Forest resources provide a variety of benefits. Any assessment of the utilization of forest resources involves much more than a study of harvesting wood. Other factors include patterns of existing land use ( e.g. hunting, conservation), greenhouse gas balances, biodiversity, environmental status and condition, water catchments, landscape values, forest protection, biological productivity and the the dynamics of forest growth, non-wood products ( e.g. berries and mushrooms, recreation), socio-economic factors and infrastructure needs and provision.
Integrated forest management planning should include: an inventory of forest resources; a forest management plan for implementation through a local entity; research and training programmes; an eco-tourism strategy; identified mutually beneficial relationships (formal and informal) with industrial partners involved in biodiversity prospecting; an inventory of the uses of flora and fauna by indigenous communities, and by women in particular, including medicinal and healing practices; policy advice on biodiversity conservation and prospecting for government counterparts and the international community; studies on the total economic value of the forest (including the valuation of environmental benefits provided by the forest); and a system of indicators for sustainable forest management.
The Iwokrama International Rain Forest Programme in Guyana launched in 1990, presents an innovative process in integrated forest management. The Programme is based on an umbrella partnership of the Amerindian communities, environmental NGOs, the scientific community, funding agencies, and forest based industries under the umbrella of the Guyanese government to whom the land pertains. This partnership enables the programme to reach its objectives in research, development and disseminating of conservation techniques for biological diversity and sustainable management of tropical rain forest resources for Guyana and the global community. It also promotes links with educational and information organizations as well as the private sector and the policy community. Furthermore it is an active demonstration of how local forest resources are utilized to sustain communities, combining economics, culture and tradition with ecology in a day-to-day living model of sustainability.