Wednesday Sept 9- 2015, Durban South Africa – In a side-event session, Peter Besseau, President of the International Model Forest Network, presented lessons from Model Forests around the globe. Over the past 23 years, these case studies, or sometimes
referred to living laboratories have given academics, practitioners and policymakers the opportunity to study, build and implement collaborative approaches and innovative solutions to natural resource management at the landscape level. Peter’s presentation, which drew on experiences from several Model Forests highlighted the benefits of a collaborative governance approach, such as the inclusion of a broad spectrum of actors in decision-making, increased transparency, use of traditional knowledge and a voluntary sharing of risks, benefits and responsibilities. However, this approach has not been without its challenges, for example collaborative governance can lead to co-optation, key-terms and expectations becoming ambiguous and retaining actors interest in the long-term can be difficult, threatening the sustainability of the model. Thus, Model Forests have learned that there are particular factors that help make collaborative landscape governance successful, including capacity-building, responsible resource managers, the management of competing interests and perhaps most importantly to understand that Model Forest governance is a process, not a project.
To demonstrate Model Forest impacts on governance and landscape management, Peter draws on impacts found within the 30 Ibero-American Model Forests in 15 countries (see diagrams) and closes his presentation by saying:
“Managing at a landscape scale is about more than projects or jobs: it is about making a fundamental change in our understanding of our individual and our collective impacts on the landscape; the trade-offs that we make in our decisions, and our ability to manage our impacts in light of this understanding: it is about culture change, changing the “business model”.