Forests for People: Community Rights and Forest Tenure Reform, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Forests for People

Community Rights and Forest Tenure Reform, 1st Edition

Edited by Anne M. Larson, Deborah Barry, Ganga Ram Dahal, Carol Jean Pierce Colfer


280 pages

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Who has rights to forests and forest resources? In recent years governments in the South have transferred at least 200 million hectares of forests to communities living in and around them. This book assesses the experience of what appears to be a new international trend that has substantially increased the share of the world's forests under community administration. Based on research in over 30 communities in selected countries in Asia (India, Nepal, Philippines, Laos, Indonesia), Africa (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana) and Latin America (Bolivia, Brazil, Guatemala, Nicaragua), it examines the process and outcomes of granting new rights, assessing a variety of governance issues in implementation, access to forest products and markets and outcomes for people and forests.

Forest tenure reforms have been highly varied, ranging from the titling of indigenous territories to the granting of small land areas for forest regeneration or the right to a share in timber revenues. While in many cases these rights have been significant, new statutory rights do not automatically result in rights in practice, and a variety of institutional weaknesses and policy distortions have limited the impacts of change. Through the comparison of selected cases, the chapters explore the nature of forest reform, the extent and meaning of rights transferred or recognized, and the role of authority and citizens' networks in forest governance. They also assess opportunities and obstacles associated with government regulations and markets for forest products and the effects across the cases on livelihoods, forest condition and equity.

Published with CIFOR.


'An important, ambitious and timely contribution to scholarship on local forest management. Forests for People presents a rich analysis of the opportunities and obstacles that communities face when their rights to manage forests are formally recognized. Most striking is the effort at synthesis across a number of key themes, drawing on the experience of scholars from around the globe who participated in the cases study research. I highly recommend it to any policymaker, practitioner or researcher interested in communities and forests.' Elinor Ostrom, Indiana University, joint winner of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, 2009 'This volume does a superb job of synthesizing the lessons learned. Rather than presenting a series of country case studies as is often the case in comparative volumes spanning three continents, the chapters are organized according to cross-cutting themes. Each chapter draws upon the findings for a range of countries, sometimes in all three regions, and includes an extensive literature review.' Carmen Diana Deere, Professor of Food and Resource Economics and Latin American Studies, University of Florida, USA 'Tenure and access will be amongst the biggest challenges if the large investments soon to be made in forests for climate change mitigation and adaptation are to be effective and equitable. This new book provides a unique synthesis of current thinking on forest tenure issues and will be essential reading for those involved in forest policy reforms.' Jeffrey Sayer, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) 'This is an outstanding contribution to research and action on community forestry. In a period when a new global forest regime seems upon us, it presents a cogent, evidence-backed argument in favor of tenure and rights to forest-dependent communities.' Arun Agrawal, University of Michigan, USA Forests for People provides 'considerable insight into the diversity of customary rights, the many ways in which governments manipulate title to land and resources, the politics of empowerment, etc.' David Walton, Bulletin of the British Ecological Society ''Forests for People' is a choice and solidly recommended pick for anyone intrigued by the forest debate.' Wisconsin Bookwatch, Midwestern Book Review, July 2010. 'essential reading for those invovled in forest policy reform, who wish to learn from recent experiences around the world.' New Agriculturist, May 2010. 'Well researched and written book…the book will form key reference material for anyone working with policy and user-groups in forests or woodlands anywhere in the southern hemisphere.' Isla Grundy, Southern Forests, May 2010. 'Provides a clear synopsis of recent efforts to change forest tenure…Important related issues are well integrated' B.D.Orr, Choice Magazine, October 2010. 'Forests for people is a scholarly and succinct analysis of forest tenure reform based on evidence from around the world. As such it is an important resource for those working in forest policy reform, both planners and practitioners.' Unasylva

Table of Contents

Part I. Introduction 1. Tenure Change in the Global South 2. Forest Tenure Reform: An Orphan with Only Uncles Part II. The Transfer of Tenure Rights 3. The Devolution of Management Rights and the Comanagement of Community Forests 4. From Discourse to Policy: The Practical Interface of Statutory and Customary Land and Forest Rights Part III. Governance Institutions: Authority Relations and Social Movements 5. Authority Relations under New Forest Tenure Arrangements 6. Community Networks, Collective Action and Forest Management Benefits Part IV. Regulations and Markets for Forest Products 7. Regulations as Barriers to Community Benefits in Tenure Reform 8. Communities and Forest Markets: Assessing the Benefits from Diverse Forms of Engagement Part V. Outcomes and Conclusions 9. Outcomes of Reform for Livelihoods, Forest Condition and Equity 10. Conclusions and Reflections for the Future of Forest Tenure Reform References Contributors Abbreviations Index

About the Editors

Anne M Larson is Senior Research Associate with the Center for International Forestry Research and is based in Nicaragua. Her research has focused on conservation and development, decentralization, indigenous rights and forest governance. She holds a PhD in Wildland Resource Science from the University of California, Berkeley and a B.S. in Environmental Science from Stanford University.

Deborah Barry is a Senior Research Associate at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Director of Country Programs for the Rights and Resources Initiative, based in Washington, DC. An economic and cultural geographer, her recent areas of work have been on community forestry in Mexico and Central America, forest tenure and governance and payment for environmental services with a concern for equity.

Ganga Ram Dahal is a Research Consultant at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). He obtained his PhD in Forest Policy and Governance from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. His main areas of work include decentralisation, forest tenure, community forestry and institutions.

Carol J. Pierce Colfer is an Anthropologist and Principal Scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research. In recent years her work has focused on adaptive collaborative management of forests, devolution and decentralization in forests, and landscape level forest governance. She holds a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from University of Washington in Seattle, 1974; and MPH (Master of Public Health) in International Health from the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, 1979.

About the Series

The Earthscan Forest Library

The Earthscan Forest Library

This series brings together a wide collection of volumes addressing diverse aspects of forests and forestry and draws on a range of disciplinary perspectives. Titles cover the full range of forest science and include the biology, ecology, biodiversity, restoration, management (including silviculture and timber production), geography and environment (including climate change), socio-economics, anthropology, policy, law and governance. The series aims to demonstrate the important role of forests in nature, peoples’ livelihoods and in contributing to broader sustainable development goals. It is aimed at undergraduate and postgraduate students, researchers, professionals, policy-makers and concerned members of civil society. Authors or editors of potential new titles should contact Hannah Ferguson, Editor ([email protected]).

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
NATURE / Ecology
SCIENCE / Earth Sciences / Geography