Local Interests and Individual Belonging in Village Forest Commons in Vrancea Mountains of Romania: (1) Village Forest Commons: Community Structures in the Self-Governance Process; (2) The Individual and the Forest Commons

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"The papers we propose present the main issues regarding communal forest property in Vrancea Mountains of Romania, offering a broad overview of communal forest ownership system in the post socialist context. "We would like to give two distinct presentations, based on a single fieldwork, concerning one major subject, the forest commons in Vrancea Mountains. "The papers are based on comparative field research carried in 10 communities during November 2003 and August 2005. The methodological approach combines the sociological and the anthropological methods (a database of 400 questionnaires and almost 200 interviews, comparative analysis on normative texts) in order to provide a representative and also intensive scientific research of all communal forest property related processes. "Each village in the historical Vrancea Region possesses parts of the mountains - very large forest surfaces, between 1500 ha and 8000 ha. Over time, the villagers' access becomes more and more restricted because of the improvements in exploitation technology, the wood resource becoming scarce. We find in the XVIIIth century a community-based institution, Obstea, in the form of village assembly, which has the attributes, among others, to preserve the property undivided and equal rights for every member of the community. This kind of self-governance assures the normative framework for a long period. In 1950, the communist regime abolishes almost all private property, including common owned forests; the state becomes the only administrative instance, until 2000 when the law permits the restoration of communal forest property and we can observe the rehabilitation of old institutional forms, but in more strict and bureaucratized ways that are not always adaptable to local situations; thus creating conflicts between villagers and the ruling council or confusion in the management. "This topic will be analyzed in two different presentations: 1) village forest commons - community structures in the self-governance process; and 2) the individual and the forest commons. "The first part of the topic is presented by Liviu Mantescu and concerns common property administration processes, detailed on the following dimensions: (a) Historical overview of common property in Vrancea Mountains of Romania and the main scientific references on this topic in the past century; (b) Local governance of common property nowadays. Main issues of this point are political and juridical conditions of restoration; decision taking process - local regulations and public policies, bundle of rights contained in statutory law; (c) Community social networks and power relations that come from entrepreneurial and political struggles - structuring the forest property relations. "The second part of our topic is presented by Monica Vasile and focuses on the relation between the individual and the collective property in terms of belonging, representations, satisfaction and involvement: (a) The mental construction of collective property- including cognitive and affective elements; (b) The individual's vision over the collective administration's ways; (c) Perceptions of individual material advantages coming from common property exploitation; (d) The individual involvement: collective actions and its motivations. "These two papers offer an integrated answer to the main questions we posed at the beginning of this study: the communal restoration of forests in this region contributes to the sustainable local development? Does this property form have a future, and under which specific conditions?"
IASC, common pool resources, community forestry, mountain regions, indigenous institutions, state and local governance, networks, property rights, sustainability, transitional economics