Local Institutional Changes and Collective Forest Management in Taohua Village of Lijiang, Yunnan, China

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"This paper is an extension of a previous study on collective forest management in Taohua village, Lijiang County, Yunnan Province, China. The original paper explored local adaptations in village rules for forest management, and the degree to which multi-ethnic village communities in China can sustainably manage forest resources. This update investigates in greater depth changes in the village's institutional landscape since the implementation of China's logging ban in 1998. While the original research illustrated ways in which multi-ethnic village communities can sustainably manage forest resources as common property, more recent fieldwork indicates that the logging ban is overwhelming the Taohua village community's power to adapt and enforce rules. As a result, an initiative designed to promote conservation is, in this instance, ironically leading to increased forest degradation as village rules for protecting the forest give way to an open access regime. Additionally, without the considerable share of income that villagers formerly received from forestry, many villagers in Taohua have returned to poverty. This more recent evidence reinforces the overarching conclusion of the original paper -- future forest polices in China should indeed involve general guidelines for forestry management and development, but at the same time leave some flexibility for local government and village communities to adjust guidelines to their specific local situations. Nurturing a better policy environment by allowing for greater participation in decision-making comprises an essential step in this process."
IASC, common pool resources, forest management, village organization, institutional analysis, forest policy