Management of natural resources on communal lands
Joint collective management of areas of state forest
Management of forestry and agriculture on forest land
Management of collective forestation on village lands
This chapter examines selected major recent and current experiences of government interventions to create or support contemporary systems of collective management of forest resources and forest products.
Nine programmes are reviewed. Each involves some form of contractual arrangement between the state and local users, designed to improve both management of the resource and the distribution of benefits from its use. In contrast with the previous chapter on indigenous systems, the focus here is thus on systems where the initiative has come from outside rather than inside the user population.
Though there are no sharp boundaries between them, these programmes may be grouped into four broad categories of forest situation.
Management of Natural Resources on Communal Lands
Land is owned by or exclusively allocated to communities, but the state historically has exercised control over forest/woodland resources on that land
· Ejido Forests, Mexico
Joint or Collective Management of Areas of State Forest
Farm households still depend upon heavy inputs of green mulch, fodder, income, etc., from nearby areas of forest, and state forest resources are under pressure from local users
· Hilt Community Forestry, Nepal
Management of Forestry and Agriculture on Forest Land
Forest areas where swidden agriculture is giving way to slash-and-burn and settled agriculture
· Stewardship Agreements, Philippines
Management of Collective Forestation on Village Lands
Areas of settled agriculture where new and more accessible sources of forest products are needed in order to improve local supplies and reduce pressures on remaining natural forests
· Social Forestry Village Woodlots, India
The following assessment of these programmes focuses on factors that were identified in the previous chapters as important in explaining success or lack of success in common property management in forestry. It therefore highlights the nature and role of the CPR, the macro- and microinstitutional contexts, and the effectiveness of both local and state components of each programme.
Ejido Forests - Mexico
Campfire - Zimbabwe
The two case studies in this group deal with management of resources on lands over which local people had long had legal rights. In both cases, the governments had imposed substantial control over use of forest and other natural resources on these lands. Recently, moves have been initiated to transfer some control back to the community level. The studies summarize the legal and institutional changes and support measures designed to achieve this and to strengthen local management capabilities.
The rights of use to the ejido lands were granted to the communities (ejidos) after the 1910 revolution. Arable land is typically assigned to individuals but forest and pasture land is held in common. All ejidos have a common organizational structure, but each has to develop its own rules and regulations regarding exploitation, conflict resolution, benefit sharing, etc.
The ejido lands contain much of the country's forest resources and, until legislation in 1986, were in effect controlled by the government, which granted logging concessions to forest industries, some of them state-owned. The residents of the ejidos benefited very little in income or employment. A nominal stumpage fee was paid into a community development fund administered by the Ministry of Agrarian Reform, but little was transferred to the ejidos.
In the mid-1970s, peasant organizations campaigned to change the system so they could participate more directly in control and exploitation of their forests, and benefit more substantially and sustainably from the proceeds. In the mid-1980s, new legislation, culminating in the 1986 Forestry Law, transferred decision-making power over forest harvesting to the ejidos (subject to their obtaining approval for a management plan, to be drawn up by a forester). By 1988, there were at least 23 ejido organizations managing their forests in 13 states, with variable results.
The earlier arrangements usually were heavily entrenched, and those benefiting from them frequently have been reluctant to accept change. It became apparent that change would often require new institutions and the withdrawal of existing organizations. The technical assistance functions previously assumed by the state were first decentralized and then privatized, with the state reduced essentially to a supervisory role. In 1992, another Forestry Law established a national coordinating body, with regional bodies to provide fora for consultation by all interested parties.
In one of the apparently more successful of these initiatives, the Plan Piloto Forestal (PPF) in the tropical region of Quintana Roo, 10 ejidos have, since 1983, progressively taken over responsibility for management and exploitation of their forest resources (initially producing mainly chicle,8 but now principally harvesting mahogany). At an early stage it was realized that an autonomous institutional structure would be needed to provide a single voice for dealing with the government and the market, and to provide legal and technical assistance. This was created as the Sociedad de Productores Forestales Ejidales de Quintana Roo AC (SPFEQR).
8 A coagulated latex tapped from chicozapete trees (Manilkara zapote) and used in the production of chewing gum and other products.
The SPFEQR provided the ejidos with the institutional mechanism to operate independently of the Ministry of Agrarian Reform, to request and be granted concessions, and to take over technical assistance responsibilities from the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources. At the same time, each ejido maintains an autonomous forest management unit, and all production and management decisions continue to be made by the general assembly of each ejido.
