Public Participation in Community Forest Policy in Thailand: The Influence of Academics as Brokers

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2003

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Abstract

"This paper focuses on the role of networks in enhancing public participation in community forestry policy in Thailand. It analyses how conflicts between the state and local people over the right to manage forest resources have ceased to be seen as isolated incidents, but as part of a structural shortcoming in the law. In so doing it discusses the appearance of networks of actors who question the effectiveness of state control, and lobby for formal frameworks to establish the rights of local people in regards to access and control over forest resources. The paper analyses how the different actors became involved, and what their influence was in the process of drafting and presenting a people's version of a community forest bill to Parliament in 2000. Results show that conflicts over access rights to forest resources at the local level would not have had widespread national attention, was it not for a group of academics who supported the idea of local management. They became actively involved in the drafting process of the community forest bill, and could effectively lift a formerly local issue to a national level by using the press to publicize their academic achievements. Academics, non-governmental organizations, and peoples organizations strategically allied themselves with those actors within the state apparatus who had the same opinion. In so doing they attempted to acquire a broader support for legalizing the community forestry bill."

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IASC, common pool resources, community forestry, forest policy, networks, forest law, NGOs, citizen participatory management, activism

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