The search for sustainable methods of land use goes back to the 1950s when planned community development thrusts were introduced but later abandoned in the 1960s. In the late 1960s to early 1970s the concept of equity and participation re-emerged, to be buttressed a little later by the concept and approaches based on integrated rural development projects. This period was also dominated by campaigns to avert an impending fuelwood crisis in Africa. These projects promoted tree planting on-farm and reforestation of
degraded community forests on hilltops and areas of low agricultural potential.
In response to the outcry over the loss of tropical forests in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), many countries, with donor support, attempted in the 1970s and 1980s to bring more forests under state tenure and protection, and urged farmers to plant trees in their farms to relieve pressure from natural forests. Rural development initiatives focused on decentralisation, following recognition that centralised forest regimes, which exclude local knowledge and customary practices, were not achieving sustainable forest
management. During this time, the heightened concern about energy supplies, following the energy crisis in 1973, created an awareness of developing countries’ dependence on wood for cooking and other household needs. Increased investments were directed to development of improved charcoal and cooking stoves. Forest plantation programmes were intensified in many countries during this period, normally with donor support.