Workshop on National Forest Funds-Morocco


Money is not all thing for everything but without it nothing is possible. This is also the case for forestry.

I am goint to Morocco (11-13 November 2015)  in order to participate a workshop organised jointly by FAO, GIZ and Moroccan High Commissariate for Water, Forest and Desertification.


The full name of the workshop is “Training course on national forest fundsCapacity-building for the creation or reform of a national forest fund,an innovative financial tool for sustainable forest management”

It will be my third  visit to Rabat.I was there at the beginning of 2015. Before going there I wrote “How is the structure in Morocco related to forests? After visit I wrote this article- 

For the upcoming workshop, I prepared this article.

ibelen-National Forest Funds-8 November 2015


From 9 to 11 November, 2015,”The National Forestry Fund Capacity Building Workshop” will be held in Rabat, Morocco. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Collaboration Partnership on Mediterranean Forests(CPMF), the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the Moroccan High Commissioner of  Water, Forestry and Combating Desertification is  the partners of this workshop.

The workshop will last three days. For the first two days, experts from Algeria, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey have been invited mainly from Division of Forestry, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Environment. A total of 30 people are expected to attend.  For the third day, it is expected to have senior invitees from these countries. One from forest administration and one from Ministry of Finance. It is overseen to have 40 participants for this last day.

During this workshop the following issues will be discussed:

  • Understanding the existing structure and experiences of the countries on national forest funds
  • Exchange of ideas on Sustainable Forest Management, its establishment and improvement.
  • Preparation of a national road map.

The last day is reserved for high level participants and it is expected to change the ideas between the top-level decision-makers and to have mutual development vision.

Preparations for the workshop will be done by FAO and GIZ experts, relevant material will be distributed to participants in advance. In this context, on behalf of GIZ; Luidwig Liagre and Reinhard Alexander Castle, on behalf of the FAO Rao Matta and Magadan Maire is responsible to follow the meeting.

In this article, “national forest fund” with a broad concept has been revised based on the experience and practice of Turkey.

Definition and Scope

Before entering the detail, it seems useful to give the definitions of “fund” and “national forest funds”.

Fund as the Money

“Fund” can be used in different meanings both in Turkish and English languages.  The word of “fund” is primarily used to refer a money allocated for special job. This money can come from different sources.

In Turkey there are several “funds” used by state. “Reforestation Fund” and “Forestry Villages Development Fund” could be seen as examples.

The resources and spending aims and activities of these funds are determined by laws and secondary legislations. For example, “Reforestation Fund” revenues were comprised of the following:

a)      From  “Forest Product Sales”  made by General Directorate of Forest

  • Six percent of sales revenues of General Directorate of Forests (6%)
  • One percent of special firewood sales and villagers market sales (1%)
  • Two percent of special sales to fiber and chip industry (2%)
  • Two percent of special sales to public agencies (2%)
  • Two percent of corporation income tax paid by General Directorate of Forestry to national budget (2%),
  • Three percent of sales made with auction (3%)

b)      One percent of project budget on settlements, road and installation in private forests

c)       Two percent of projects budget implemented in forestry areas as facilities etc.

d)      Five percent of the hiring amount for the facilities made in National Parks

e)      Revenues of return loans

However, in line with the recommendations of “The International Monetary Fund” in the year 2001, it has been made a new and important regulation for this fund with “Law on the Elimination of Certain Funds No: 4629”.  Under this law revenues have continued to be, but they have started to be transferred directly into the central budget. In other words, these funds have become another way to collect taxes in general. However, the necessary amount is directed to General Directorate of Forestry from National budget. With this law, it has been intended to have “single budget”.

If we give an example, the total budget of General Directorate of Forests at the beginning of  2015 was roughly 2,207 billion USD ( 1 USD=2,3253 TL)   The revenues come from Reforestation Fund is 79 million USD and the revenues from Forest Villagers Development Fund is 47 million USD.