The national forestry department pays the salaries of the forestry staff now assigned to the SPFEQR and the ejidos, and, with a donor project, has helped with technical and financial assistance. Progress has also required the involvement of the state and central government on a number of occasions to resolve political and other problems that have arisen.
The PPF has already been replicated three times, and by 1995 had been extended to about 50 ejidos covering 500 000 ha in the state. Active marketing has increased prices and expanded the range of species sold, ensuring larger income flows and an ability to finance further capitalization of the enterprise. The larger ejidos with mahogany-rich resources have been able to invest in processing. However, those with a poorer resource base have often found it difficult to maintain their members' interest in forest management, which consequently has declined in favour of agriculture.
In organizing and running their operations, many ejidos have been able to draw on a long experience with chicle cooperatives. Arrangements for distribution of benefits within communities have reflected traditional conventions such as annual rotation of posts, uniform salaries and consensual decision-making. While this has encouraged social cohesion, it has weakened business efficiency. Technical and business practices continue to show some weak points, and it is not clear yet if communities can function sustainably without at least some of the external advice and support they have been receiving.
In 1992, constitutional reform effectively privatized ejido land allocated to individuals and the rights of users of communal land. This has strengthened ejidos' legal rights to own and manage forest land, but makes it easier, if a majority of community members so wish, to clear the forest and parcel out the land. This possibility has raised fears that the reform may work against the poorer ejido members, who have fewer options and only a limited say in decisions. Queries have also been raised about the ability of ejidos to compete against the cheaper timber imported since the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect.
(Goldring, 1995; Perl et al., 1991; Richards, 1991; Richards et al., 1995; Rodriguez et al., 1993; Snook, 1991)
The CAMPFIRE (Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources) project in Zimbabwe has been developed in an effort to provide local communities with access to, control over and responsibility for the wildlife resources on their land. Related objectives are to empower the communities to make decisions about those resources, to ensure that they receive an equitable share of the benefits from exploitation of their resources, and to support institutional strengthening at the community level.
Historically, wildlife management in Africa has been controlled by governments. A focus on preservation and the revenue-generating potential of wildlife, and the creation of parks and buffer zones in pursuit of these objectives, has led to state intervention and top-down control of wildlife exploitation and management even on land held under communal tenure. Most moves to involve local communities have resulted at best in passive participation, with communities rarely politically or legally empowered, because governments see devolution of control over land and resources as a threat to their authority.
The initiative to bring about active local participation through CAMPFIRE grew out of permissive legislation in the 1980s that allowed revenues derived from wildlife to accrue to District Councils rather than central government. The programme became operational in two districts in 1988, and by 1994 it had been extended to 22 districts. It is implemented by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management, in collaboration with the University of Zimbabwe, local and international NGOs, and an association of District Councils set up for this purpose.
CAMPFIRE is initiated in an area by its District Council, or by member communities working through their District Council, applying for and being granted authority to run the programme. Management is handled by council and community wildlife committees that receive training in fiscal and resource management. Programme activities involve planning of local hunting and fire management, control of poaching and other wildlife-related activities, and allocation of income. The main element is the generation of revenue through hunting concessions, trophy fees and safari operations developed through contracts or joint ventures with private sector operators.
In some areas, CAMPFIRE has had considerable success, increasing household and communal revenues, reducing poaching and problems from interactions with wildlife, and strengthening local conservation attitudes and practices. Success has usually required complex negotiation over group membership, household definition and revenue-sharing procedures, and is more likely to occur in areas with the poorest agricultural prospects, low populations, abundant wildlife and few alternative sources of income.
The principal problems have stemmed from the reluctance of District Councils to devolve real responsibility and authority to the communities or to distribute their full share of the revenue to the latter. The programme has become primarily a source of revenue for District Councils, which have often failed to involve the communities in planning and management to the degree called for in the CAMPFIRE agreements. The tendency for councils to capture wildlife revenue is being reinforced by the squeeze on their revenue from the central government as the latter implements austerity measures in pursuit of a structural adjustment strategy.
These problems can be aggravated by the differences that exist between the modern administrative structure of District Councils, and the reality of the local social and economic situations. Administrative boundaries may not coincide with the traditional boundaries of communities, and traditional leadership may not be represented satisfactorily in elected bodies. Councils typically preside over areas that are ecologically diverse and have different potentials and different problems with utilizing wildlife, differences that are not adequately reflected in council management plans and practices. Proposals to devolve authority from District Councils down to wards have been countered by arguments that wards are also units of local government and would be unlikely to solve the problems at the interface between state and community institutions.
