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What Makes Joint Forest Management Successful? Science-Based Policy Lessons on Sustainable Governance of Forests in India

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Singh, Vijai Shanker; Pandey, Deep Narayan
Date: 2010
Agency: Climate Change and CDM Cell , Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
Series: RSPCB Occasional Paper No. 3/2010
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/6511
Sector: Forestry
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): forests
local governance and politics
monitoring and sanctioning
Abstract: "Forests are vital for social, economic, ecological and environmental reasons. They play an important role in ecosystem processes (such as the biogeochemical and hydrological cycles), they provide habitat for wildlife and serve as sources of biodiversity, and they offer protection against soil erosion. Forests are also among the most effective systems for air pollution abatement and ground water recharge. In this era of global warming, forests help mitigate the effects of climate change, and maintain biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. However, in spite of their obvious value, human activity is causing unprecedented threats to forest ecosystems. Therefore, a serious attention to the factors that lead to effective forest governance is essential to address forest restoration and management challenges in India. A large number of variables are suggested in literature that may potentially determine success or failure of sustainable governance of forests, yet the success in finding the most essential factor for sustainability has remained elusive. This paper reviews recent research and demonstrates that even when a number of other factors are taken into account, higher levels of local monitoring and enforcement of locally-made rules can result in improved forest restoration and lower the possibility of forest degradation across a variety of ecological, economic and social contexts. It is essential to emphasize here that strong autonomy of rule-making at the local level (and not the government-imposed rules) is a key predictor of both better forests as well as better availability of goods and services to support livelihoods of local people. These science-based policy lessons have immediate practical utility for evidence-based forest management and restoration in India. There is an urgent need for the establishment of credible local monitoring, local rule-making and local enforcement systems in every village-level organization to facilitate local learning and adaptation. In the context of joint forest management, it is expected that village forest management and protection committees that have local rule-making, local monitoring and local enforcement are more likely to succeed in their efforts directed towards better forests and improved livelihoods. We must strive to enhance the quality of governance because such efforts result in decrease in deforestation and long-term carbon storage in forests globally. Effective local institutional arrangements to govern forests substantially influence carbon storage and livelihood contributions."

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