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Assessing the Promise and Limitations of Joint Forest Management in an Era of Globalisation: the Case of West Bengal

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Hill, Douglas
Conference: Constituting the Commons: Crafting Sustainable Commons in the New Millennium, the Eighth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bloomington, Indiana, USA
Conf. Date: May 31-June 4
Date: 2000
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/776
Sector: Forestry
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
joint management
forest management
economic development
Abstract: "This paper seeks to interrogate the claims of the dominant discourses of globalisation with regard to their compatibility with mechanisms for empowering marginalised communities and providing a basis for sustainable livelihood strategies through the appropriate management of Common Property Resources. It argues that, despite the expanding theoretical attention to globalisation, the majority of the relevant literature contains substantial silences regarding the impact of these processes on those marginalized communities of low income countries. To redress this tendency, the analysis seeks to analyse this literature (and its theoretical underpinnings) by examining the well-known Joint Forest Management (JFM) scheme of West Bengal. The analysis contends that this is a noteable example of the emerging emphasis on grassroots movements and civil society as the institutional context of participatory development. However, it also contends that JFM has been able to succeed in part because of the broader context of pro-poor rural development facilitated by the West Bengal Government. Thus, a contention of the paper is that, in the ambiguous flows which characterise these globalising processes, there is a substantial role for a sympathetic state in concert with other institutional configurations. "The main focus of the paper is the complex interplay between the institutions of JFM (Forest Protection Committees), the State (through the Panchayati Raj Institutions), as well as local (IBRAD) and international NGOs (Ford Foundation), as well as multilateral institutions such as the World Bank. While this institutional matrix facilitates the emergence of bottom-up initiatives such as JFM, it is argued that it is far from unproblematic that this will lead to a redressal of inter- (and indeed intra-) village disparaties, particularly regarding caste/class and gender inequalities. These challenges are further contextualised through a theoretical incorporation of some of the themes of similar local institutions of common property resources usage both in India and elsewhere in the Asia Pacific region."

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