Model Forests: territories for sustainable development

The region has about 28 examples of this Model Forest land use and tenure mosaic. The IAMFN plays a fundamental role

A Model Forest is a territory where the people are organized and they manage their forests and other natural resources together to pursue sustainable development. Model Forests contribute to achieving global objectives for poverty reduction, climate change, halting desertification and millennium goals.

In a Model Forest, forest resources are the starting point around which participatory processes are organized in a territory that also includes other ecosystems. Model Forests have a mosaic of land uses and tenancy, where the lives of their residents are combined with various activities, ranging from agriculture, livestock production, forestry, tourism and conservation.

Each Model Forest is unique in its characteristics, resources and mechanisms for participation, but it responds to/addresses six basic principles that allow them to ensure their impact and integration with other Model Forests of the world. More than 31 million hectares in 14 countries of Ibero-America are part of the 28 Model Forests in this region.

Stakeholders seek to advance sustainable land management of the territory in a collaborative and coordinated way, so there is a local leadership structure that coordinates actions on matters such as protected areas, biological corridors, forest management, sustainable agriculture, rural tourism, microcredit, organic production, watershed management, certified forests and more.

The Model Forest concept emerged in the 1990s, after the Government of Canada found an alternative to an ongoing conflict between forest concession companies and the communities living in forested areas for the management and use of natural resources. In Latin America the first Model Forest was Chiloé in southern Chile, founded in 1996.

The IAMFN: linking Ibero-America’s Model Forest

The Ibero-American Model Forest Network (IAMFN) links areas where initiatives are promoted for good forest and natural resource management. The IAMFN is one of six regional networks of the International Model Forest Network along with the Mediterranean, African, Asian, Circumboreal and Canadian Model Forest Networks.

The IAMFN is a voluntary partnership between Model Forests backed by governmental representatives from each member country, and it is adhered to the Secretariat of the International Model Forest Network (IMFNS).

It is the first regional, voluntary organization that groups 14 countries in Central and South America, the Caribbean and Spain to manage knowledge and exchange experiences about the Model Forests in Ibero-America.

The IAMFN has international support and it focuses its management on promoting good governance of natural resources, linking the territories to promote initiatives for the sustainable production and conservation of the natural resources and forests of the member countries.

Its strategic objectives can be summarized as: 


The IAMFN groups 14 countries of Central and South America, the Caribbean and Spain to manage knowledge and exchange experiences about the Model Forests in Ibero-America.

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Róger Villalobos
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