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Locating Benefits: Expanding Decision-spaces, Resource Access and Equity in U.S. Community-based Forestry

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: McDermott, Melanie H.
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/10535/642
Sector: Forestry
Region: North America
Subject(s): CBRM
community forestry
political economy
rural development
Abstract: "The Ford Foundation's Community-based Forestry Demonstration Program represents an important experiment in participatory forest management in the United States. In its call for proposals and subsequent assessments, the Ford program promoted an internationally prominent model of community forestry in which a defining feature is the simultaneous, balanced pursuit of ecological, economic and social goals (often symbolized as the 'three-legged stool,' or 'triple bottom line'). In fact, as an ethnographic examination of two of the pilot sites finds, not all cases fit this model. The alternative framework proposed holds that community forestry will generate social benefits, when it expands: (1) who has a role in making what decisions about forest management how (i.e., decision spaces), and (2) who gets access to what resources (e.g., forests, capital, knowledge). Both cases met these foundational criteria, yet were pursuing ecology, economy and equity in sequence (and with uneven emphasis), rather than as an integrated whole. We also found that who -- within communities differentiated by class, race, ethnicity and other social boundaries -- gained access to resources and decision-making influence largely predicted who gained individually. Nonetheless, indirect benefits felt at community and higher scales were significant. These results further indicate that community forestry generally will not advance social equity unless it specifically targets the inclusion of marginalized groups."

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