Community Forest Handbook

Sustainable Community Forest Management:
A Practical Guide to FSC Group Certification for Smallholder Agroforests

With an estimated 558 million people managing 1 billion hectares of agroforests worldwide, TFT’s new guide to working with smallholder agroforest managers is aimed at empowering communities to successfully launch sustainable forest businesses. 

Empowering local communities and building capacity from the ground up

Simply written, with multiple illustration and graphics, the handbook is a comprehensive guide for non-profits, businesses, government agencies and community organizations who want to develop a FSC group certificate for smallholder agroforests. The handbook includes:

  • step-by-step guidance for many of the most common challenges smallholders face in developing a wood business and becoming certified
  • case studies, templates and simple tools and techniques that will be useful for readers who are just beginning a community agroforest program, or are in the early stages of development
  • key questions to ask, and best practices for building long-term community agroforest program
  • explanations of common technical forestry terms and easy to understand examples
  • appendices with sample documents and links to additional resources on the web

This handbook supports TFT’s mission to provide solutions to the issue of deforestation and the empowerment of forest-dependent communities.

Building on success, sharing lessons learned

Based on TFT experts’ seven years of experience working on the ground with smallholder agroforest communities in Southeast Asia, the authors present their approach and recommendations on how to develop programs that are based on collaboration and active participation of local communities and partners.   

 Comprehensive, pragmatic, realistic, and in an easy-to-use format, the Community Forest Handbook addresses what group managers need to know.

While the handbook aims to provide all of the tools for a smallholder group to become FSC certified, it also highlights how smallholder agroforest farmers can join together to develop viable forestry businesses.

We hope that this handbook will be a useful reference for communities and organizations with a similar mission to build capacity on the ground by giving communities the tools to provide responsible wood products to the world's markets.

You can download the full Community Forest Management handbook here or download each section separately by clicking on the following links:


Section 1: Introduction overview of group certification for smallholder   agroforest communities, and an introduction to the Forest Stewardship Council  


Section 2: Getting Started guidance on defining group goals and objectives, assessing initial program needs and developing an action plan.


Section 3: Group Management guidance on developing organization structure, how to develop group rules and procedures, and monitor membership.


Section 4: Forest Management how to develop a forest management plan, and chain of custody systems that will meet FSC’s guidelines.


Section 5: Business Management advice on budgeting, financial reporting and marketing strategies for a community forest enterprise.


Section 6: FSC Assessment and Group Expansion overview of the FSC certification process, advice how to prepare for your first FSC audit, and tips for expanding your smallholder agroforest group.



Funding and support for the handbook was provided by The Waterloo Foundation, whose environmental program promotes the development of practical, local approaches to protect tropical rain forests and improve the livelihoods and income levels of forest-dependent communities.

Handbook written by Robin Barr, Ann Busche, Michael Pescott, Agung Wiyono, Agus Eka Putera, Arlan Victor, Bahrun, Novi Fauzan, Sugeng Prantio and Untung Karnanto  (2012)