As the success of the activities is sensitive to the balance between costs and benefits, attention also has focused on a number of economic issues. Operating costs, in particular the costs of the management structures created at the district level, have tended to be high. Within communities, there have been difficulties in creating benefit distribution mechanisms that reflect the differential impacts of costs related to wildlife management, e.g. compensating those who bear the brunt of costs of animal damage to crops.
It has been argued that these are primarily operational problems rather than flaws in the concept underlying CAMPFIRE, and that they can be overcome by drawing on the following lessons.
· CAMPFIRE is an option that should be considered only where farmers are in agreement that wildlife management is a competitive form of land use.
· To be successful it must bring together ownership, management, cost and benefit of wildlife in one institutional unit (i.e. authority as well as responsibility must rest with the communal regime).
· The scale of operation needs to be small enough for the managing community to be able to ensure adherence to rules, primarily through informal group pressure.
· The authorized local management entity needs to have the capacity to exercise control.
The CAMPFIRE experience has been developed for a particular situation. However, the progress it has made in devolving authority and control over wildlife resources to user communities has raised the possibility that it could provide a model for local management of other woodland resources in comparable institutional settings,
(IIED, 1994; Murombedzi, 1992; Murphree, 1996; Scoones and Matose, 1993)
Hill community forestry - Nepal
Van Panchayats - Uttar Pradesh, India
Joint Forest Management - India
Several of the more interesting examples of recent initiatives come from hill and other forested areas in Nepal and India, where forest departments have reversed the usual trend of increasing control over large tracts of degraded forests and have given specific powers to local institutions. In each case reviewed here, local people had some usufructuary rights that had been progressively reduced or restricted. However the forest department was unable to exercise effective control over the areas where it had legal control, and productivity was declining. At the same time, villagers had difficulty securing the forest products they needed. In order to resolve these problems, local control and authority were increased under agreements in which villagers would get a much larger share of future produce if they managed the forests to meet agreed conservation and sustainability criteria. The cases focus on the policy, legal and institutional changes initiated by governments in order to implement this, and on the implications and impacts at the community and user group level.
In the middle hills of Nepal, a generally roadless region where villagers remain extremely isolated because of the nature of the terrain, local supplies of arboreal fodder, green mulch, fuel and timber have always been, and remain, central to the local agricultural systems. Historically, forests were controlled under various forms of tenure, some feudal, some in the name of the state and some communal. Though many landowners sought to generate revenue from use of the forests, local people were generally allowed free access to products that they needed for their own use.
An overthrow of the feudal system in the 1950s brought an end to the privileges and power of the landowner classes. Their forests were brought under the control of the state, under the Private Forests Nationalization Act of 1957. Since the government was unable to exercise its authority in the remoter regions, this control was circumvented by many owners. Where there was strong local leadership, forests remained effectively under local control, and, as was mentioned earlier, many of the indigenous communal management systems date from this period. However, uncertainties over ownership, aggravated by concerns raised by the cadastral survey and formal demarcation of private land, led to widespread exploitation of forests and conversion of forest land to agriculture.
By the mid-1970s, forest depletion and degradation were leading to shortages of forest products in some areas. In 1978, the government passed legislation enabling substantial amounts of public forest land in the middle hills to be handed over to local communities to manage, in recognition of the practical difficulties of managing the country's dispersed forest resources through the forest department. Local management was to be achieved through the panchayats, the lowest level of political and administrative organization. Panchayats would enter into agreements with the government to manage local areas under agreed forest management plans. Participating panchayats were required to set up a Panchayat Forest Committee with the forest department providing an infrastructure of nurseries and extension staff, and financing for locally recruited nursery foremen and forest watchers.9 Funding and technical assistance were provided by a number of donors.
9 The programme also encouraged collective planting of denuded communal land. Much less progress has been made with this than with the development of collective management of existing forests. The programme also supported planting by farmers on their own land.
Progress was slow at first. Initially, the programme had to overcome the villagers' widespread suspicion that it was just another way of abrogating their customary rights. Panchayats usually proved to be unsuitable bodies to undertake local forest management, as the areas they administered seldom coincided with user group boundaries. Though forest management committees were formed, they seldom functioned as representative discussion and decision-making bodies. Management plans designed by the forest department to increase productivity tended to be neither technically acceptable nor intelligible to villagers. Cumbersome bureaucratic procedures surrounding authorization of the handover of forest lands to communities, the granting of permission to harvest and sell produce from communal forest areas, and the slow payment of revenue to the community discouraged local involvement.
