Ensuring 'Collective Action' in 'Participatory' Forest Management

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2004
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Abstract
"After a decade and half since policy change in India, there are evidences that 'participatory' efforts in forestry are becoming acceptable at various levels of governance. Although community initiated and NGO promoted collective action based resource management has emerged sporadically throughout India in last 20 years, government has also come up with three subsequent resolutions related to joint forest management (JFM) since 1990, each more liberal than the earlier. "This paper is based on three case studies, each belonging to one of the three types of institutional structures: Self-initiated, NGO promoted, and government sponsored JFM. Despite similar basic objectives of all the three institutional structures i.e. strengthening the ecological security and meeting subsistence biomass needs of the local people, each institutional structure is different, with its strengths and weaknesses. If these factors can be identified it could have useful policy implications. The three case studies undertaken belong to similar eco-geographical area; have comparable forest area, and all the three communities with heterogeneous population belong to similar socio-economic background. The data has been collected by using International Forestry Resources and Institutions (IFRI) methodology, which helps combine the botanical information with the socio-economic information, with the help of ten research instruments. The study brings out the importance of autonomy for the communities to make decisions. Indigenously formed rules and conflict resolving mechanism are found not only to be more flexible and acceptable to the community, but also helpful in the development of mutual understanding, common norms i.e. in building social capital. Although both, the community-initiated and NGO promoted communities, have eventually adopted government sponsored JFM program because of the authenticity/legality that the program provides, the two have continued with the institutional provisions that were developed through their informal efforts. Thus, rather than oscillating between the simplistic models of either state or 'village community', there is a need to conceive of more complex arrangements in which forest areas are protected for multiple objectives, under the working of multiple institutions."
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IASC, forest management--case studies, forest policy, collective action--case studies, joint management--case studies, institutional analysis, IFRI, NGOs
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