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Exclusion and Inclusion in Latin American Forestry: Whither Decentralization?

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Larson, Anne; Pacheco, Pablo; Toni, Fabiano; Vallejo, Mario
Conference: Survival of the Commons: Mounting Challenges and New Realities, the Eleventh Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bali, Indonesia
Conf. Date: June 19-23, 2006
Date: 2006
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/203
Sector: Forestry
Region: Central America & Caribbean
South America
Subject(s): IASC
decision making
Abstract: "Forestry decentralization offers new opportunities for participation in decision-making regarding natural resources and for greater local resource control. Yet previous research has found that decentralizations, at least in the way that they are implemented, may also have detrimental effects on forest-dependent peoples. Far more needs to be done to understand how decentralization affects livelihoods through changes in governance institutions. This effort requires a comprehensive understanding of both the national context and specific local dynamics. This paper represents a synthesis of the findings of research on forestry decentralizations in Bolivia, Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. It has two principal goals: to propose a theoretical framework to conceptualize more effectively the relationship among decentralization, governance and livelihoods; and to assess the current state of forestry decentralizations in Latin America, with particular attention to the role of sub-national governments and the effects on 'marginalized' forest-dependent groups. "With regard to current trends in decentralization, the research finds both gains and losses for sub-national governments, often within the same country. The greatest gains in terms of decentralized decision-making over forests have come primarily through contractual arrangements between sub-national governments and forestry institutes and through certain land tenure policies. With regard to marginalized groups, however, the research found that forestry in general is not a sector in which small producers are able to improve their welfare without specific policies operating in their favor, and for decentralization to have a positive effect, it has to come hand in hand with other measures- particularly those that address structural inequities, such as property rights and access to financial resources and technologies. That is, forestry decentralizations do not necessarily benefit these groups and appear to do so only when this is a specific policy goal."

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