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Collective Management of Forest Resources in India: Lessons for Policy Formulation and Stakeholders Involvement

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Kameswari, V.L.V.
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Globalisation, the Ninth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Conf. Date: June 17-21, 2002
Date: 2002
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/541
Sector: Forestry
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
forest management
forest policy
community participation
Abstract: "Management of common pool resources for sustainable use of natural resources had been a matter of much debate and discussion in recent times. Different criteria have been used to define the successful management of common property resources. These include ecological sustainability, economic profitability and institutional efficiency. "Large body of literature also exists on the conditions under which institutions governing the management of common pool resources will function effectively. Notable among these are the works of Wade (1988) and Ostrom (1990). These conditions (popularly known as design principles) are also seen as requirements/ preconditions for successful collective action in common pool resource situations. Many scholars, however, point out that this approach essentially narrows down the collective action process solely to internal dynamics. There is significant evidence to suggest that socio-economic factors, political environment and legal issues play an equally important role in the success or otherwise of common pool resource management institutions. Literature also points out that external factors play a crucial role in the management of common pool resources as they influence decision making by the resource users. This paper highlights a different but critical aspect that influences the management of common property resources, viz. the scale at which governance decisions are taken and the level at which collective action is enacted. "During the last decade or so, forest resources in India have increasingly come under the ambit of common property regime. Though many of these efforts are a result of the felt needs of the resource users, an equal number have sprouted under the directives of the State. Relationship among the users and resource use pattern, under the later, are governed by national level policies and macro perspective. Drawing from a study conducted to understand the management of forest resources through collective action in a state in Central India, this paper examines national policies, their implementation and needs of the resource users. It was found that while governance decisions are taken at the regional and even national level, peoples involvement in common pool resource management is essentially influenced by local factors. This mismatch has important implications for stakeholders involvement and access to resources managed under the common property regime. One reason being the fact that the government has its own idea of local level organization, which does not always correspond with the realities in the field and what is optimal for the equity and the ecosystem. The other reason is that the policy guidelines are formulated taking broad categories of stakeholders into consideration while completely ignoring intracategory variations that play a significant role at the micro level. The paper concludes that government dominated/directed arrangements are unsuited for management of the common pool resources as they fail to address the needs of local resource uses who influence the management outcomes."

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