Communities are the most important unit of the forest forum process. Forest fringe communities depend almost entirely on forest resources for livelihoods. Their activities take place both in forest reserves and off-reserves. While farming is predominantly outside the reserves, activities such as the collection of cane and rattan for furniture and hunting are carried out in the reserves. Community members therefore come together to discuss the issues which concern them as they are bound together by economic interest.
There are also identifiable self-organised groups at the community level such as small scale agro processors, charcoal burners and herbalists who meet regularly to discuss the challenges of their trade and find local solutions to them.
The community forest forum targets as many community members as possible, including representatives of community based organisations, chiefs, queen mothers and local authority representatives. The process takes advantage of already-existing platforms in the community such as durbars and taboo days which find most community members taking a break from their regular economic activities. Common issues which emerge at community forest forums include non-fulfilment of social responsibility agreements by large-scale timber firms, benefit sharing arrangements in regard of on-farm trees, chainsaw operation, water pollution and land grabbing.
The process is facilitated by a community-based organisation supported by active community members who lead the mobilisation process.