Communities and Their Partners: Governance and Community-Based Forest Management

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"A number of agencies closely associated with community-based forest management have recently commissioned reviews to assess the impacts of opening the arena for decision making and benefit sharing in forest management to a wider spectrum of players. This article draws on the findings of a set of reviews commissioned by the Ford Foundation and on an interactive process in which partners in activities supported by the Foundation had opportunities to respond to the conclusions drawn by the reviews. It analyses how governance is emerging as a central concern of all the partners involved in efforts to forge new relationships between government agencies, forest communities and intermediaries such as NGOs that work with them. All those involved in the process considered that the scientific bureaucratic model that has dominated forest management since the nineteenth century and earlier has reached an impasse marked by conflict between a spectrum of stakeholders, and by questions about the biological or ecological sustainability of current harvesting and production practises. Community-based forest management will not in itself resolve these tensions and conflicts, but it does have the potential to play an important role in sustainable natural resources management strategies if there is a realignment of relations between households, community and government. The reviews, therefore, call for more emphasis on crafting inclusive, equitable and accountable mechanisms to articulate and mediate relations between partners from the national and even international level to the local."
community forestry, sustainability, NGOs, stakeholders, governance and politics, CBRM, harvesting, resource management