This network paper from the Rural Development Forestry Network presents two papers. The first paper ôDesigning participatory strategies for forest projects in West Africa: two case studies from Beninö, examines different approaches to achieving effective participation by local people, by contrasting two successful forestry projects in Benin. A GTZ-funded forest rehabilitation programme followed a strategy of 'working with people', creating joint activities and paid labour, while a large multilateral project, PGRN, took the approach of 'talking with people', fostering political involvement. The author argued that certain crucial factors - common interest between project staff and target groups, a clear project strategy and commitment to a long process of communication and institution building - distinguished projects in which participation was merely functional from those in which local people had a full political role in decision-making. The second paper, ôThe Monitoring Team Approach to Project Follow-up and Evaluation: Experiences from two SIDA-Funded Programmes in Central Americaö, looks at a new approach to evaluation of donor projects was described in this paper. Rather than the usual practice of one-off external evaluations, the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (SIDA) experimented with Monitoring Teams, who visited projects in Costa Rica and Nicaragua on a regular annual or biannual basis. Each visit was carried out in a standardised manner with emphasis on in-depth discussion with all stakeholders. The new approach proved well suited to the modern style of flexible, broad-based projects in which the donor has little direct involvement. Not only did the Monitoring Teams provide SIDA with an ongoing accurate picture of project performance, but the repeated visits established an iterative cycle of project improvement.