on increasing the effectiveness of forest producer organizations as mechanisms for enhancing the environmental, social and economic sustainability of forest management by smallholders.


  • Summary report of conference outcomes or conference statement;
  • Policy Brief on the creating an enabling environment for effective forest producer organizations and service platforms;
  • Analysis of best practices of forest producer organizations and their service providers, focusing on keys for success;
  • Synthesis document on improving the institutional enabling environment for forest-based producer organizations (based on cases).


Approximately 120 persons are expected to attend the conference. They include representatives of forest and farmer producer organizations and of service providers, government representatives, representatives of organizations and development partners providing support to forest and farmer producer organizations and international organizations. Simultaneous interpretation into Chinese, French and Spanish will be provided.


For each theme, there will be keynote presentations, voluntary papers highlighting specific issues, including case studies, and facilitated discussions.

Theme 1: The importance of forest producer organizations for economic development

Under this theme discussions will focus on the contributions of forest producer organizations to poverty reduction, livelihood improvement and economic development of smallholder forest owners and farmers.

Theme 2: Developing organizational strength of producer organizations

Different organizational models and factors for success will be discussed including leadership, membership, governance, service provision, financial sustainability and benefit sharing.

Theme 3: The enabling environment: the role of service providers

This theme will explore the functions of different types of service providers or support platforms and mechanisms for forest producer organizations at different levels (local, national, regional, international), their services and their effectiveness.

Theme 4: The enabling environment: the role of government

The theme will address issues of land and forest tenure and land use planning, policy, legal and regulatory frameworks and the need for cross-sectoral coordination.

Theme 5: The way forward

Based on lessons learned from past experiences this theme will explore ways to strengthen the effectiveness of forest producer organizations and their service providers.


The conference will be jointly organized by The Forest and Farm Facility, FAO, the German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV) and APFNet in partnership with Agricord, Tropenbos International, IUCN, IIED, CEPF and RECOFTC. It is hosted by the State Forestry Administration (SFA) of the People’s Republic of China. Funding for the conference is provided through the contributions of the organizers and partners.

For more information please contact:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">Sophie Grouwels
Forestry Officer
Forest and Farm Facility
Tel (39) - 06 570 55299

Jhony Zapata
Forestry Officer
Forest and Farm Facility
Tel.: (39) - 06 57053102

For local arrangement please contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Chen Lin
Program Officer
Institutional Development Division
APFNet Secretariat
Tel (8610) – 8415 9140


pdfAnnouncement230.83 KB10/09/2013, 17:26

pdfProvisional Agenda259.27 KB10/09/2013, 17:25

pdfConference Summary Statement463.55 KB

pdfConference Programme399.95 KB