SW Community Forestry Caucus


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"While direct benefits may sometimes be hard to identify or describe, there is always some growth resulting from associating with others in a similar pursuit. I personally believe that learning about others with the intention of collaboration is far better than finding weaknesses in order to compete."

-Gordon West, Gila WoodNet, Silver City , NM

I believe collaboration is really working out the details together and jointly sharing responsibility.

-Brian Cottam, former coordinator Greater Flagstaff Forest Partnership, March, 2004

The process of collaboration is one of the more challenging aspects of community-based or restoration forestry. While everyone believes collaboration is essential to ultimate success in maintaining partnerships and building a stewardship program, it is based on a number of capacities that are sometimes in short supply. Those capacities are openness, trust, relationship building, and an attitude of cooperation. Maintaining these capacities requires attitudes and skills that have often been diminished by years of conflict, continued project delays, last minute appeals, and growing impatience with the looming crisis in the woods.

Steve Yaddoff, US Forest Service, updating participants on congressional budget process during the 2003 annual meeting.

Collaboration is continuous. It can't be accomplished in a moment and then forgotten. Collaboration is about on-going learning, understanding different perspectives, finding enough common ground to keep the partnership moving forward. Consistent dialogue and working side by side appears to build relationships among folks that pay worthwhile dividends. But one or two bad experiences can cause people to come to the opposite conclusion.

Willingness and understanding are evidence of the capacity to collaborate and progress. Developing new relationships is a measurable category that should be considered in assessing the ability of organizations to grow and succeed.




Lessons Learned

Long-standing social relationships, which facilitate cooperative action, are one of the truest measures of collaboration. In this sense collaboration continually builds community capacity for future problem solving, not matter what the nature of the issue or concern to be resolved.

The nature and structure of community-forestry partnerships are very diverse. How they are organized is often a reflection of the immediate community situation and history. What matters most is that they present the authentic values of the community about forest resources and stewardship.

We cannot expect that community partnerships based on collaboration among diverse community members, organizations, and interests will always be successful. Reasonable and clear expectations about the outcomes of collaboration are a necessary part of the process, and these expectations need to continually be clarified and nurtured, both internally and externally.

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