International Model Forest Network

For more than 20 years, the International Model Forest Network (IMFN) has been implementing a participatory, landscape-level approach to the sustainable management of natural resources. The Model Forest approach offers an effective and flexible process that creates broad partnerships and represents the environmental, social and economic forces at play on the landscape.

The IMFN includes more than 60 large scale landscapes in six regional networks covering 84 million hectares in 31 countries.

Within the IMFN, regional Model Forest networks were created to more effectively define, articulate and manage regional programs of work by those who know the area best. Current regional networks include:

  • African Model Forest Network
  • Baltic Landscape Network (Northern Europe and Russia)
  • Canadian Model Forest Network
  • Ibero-American Model Forest Network
  • Mediterranean Model Forest Network
  • Regional Model Forest Network, Asia

Our Vision

To support the sustainable management of the natural resources through a participatory, landscape-level approach that reflects environmental and socio-economic issues from the perspectives of local needs and global concerns.

Our Mission and Objectives

The primary mission of the IMFN is to establish a global network that represents most of the major forest ecosystems of the world and promotes participatory, landscape-level sustainable resource management. The IMFN strives to ensure that all partners, regardless of political or economic status, can contribute to and share in the benefits of the Network. Key objectives are:

  1. To foster international exchange of ideas and solutions for the sustainable management of natural resources in forested landscapes
  2. To support cooperation on critical issues that underlie new solutions to sustainable landscape and natural resource management
  3. To support ongoing international policy discussions on the criteria and principles of sustainable natural resource management and development

IMFN Charter

IMFN Secretariat

In 1995, the International Model Forest Network Secretariat (IMFNS) was established.

The Secretariat provides central day-to-day coordination of support and development services to the Network and works to strengthen and expand the Network. Specific areas of attention include:

  • Provision of technical and logistical support for the establishment and operation of Model Forests
  • Assistance in resource mobilization
  • International communications, networking and knowledge management/sharing
  • Partnership development and capacity-building
  • Documentation, monitoring and evaluation

History of the IMFN

The Model Forest approach was first developed and implemented by the Government of Canada in the early 1990s in 10 sites across the country. It was a response to a period of intense conflict in Canada’s forest sector at a time when environmentalists, governments, indigenous peoples, communities and forest workers were struggling over forest resources and how to manage them in a sustainable manner. The approach showed immediate promise as people came to the table to find common solutions to the issues they faced, including logging practices, biodiversity conservation and economic stability among others.

The development of an International Model Forest Network was announced by Canada’s prime minister at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. From the beginning, Model Forests promoted the idea of forming partnerships to provide a neutral forum where a range of values and interests could be represented, and where a desire to experiment with new ideas under a common goal of sustainable development could occur. Each site was intended to be a “model” from which others could learn and advance their sustainability goals.