2015 TL  USD* %
Total Consolidated budget of GDF-2015                  5.133.630.000 TL                                                                                         2.207.728.035
Revenues from Reforestation Fund                     185.000.000 TL                                                                                               79.559.627 3,6
Revenues from Forest Villages Development Funds                     110.000.000 TL                                                                                               47.305.724 2,1

*(At the rate of 31 December 2014, 1 USD=2,3253 TL)


As the conclusion, “funds” are not effective in Turkey for last 15 years with a meaning of money.  Funds are a part of tax collection.

Meanwhile Turkey has a different and well-established system regarding forest financing. It is also thought to be available for the MENA countries this system.

“Fund” as an organization and system

With a different and more important usages, “fund” refers to an “organization” like “International Monetary Fund”. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an organization of 188 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world. The IMF has a management team and 17 departments that carry out its country, policy, analytical, and technical work. One department is charged with managing the IMF’s resources[1]. Created in 1945, the IMF is governed by and accountable to the 188 countries that make up its near-global membership.

If we look at an example from Turkish side, “THE SAVINGS DEPOSIT INSURANCE FUND” is an organization with a huge number of employees[2]

As a result “fund” refers to money and also an organization or with a broad usage it refers to a system.

National Forests Fund According to FAO

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States describes the “national forest funds” as follows[3]:

  • National forest funds (NFFs) are dedicated financing mechanisms managed by public institutions designed to support the conservation and sustainable use of forest resources. They may be funded by earmarked taxes and other domestic forestry income and through bilateral or multilateral development assistance mechanisms, including donations.
  • Depending on the source of financing, NFFs usually exist for more than a single government budget cycle.
  • NFFs have many potential functions. They may support the implementation of specific forest-related goals and activities of government agencies, assist the capacity development efforts of non-governmental actors, and help implement schemes for the payment of environmental services, or co-finance private investments in forests.
  • As of 2014, 70 NFFs were operating globally and nine more were in the process of being established. The growing importance of NFFs is due partly to their potential to harness multiple sources of financing, and partly because they offer specialized management – such as flexibility, openness to innovation and focus on results – to support targeted forest investments.
  • Nevertheless, many NFFs have struggled to achieve financial sustainability, and some exist only on paper. In addition to funding challenges, some NFFs do not have clear, well-defined goals, and links between NFFs and national forest policies and programs are often weak.
  • The financing of SFM is becoming more complex with the emergence of various national and international financing mechanisms, such as those related to climate change adaptation and mitigation. The magnitude of funding is increasing, along with the complexity of accessing such resources.
  • Despite a growing need for institutional mechanisms to improve forest financing and its governance, there is limited information at the global level on how NFFs work and how to improve their design and operation.

Turkey’s Experiences on Forest Management-Forest Financing

With the line of above mentioned information, in this article, “fund” refers to whole system in Turkey’s forestry and covers all budget for forestry activities. The General Directorate of Forests is not the only one organization of Turkey dealing with forestry issues. There are two more General Directorate under the Ministry of Forests like GD of Combating Desertification and GD of Nature Protection and National Park but their budget are limited.

The forest area (22 million hectare) and forest cover of Turkey is not so high (27%) comparing to Northern Countries like Finland, Norway, Germany. But comparing to the MENA countries its forestry resources is relatively enough.

Furthermore the forestry sector as a whole is higher than its forest.  If we look at the situation in general we can observe these advantages.

