Southern African forest ecosystems (both natural and exotic) provide a wide range of economic, social and ecological services and are under threat from various causes, hence the need to implement sustainable forest management (SFM) practices. SFM calls for the use of the National Forest Programme (nfp) process to develop, implement and monitor nfps. The latter are a mutually agreed portfolio of forest sector initiatives, and the nfp approach focuses on the involvement of key stakeholders in the process. Several Southern African countries are participating in the nfp process through the NFP Facility housed by FAO. However, progress made in implementing nfp driven plans varies with country. The objective of this study was therefore to understand constraints and opportunities in implementing nfp processes and plans; to facilitate the sharing of lessons among countries; and to produce policy briefs that advocate for improved nfp implementation. This paper focuses on Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe and is based on literature reviews; visits undertaken to the three countries; and feedback from a regional workshop attended by key stakeholders from southern and eastern African countries. Conclusions and recommendations are made in the areas of national forest programmes; forestry sector legislative and institutional reforms; profile of the forestry sector; and forestry resource use.
The nfp process emphasizes inclusivity which has been achieved through support from the NFP Facility to study countries. The process has however been constrained by the absence of full time coordinating units within forestry departments; and lack of jurisdiction of the coordinating units and their multi-stakeholder committees over emerging global issues such as green economies and monitoring of nfp implementation. The following is therefore recommended: establishment of well-resourced and institutionalized nfp coordinating units within forestry departments; alignment of nfps with other national and regional planning processes; and design and implementation of a robust M&E tool that addresses both process and conservation impact delivery.