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Diversity in Communities, Divergence in Outcomes, Dilemmas for Policy in Community-Based Forest Management

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Saha, Shubhayu
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/10535/980
Sector: Forestry
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): IASC
forest management
collective action
joint management
forest products
economic development
Abstract: "Theoretical and empirical research has invalidated the inevitable notion that collective forest resource management by villagers is ordained to meet with over-extraction and failure. However, community based forest management approaches are not infallible either. The element of cooperation intrinsic to community based forest management models often rely on the rather simplistic assumption of homogeneity among resource users. In reality though, villagers are economically and culturally diverse. These differences lead to varying patterns of dependence on forest resources, which may impede arriving at consensus on arrangements to manage the resource. "Using data collected from 57 Forest Protection Committees under Joint Forest Management in West Bengal, India, this paper finds that committees with members belonging to similar ethnicities and having less disparity in income achieve higher levels of collective action. More interestingly, high levels of collective action are observed in both uniformly rich and poor committees. These two groups have quite distinct patterns of dependence on forest resources, the richer using poles and fodder as compliments for agriculture, while the poor depend on forest products to supplement their subsistence needs. The implications of such divergence in preferences over forest resources are discussed in the context of economic development and forest conservation policies."

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