National Forest Foundation

Learning Topics

Practice of Collaboration

The National Forest Foundation is proud of our collection of tools, best practices, and peer learning sessions that were developed to aid collaborative groups, Forest Service staff, and community partners in the practice of collaboration.
Not finding what you need? Visit our Collaboration Tools Search to see all tools and resources.


Selected Tools & Resources

Factors Influencing Successful Collaboration
This evaluation form is useful for collaborative groups desiring to self-assess collaborative success.

The Collaboration Cloverleaf: Four Stages of Development
Research has shown that successfully addressing the factors below results in a more effective collaborative effort. There may also be some factors that your collaborative must address that aren’t listed here. We call this a cloverleaf as you will meet all of the challenges repeatedly and not necessarily in order. As the group moves around the cloverleaf, its members will increase in skill level, so the next time the group faces the same challenge, it will be better prepared. This tool is meant to give you an idea of “what’s next” and what might be missing.

Stages of Collaborative Development
This grid outlines the four stages of collaborative development - formation, foundation, fruition, and future. This tool will be helpful to any budding - or mature - collaborative group.

Running an Effective Collaborative Meeting
The effectiveness of meetings plays a vital role in the success of a collaborative group. It’s important to pay attention to the details of meetings because they are very expensive events in terms of people’s time and travel. Plus, no one wants to go to a poorly run meeting, and there can be enough challenges in finding agreement without struggling over preventable issues.

Important Questions for a Collaborative Process
This tool is ideal to guide the start-up or launch phase of a collaborative group or effort.

Orienting New Members into a Collaborative
This best practice outlines the Diablo Trust's proactive work to ease transitions and turnover by developing an orientation document, called the “Diablo Trust: History, Purpose and Overview.”

Formalized Agreement between a Collaborative & the Forest Service
The Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition (NEWFC) signed a memorandum of agreement (MOU) with the Colville National Forest in 2003. The MOU formalized the working relationship between NEWFC and the Forest, and also specified that NEWFC would provide the Forest Service “a written statement articulating the level of support” NEWFC has for a project.

Selected Peer Learning Sessions

Collaborative Problem Solving Principles and Techniques: A Partnership Network Peer Learning Session (June 12, 2013)
This peer learning session featured experts from the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution (USIECR). The session covered the basic principles of Interest Based Negotiation and process design for collaborative problem solving. Also, the presenters reviewed some specific tools and techniques for collaboration and public engagement such as the use of situation assessments and operating protocols.

Measuring Progress in Collaboration (February 13, 2013)
You've formed a partnership, and you're collaborating but how do you know if you are progressing successfully? This peer learning session answered this basic question by providing tools and strategies to support collaborative efforts in measuring progress and success.This session was sponsored by the USFS National Partnership Office and coordinated by the National Forest Foundation.

Navigating the Swirling Waters of Collaboration (June 10, 2009)
No one ever said collaboration about the stewardship of our National Forests was easy. Challenges include hours of meetings, discussions among people with conflicting views about controversial topics, and the convergence of concerns, hopes and reliance upon the land, collaborative groups persist despite these challenges. This peer learning session explored what we have all collectively learned about the process of collaboration. Participants shared stories from experiences about the rapids a collaborative group can count on bouncing through, rocks to avoid and alternative routes, and how to make the most of quiet stretches of water when presented.

Working with Collaborative Groups (March 12, 2015)
Some Forest Service units embrace collaboration; they prioritize collaborative work and help community-based collaborative groups succeed in finding common ground. Similarly, many collaborative groups embrace Forest Service line officers. The relationship between the Forest Service and a collaborative group can be satisfying and productive, but also requires thoughtful planning and involvement. In this session, speakers from the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution and Forest Service discussed strategic approaches to partnerships and collaboration.

Collaborative Touchpoints around the NEPA Process (May 18, 2012)
What is the role of collaboration in National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) processes? What specific actions can the Forest Service and collaborative groups take at different steps in the process to achieve a widely accepted alternative? The National Forest Foundation and a team of community-based collaborators and the Forest Service are working together to develop a clear, concise and usable tool to help with this question.

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