In 2003, the African Forest Research Network at the African Academy of Sciences, with the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, implemented a two year project on “Lessons Learnt on Sustainable Forest Management in Africa” funded by the Swedish International Development Agency, Sida. The resulting studies, analyses, programmes and projects, all of which support African leaders in the management of forests, evolved in 2007 to become the African Forest Forum.

The concept of an African Forest Forum was presented to and discussed at various fora as presented below:

There were ten resource people to these workshops, though not all participated in all. Making an allowance for this, the Forum was discussed by about 320 people in the forums indicated in the Figure above. Further, a discussion paper on the establishment of an African Forestry Forum (AFF) was circulated electronically to another 192 stakeholders of the sector for discussion. The Forum idea, Charter, Guidelines, its headquarters, among other issues, were discussed, between July 2006 and November 2007, by more than 500 people in workshops/meetings and electronically. There was an overwhelming support for the establishment of the Forum in the responses to the workshop and electronic consultations, as well as by the big number of members recruited in a very short period.

The Charter provided for the Steering Committee (SC) of the SFM II project to facilitate the establishment of the African Forest Forum. At its second meeting on January 25-26, 2007, the SC members, in their capacities as Founder Members of AFF, held their first meeting on January 26, 2007, and formally established the African Forest Forum, as provided for in the Charter.

The registration of the Forum in Kenya required re-working all the Charter and sections of the Guidelines into a Constitution to meet the NGO registration requirements. The two principal documents of the Forum are therefore the Constitution and Guidelines for Administration and Financial Operations. The AFF was registered as an independent, not–for profit international non-governmental organisation in Kenya on December 06, 2007.

The Constitution provided for the Founder Members to put in place the first Governing Council (GC) of the AFF, its Chair and Vice-Chair. The second meeting of the Founder Members was held on July 25, 2007 and nominated members to the GC of the Forum. The third meeting of Founder Members, held on October 15, 2007, nominated the Chair and Vice Chair and more members to the GC. The GC then met for the first time on October 15-16, 2007, and this marked the commencement of the operations of the Forum, as provided for in the Constitution. At this meeting, the GC appointed the first Executive Secretary of the Forum, and constituted the Executive Committee (EC), which met for the first time on October 16, 2007.