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Forest Connect
Iwokrama International Centre
"Forest-Linked Associations/Enterprises" -
Flexible Support to Local Small and Medium Enterprises
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About Forest Connect

Iwokrama has partnered with the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) in the UK to implement two projects in Guyana. These projects are to provide flexible support to local SMFEs through forest-linked association networks and reduce poverty by linking small forest enterprises with markets and service providers.

IIED is an international policy research institute, established in 1971, working for more sustainable and equitable global development. IIED works through a wide range of long standing relationships with partners in different countries. IIED currently manages major programmes of research on ‘Sharing power in the governance of natural resources’, ‘Regoverning markets: securing small producer participation’ and ‘Small and Medium Forest Enterprises’ – including four years of preceding collaborative work with country partners for the six countries in this study.


Project Name: ‘Forest-Linked Associations/Enterprises’ - Flexible Support to Local Small and Medium Enterprises.

This is being done through action learning together as equal partners – strengthening the institutional hub of an information network within Iwokrama and experimenting with innovative and flexible support mechanisms. The Centre is paying particular attention to the challenges of market integration, independence from party politics, and ethnic / gender tensions in the support provided. The gender dimension will be addressed both by selecting particular womens’ associations with whom to work – and by investing in better gender representation within mixed associations. See background to the project.

The content of support will aim to develop useful information networks, improve information flows, champion local sovereignty over forest resources, identify or provide administrative and technical training, strengthening deliberative democracy and policy engagement and build leadership capacity especially for minority and women’s groups.

Community enterprise communication networks can:

  • Connect actual producers, providers, cooperation agencies and NGOs
  • Enhance the visibility of the SMFE sector, service organizations and the coordination between them
  • Identify and communicate gaps in service provision
  • Strengthen service provision capacity through the creation of a communication network
  • Involve government from the beginning to enhance official buy-in

Manage the transition to a self-financing institutional model.


The Iwokrama International Centre is currently:

  • Establishing and publicising Iwokrama as an institutional hub for forest-linked associations/enterprises;
  • Producing an information network for forest-linked associations and their products, service providers and other support agencies
  • Engaging with target forest-linked associations to confirm priority needs and gathering details for publication on an internet database
  • Developing plans to respond to the gaps in support for forest-linked associations
  • Working with stakeholders including the government with a view to longer term sustainability.

Project Name: ‘Forest Connect’ - Reducing poverty by linking small forest enterprises with markets and service providers


The Iwokrama Centre are implementing the tasks listed below in order to contribute to the international project concept and project rationale. The overall objectives are (a) to increase the visibility of the SMFE sector within Guyana, (b) to increase the level of organisation and connectedness of ‘Forest Connect’ SMFE members and (c) to increase the viability of ‘Forest Connect’ members in the market. While every effort should be made to maximise the reach of ‘Forest Connect’ membership it is essential that the quality of service offered to ‘Forest Connect’ members takes precedence over numbers of members.

The project outputs:

  1. Refine criteria for the membership of the ‘Forest Connect’ information service / support network based around international criteria for fair and environmentally sustainable trade
  2. Develop a process for the induction of new members – which includes information on the ‘Forest Connect’ concept within Guyana, what it will deliver to members over what time frame, how progress will be monitored and reported (in line with point (vi) below and how a ‘brand’ identity for members might be developed.
  3. Develop a strategy for self assessment and selective monitoring of ‘Forest Connect’ members – including agreed participatory procedures for cancellation of membership.
  4. Establish a membership database for small and medium forest enterprises (SMFEs)
  5. Collect information on the main forest decision making processes in Guyana and develop a strategy for eliciting the key policy concerns of SMFE members and for enabling participatory representation by ‘Forest Connect’ members in forest decision making – especially in relation to any national forest programme.
  6. Collect information on the service providers relevant to SMFE producers within Guyana in four key areas:
    1. Administrative capacity
    2. Sustainable resource management
    3. Business planning
    4. Policy engagement
  7. Develop a strategy for collecting information on market trends for key products in association with the main producers associations and market councils
  8. Publish on the project webpage or other information platform the relevant elements of the membership database
  9. Publish on the project webpage or other information platform the contact details and key information on the service providers in the four areas identified in point (ix) above.
  10. Publish on the webpage or other information platform a series of news articles relating to market trends and innovations for the main product lines of interest to SMFE members.
  11. Identify gaps in service provision and prepare a strategy for addressing those gaps based on the existing institutional capabilities in country
  12. Develop a ‘Forest Connect’ feedback mechanism that (a) identifies what information is most relevant to ‘Forest Connect’ SMFE members (in forest decision making, service provision and market linkages); (b) captures that information in an accessible format; and (c) delivers that information to SMFE members in a timely fashion.

For more information on activities related to SMFE development, please visit:

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED): www.iied.org/NR/forestry/index.html

The Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE): www.catie.ac.cr/cecoeco

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO): www.fao.org/forestry/site/25491/en

The Interchurch Organization for Development Co-operation (ICCO): www.icco.nl

The Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) Collaborative Forest Management Web page:

For more information about the International Conference on Small and Medium
Forest Enterprise Development for Poverty Reduction:
Opportunities and Challenges in Globalizing Markets, held in Costa Rica, 23 to 25 May 2006, please visit
www.catie.ac.cr/econegociosforestales/conference  and www.fao.org/forestry/site/35689/en


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