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Collective Forest Ownership and Management in China

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Ng, Shin Wei
Conference: Governing Shared Resources: Connecting Local Experience to Global Challenges, the Twelfth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Commons
Location: Cheltenham, England
Conf. Date: July 14-18, 2008
Date: 2008
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/558
Sector: Forestry
Region: East Asia
Subject(s): ownership
forest management
collective action
Abstract: "This paper looks at the reality of collective ownership and management of forestland in rural China. Unlike most common resource regimes in other parts of the world, collective ownership and management of forestland in China is a top-down institution. Collectives were established to assist the government to control the production of forest products and to increase governments revenues. The collectives were not independent and were not real representatives of their members. Over the years, changes in political environment changed the institution and nature of the collectives. Although they are now self-governing bodies that hold democratic elections, the collectives are nonetheless still mainly the administrative arms of the government. This paper looks at the role of the collectives in this type of institution and how they differ from the common resource management regimes that were organised from grass-root level. In particular, it looks at how the nature of the collectives impacts on management of common resources. "In the second part, the paper will look at the participation of members of the collectives in the management of forestland. It describes the extent of the rights collective members have vis-a-vis the collective governing bodies and the state. The composition of these rights in turn explains the reactions of the people in relation to investment in and management of collective forestland. In particular, it shows that recent changes in economic and social conditions are having a huge impact on the management of collective forestland. The paper concludes by looking at the possible directions that China can take in relation to collective forest, including privatisation of forestland."

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