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Participation of Farmers, Scientists and Grassroots Government in Rehabilitation of Degraded Forest Land

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Cai, Mantang
Conference: Crossing Boundaries, the Seventh Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Conf. Date: June 10-14
Date: 1998
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1648
Sector: Forestry
Region: East Asia
Subject(s): IASC
forest management
indigenous knowledge
participatory management
traditional resource management
Abstract: "This research dealt with forest resource management issues in the south part of China through a joint participation of farmers, grassroots government and scientists. The general methodologies of the research are organized in a logical framework of Participatory Diagnosis, Participatory Design and Participatory Delivery (Tri- PD). Tri-PD was established with the following basic philosophy: (1) Tri-PD is recognized as a logical framework of thinking rather then a procedure, for organizing project activities; (2) The key in Tri-PD is to establish a participatory environment for bottom-up implementation of research activities; (3) The central players (or participants) in Tri-PD are farmers, grassroots level government and scientists; (4) Tri-PD encourages combination of modern technologies and indigenous knowledge for solutions of facing problems; (5) The participatory design of Tri-PD intends to provide options (rather than single 'optimal solution') in a form of package (rather than a model one must copy); (6) Any experiments and tests in Tri-PD are carried out in on-farm condition. "It is easily found that the core of successful practice of Tri-PD approach is participation. In the four research sites (Zhejiang, Hunan, Guangxi and Yunnan provinces/region), multidisciplinary field teams were composed of scientists, farmers and grassroots government officials. "Farmers are the center of this participatory practice of natural resource management because they are directly benefited from such a practice. All the final decisions are made by the farmers because they are the owners of the forest land, and they have the right to decide how to use the resources. But in the whole process of decision making for a wise management of their resources, scientists and local government officials helped them in providing more scientific knowledge (biophysical solutions) as well as policy and information services. "Participation of grassroots government is also very important. As we can understand, we need the participation of the government because we need a better services and favorable policy environment. However, it is not expected to formulate new policies directly from the research project, but it is always possible for a project to produce enough impact for the local government to change their regulations of implementation of policies. This is the major role of the participation of the local grassroots level government. "Scientists, as the essential facilitators in the process, played an important role in setting up systematic diagnostic survey and providing information on technologies that are possible for application in the research areas. The scientists are also good bridges for improved communications between the farmers and the local government. "With the above principles of participation, participatory survey, diagnostic analysis, identification of solutions/ options and on-station experimentation were conducted at different research sites. Because the four research sites are all different in both technical issues as well as socioeconomic context, the mechanism of participation, and the role of different partners are different as well. This paper will, based on the case studies in four research sites, discuss on the mechanisms of participation under different situations and analysis of roles of different partners in a participatory research process."

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