Addressing equity in community-based forest management

Participatory approaches to forest management have been promoted as a means of returning resource use rights to communities and enabling sustainable use and equitable management of forests. Community-based forest management (CFM) is a participatory approach often heralded in the literature as achieving win-win social and ecological outcomes. However, even participatory approaches may not always result in clear positive outcomes for involvement in decision making and forest conservation.

In our paper we examine whether an Indonesian government initiative for community-based forest management was positively associated with community members’ participation in local decision making and support for conservation and sustainable management of forest resources. Our study examines whether is there a positive association between the level of participation in local decision-making processes and the presence of CFM and whether greater participation is positively associated with conservation support.

We found no consistent association between having a CFM and higher levels of participation in decision making or household support for forest conservation. However, well-being indicators were positively associated with more active participation. The level of support for forest conservation was also positively related to households’ leadership in village institutions and higher levels of well-being. We argue that the choice of institution and underlying social and economic context should be key considerations to achieve the stated objective of social equity.

Read the article: Friedman, R. S., J. R. Rhodes, A. J. Dean, E. A. Law, T. Santika, S. Budiharta, J. A. Hutabarat, T. P. Indrawan, A. Kusworo, E. Meijaard, F. A.V. St. John, M. J. Struebig and K. A. Wilson. 2020. Analyzing procedural equity in government-led community-based forest management. Ecology and Society 25 (3):16. [online] URL: https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol25/iss3/art16/