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The Need for Creating Policy Spaces in Joint Forest Management: A Case Study from the Punjab-Shiwaliks, India

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Chaturvedi, Rohini
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Global Transition: Challenges, Risks and Opportunities, the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Oaxaca, Mexico
Conf. Date: August 9-13
Date: 2004
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/652
Sector: Social Organization
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): IASC
forest management--case studies
joint management--case studies
traditional resource management
forest policy
Abstract: "It was December 2003. A group of villagers and the local forest guard had gathered in the village Kharkhan (Punjab, India) to discuss the implementation of a Joint Forest Management Programme (JFM) in this village. The conversation began on a congenial note but in a short while, turned into a heated debate. The voices had become sharp and the tone was nearly threatening. One of the vocal Panchayat1 members, for example, loudly declared: 'The forest is ours. If we decide, we can fell all the trees, burn all the grass, and the forest department will be unable to do anything In fact that is what we should do, and will do if you (the forest department) continue to force us.' "His fellow villagers nodded vigorously to express their agreement. The women gathered their children and quietly left. The Forest Guard replied in an equally threatening tone: 'No! The forest is controlled by the Government! The forest is yours only in name. We (the forest department) are the actual owners and the workers of the forest. You only derive the benefits...' "A seemingly peaceful meeting to evaluate a proposed programme had suddenly become a battlefield. The reactions were totally new and unexpected. Later interactions with the community and the forest officials, separately, revealed that the tension was rooted in the forest departments unrelenting efforts to implement a participatory forest management policy that was in conflict with the villagers traditional resource use practices. The present paper investigates the history of this conflict and examines the need for greater policy spaces to accommodate community culture, and traditional management practices."

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