  1. The foundation of the first forestry administration, General Directorate of Forestry (GDF), goes back to Ottoman Times, 1839. It is still alive and considered to be one of the most powerful state agency of Turkey.
  2. All of the forests belong to State, except a few area. They have been managed according to Forest Management Plans since several years. Also they have to be protect by the State. Harvesting and marketing of forest products, including non-wood forest products, are under the responsibility of GDF.
  3. Two articles of Turkish Constitution which has 177 articles in total, are related to forestry, forest villages (forestry dependent people) and cooperatives.  Likewise the Constitution there are several Laws related to forestry issues. Forest Code with Number 6831 is the most powerful and well known legislations of Turkey.
  4. Except a few periods, there has been always a Ministry responsible for Forestry issues in the Cabinet. It has been named as Ministry of Forests, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Ministry of Environment and Forest. The existing name of the Ministry is “Ministry of Forests and Water Affairs”. Recently Turkey has 22 Ministries at the Cabinet ruled by the Prime Minister.
  5. Forestry education is important in Turkey. Recently there 12 Forestry Faculties[4] mainly have three sections as Forest Engineering, Forest Industry Engineering (mainly for wood), and Landscape Engineering.  Some Faculties have more and different section like Wildlife Ecology and Management. Every year about 1000 Engineers are graduating from these Faculties. There is also some junior colleges for jobs other than Engineers.
  6. According to the official figures, nearly 7 million people live inside or close to forests. All forests belong to the State but these people have special and privilege rights on forests. So forestry organizations must work in close cooperation with them.
  7. Private sector related to forestry issues is pretty huge and powerful. The annual production of woody material is not enough for their demand and capacity. Thus they import the raw woody material mainly from Russia, Ukraine, some African and Balkan Countries. Pulp and paper sector also depends on import. Turkey also has nearly 10 thousands small-scale forestry enterprises which are very important for rural development. These are mainly based at villages and small towns and owned by families.
  8. There are several civil society organization dealing with forestry. Some of them have more than 100.000 members. Some of the NGOs  can be listed as follow;
    1. The TEMA Foundation (The Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion, for Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats)-
    2. The Chamber of Forest Engineer-
    3. ÖZ ORMAN-İŞ TRADE UNION-Forestry, Agriculture, Hunting and Fishing Workers –
    4. Central Union of Turkish Forestry Cooperatives (OR-KOOP)-
    5. The Foundation of the People Caring for Future-
    6. In Turkish culture, soil, forest, tree, wild life has special importance. (From Aşık Veysel, a minstrel of Turkish traditional music)

Of lovers I have had my share
Faithful no but ever so fair
The land has given me all I desire
My faithful lover is black soil

I ripped your stomach with shovel and hoes
I tore your face with tooth and nail
Still you welcomed me with a rose
My faithful lover is black soil

(Transleted by Fatma Ülkü Karataş)

  1. Turkey has been very active t international forestry arena. Especially for the last three decades Turkey hosted several important conferences like the World Forestry Congress(1997), UNFF (2013), UNCCD COP12 (2015), The costs of these organizations were more than 10 million USD per event. Turkey is also supporting the United Nations Agencies like FAO, UNDP and other. In June, 2014 , the Ministry of Forests and Water Affairs of Turkey and FAO signed an agreement with the total budget of 10 million USD. “This programme will allow us not only to look forward for projects here in Turkey but in the entire region including North of Africa,” said Graziano da Silva[5], The Director General of FAO.  After UNCCD COP12 held in Ankara, in October 2015, Turkey declared to host the “Coordination Unit of the Northern Mediterranean Countries for UNCCD ” in Istanbul and  the 5 million USD budget allocated for Ankara Declaration.
  2. Apart from Ministry of Forests and Water Affairs, several Ministries, agencies   and Civil Society Organizations are dealing with and supporting foreseer activities.
    1. Ministry of Development- responsible for approval of annual program
    2. Ministry of Finance- responsible for budget
    3. Ministry of Agriculture- Responsible for import and export of forestry products.
    4. Ministry of Energy- Most of the mining areas are in forests
    5. The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK)- Supporting forestry research
    6. Ministry of Education-High Education Council- Support 12 Forestry Faculties
    7. Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology: Has a special technical committee on forestry and support the industry including small-scale forestry enterprises.
    8. Turkish Grand National Assembly- Has special commission for forestry issues and responsible to approve all budget and Laws.
    9. The Union of Chamber and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey-  It is the umbrella organization of Turkey by law. It has several sectoral assemblies[6]. Some of them related to forestry can be listed as follow
      1. Turkish Agriculture Assembly
      2. Turkish Food Industry Assembly
      3. Turkish Forestry Products Assembly
      4. Turkish Furniture Products Assembly
      5. Turkish Mining Assembly
      6. Turkish Package Assembly
      7. Turkish Paper and Paper Products Industry Assembly
      8. Turkish Soil Industry Products Assembly



Forest financing is not only about the finance, budget or money. It requires a whole systems.  So; as the final word I kindly invite the esteemed  colleagues from this region to prepare a project including all relevant sector I tried to explain above.

