The transfer of communal forests and pasture lands to the communes and municipalities changes in a fundamental manner, the management arrangements and management focus for these areas. The arrangement provides management authority and responsibilities to the Local Government Units, bringing these forests and pastures into the management and accountability structures of local government units (communes). Although the situation does not yet provide for ownership rights to individual forest and pasture users, this decentralisation of authority is expected to provide for greater recognition and respect more fully, the rights of the primary stakeholders, the traditional forest families as local custodians of the resource. However, this is not assured and as such, economic activities from traditional areas of communal forests and pastures without official sanction are effectively illegal.
The overall objective of the project “Strengthening Sustainable Communal Forestry” was Economic, social, environmental sustainable development for communal forest and pasture dependant rural poor in Albania and the purpose was to achieve improved decentralised management of forest & pasture resources in support of locally inclusive economic development through strengthening capacity development of civil society and local government organisations, building institutional linkages for sustainable communal forestry.
The key target groups and organisations included: the regional federations of communal forest and pasture users; the National Association; various local government staff within identified Communes; associated staff of the District Forestry Service of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Water Administration; and relevant NTFP business associations, including emerging private forest owner organisations. Women were a key target group for this project to ensure equality of opportunity and participation within the organisations listed. The ultimate beneficiaries of the project were the communal forest and pasture dependant rural poor families (women, men, boys and girls) with specific attention to the role of women in the economic and subsistence function of forests as well as for sustainability in forest management.
The review aimed at assessing the relevance and effectiveness of the project, documenting lessons from the implementation process of the various project interventions for informing future sector development, for use by the Embassy of Sweden, Government and other partners, in future and ongoing similar programmes.
Specifically, this Mid-Term Review aimed at assessing the performance of the project (its efficiency and effectiveness), and provided comments regarding any required changes to project scope, such as objectives, duration, financing, and management arrangements. The review also provided a qualitative and quantitative assessment of the extent to which the benefits received by the target beneficiaries have a wider overall effect on the communities in the targeted communes and regions.