The strength of the IMFN lies in the Model Forests themselves. Building relationships that allow for a broad range of stakeholders to work together over a long period of time is an investment. Model Forests acknowledge that this social side of sustainability is equally as important as other aspects and address social sustainability primarily through the creation of governance structures that are inclusive, participatory, open and accountable to its stakeholders.
Typically, Model Forest partners include governments at all levels, NGOs, community groups, indigenous peoples, industry (forest, mining, agriculture, etc), recreationalists, academia and others. In some cases, the army or Catholic Church has joined a Model Forest as important socio-cultural partners for an area.
The Chinese Academy of Forestry (CAF) is host to the RMFN-Asia’s secretariat and an important strategic partner for the network. The CAF is an academic and research institute in Beijing that reports to the State Forestry Administration. Its contribution to the network includes provision of staff time and office space for the regional secretariat.