National Forest Fund must include the whole sector. Money is not enough to explain.




Reviewed Materials

During the preparation of this article following publications, report and articles have been reviewed and personal experiences also included in a suitable manner.

  1. FAO, GIZ (2013), National Forest Funds
  3. FAO, 2011, Public sector forestry institutions in the Near East countries
  4. İ. Belen, 2 November 2015, Mediterranean Forestry, Silva Mediterranean Working on Desertification and Restoretion of Drylands-
  5. İ. Belen, 1 November 2015, Forest Europe Ministerial Conferences,
  6. İ. Belen, 30 October 2015, Mediterranean Forestry,
  7. İ. Belen, 26 October 2015, Greetings from history to the Future (Kyrgyzstan),
  8. İ. Belen, 12 October 2015, 2050 Vision for Forest and Forestry (the World Forestry Congress) ,
  9. İ. Belen, 8 October 2015, Recent International Developments on Forestry and Mountains,
  10. İ. Belen, 7 December 2015, The Regulation on Forest Products, Paper and Furniture,
  11. İ. Belen,  5 April 2015, Is there any untouched forest in the World?,
  12. İ, Belen, 31 May 2015, The Future We Want, Sustainable Development Goals, The New Constitution of the World,
  13. İ. Belen, 30 May 2015, 7 Million People-19 Billion Economic Size- 16 Billion Export,
  14. İ. Belen, 30 May 2015, The forestry regulations of Turkey must align with the World,
  15. İ. Belen, 1 April 2015, Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, G20 – UNCCD COP12 Forests and Desertification,
  16. İ. Belen, 21 March 2015, Forth Mediterranean Forest Week,
  17. İ. Belen, 10 February 2015, Conference of the Parties of Combating Desertification and Private Sector,
  18. İ. Belen, 1 February 2015, What does the forestry sector?
  19. İ. Belen, Hicham Mharzi Alaoui,  18 January 2015, How is the structure in Morocco related to forests?
  20. İ. Belen, P. Canlı, 26 December 2014, Turkish NGOs Dealing With Nature Protection,
  21. İ. Belen, 2 December 2014, Foresters Union of Turkish World
  22. İ. Belen, 2 December  2014, Mediterranean Model Forest Network,
  23. İ. Belen, 15 November 2014, Declaration of International Day of Forest,
  24. İ. Belen, 5 November 2014, Forests, Forestry Sector and Forestry Dependent People in Turkish Constitution
  25. İ. Belen, 26 October2014, Honey Forest,
  26. İ. Belen, S. Avcı, 25 October 2014, Increasing the Forest Product Sale,

About the Author

İsmail Belen, Forest Engineer-Public Management Expert, has been invited personally to this workshop with the title “President of the FAO’s Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions (Silva Mediterranea) by FAO and GIZ. He has been serving as the President of Silva Mediterranea since 2012.

He actively involved to establishment and development on Collaborative Partnership on Mediterranean Forests (CPMF). Previously he worked as the Vice-President of European Forestry Commission and UNECE Timber and Forestry Committee.

At the national level he has a 23 years’ experience. He graduated from the Faculty of Forestry in 1991. After working as an acting English teacher in a public high school about one year he started to work as Forest Chief (Forest Ranger) at the field.  Then he worked as Engineer, acting Division Director, Head of Department, Chief of the Cabinet of Minister, Deputy General Director of Forestry, Deputy General Director of Desertification and Erosion Division. Since August 28, 2015 he has been working as Senior Expert of Forests and Water Affairs at the General Directorate of Nature Protection and National Parks.

He is also the President of an NGO namely “The Foundation of the People Caring for Future-


Letters for Future