Subsequently, a succession of adjustments has moved the government programmes in the direction of the indigenous control and management systems that many communities within the middle hill areas were practising spontaneously. The indigenous systems were typically based on user groups, rather than whole villages, wards or panchayats. User groups established simple and usually conservative management rules based on limiting harvesting by area, size or quantity of product, or by time of year, with the rules being enforced by means of forest watchers and social sanctions.
Following passage of the Decentralization Act in 1982, the government initiated a series of measures that shifted the focus from the panchayat to the user group,10 with more authority and responsibility progressively devolving to these groups. An important step in refining the system has been the recognition that there are different categories of users interested in a particular forest resource. These range from primary users who depend on the resource for all of their forest product needs, to secondary users who use it for a more limited purpose, and to other interest groups, such as collectors of medicinal products. Experience also showed that user group motivation (or lack of motivation) to engage in participatory forest management is related to factors such as manageable size, quality of resource and technical ease of management.
10 Replaced after the abolition of the panchayat system by elected Village Development Committees.
User groups now develop their own operational plans, set the prices at which the produce is sold and determine how surplus income is spent. Groups are being established at an increasing rate and are building steadily on the authority they have acquired through legal control over the resource. User groups are now coming together and sharing experiences in networking workshops and range-level planning exercises. Some are also becoming general local development organizations and are registering as NGOs in order to gain greater access to government services.
By early 1996, there were 3000 user groups, managing 200 000 ha (Department of Forests, 1996). The experience of the 1970s and 1980s has been entrenched in the 1989 Master Plan for the Forestry Sector. This has formalized much of the experimentation with new institutional formats, and the user group approach was given legal authority in the 1993 Forest Act. Ownership of the land remains with the state, but trees legally belong to user groups, though the state reserves the right to take back possession of the community forest if the terms and conditions of handover are not met. The state's role is thus defined as being that of a regulatory authority only. Management control rests solely with the users of the resource.
The approach to formalizing a collective system for managing local forest areas has proceeded further in Nepal than in most countries. There has been a steady decentralization of forest department staff and functions to the districts, and authority to transfer forest areas to user groups now rests with the District Forest Officer. Training has helped remove many of the impediments to and reservations about the process that forest staff had experienced earlier. Nevertheless, given the importance that control represents in terms of political and economic power, and the role that patronage and hierarchical structures play in the bureaucracy, it must be expected that further progress will still encounter some reluctance and even resistance from within the forestry establishment.
(Arnold and Campbell, 1986; Department of Forests, 1996; Fisher, 1989; Gilmour and Fisher, 1991; Hobley, 1996a; Malla, 1994; Molnar, 1981; Talbott and Khadka, 1994)
The Van (Forest) Panchayats of the Garwhal and Kumaon regions of the Uttar Pradesh hills represent one of the largest, longest running and most diverse experiments in collective systems of forest management developed in cooperation with the state. They were introduced in the 1920s by the civil administration after a prolonged period of intense agitation by villagers against a major expansion of British control over forest resources in the Uttar Pradesh hills. In order to resolve this dispute, a category of forest of little or no commercial importance was established to provide for local needs, to be managed by a village body (Van Panchayat) in accordance with a set of government regulations and legislation. The forest department retained control over timber and resin management in these areas, but the village received any profit made from sale of these products. Though many of these village bodies have ceased to function, new Van Panchayats continue to be formed. In 1995 it was reported that in the Kumaon region there were nearly 3000 Van Panchayats controlling 35 percent of the forests,
The panchayat body selects a leader from among its members, establishes management rules consistent with the authority established by the Forest Panchayat Act of 1931 (amended in 1976), establishes measures to ensure enforcement of these rules and manages the disbursement of funds that accrue from forest activities. The collection of a tax, either at harvest or monthly, reinforces the legitimacy of the local institution and provides the necessary funds at the village level.
Individual Van Panchayats have adopted a wide range of rules and regulations, which have evolved considerably over time in response to changes in the local situation. Where fair elections to the village bodies are held, most villagers have reported that they consider the management of the forest good and the distribution of the forest products equitable.
Forest resources are scarce in much of the region and there is competition among panchayats for forest products. Encroachment and illegal felling are the two main problems, especially if the first cases go unpunished. All the successful Van Panchayats have guards (paid in grain or cash) or rotate the responsibility for protection among households. Smaller panchayats that cannot afford to support a guard have difficulty preventing theft, open grazing and encroachment.
The focus in most Van Panchayats has been on production and distribution of annual products such as grasses and leaf fodder, apparently partly due to the degraded state of the original resource, but also due to delays and impediments in releasing the Van Panchayat's share of the proceeds from the resin tapping and the sale of timber controlled by the forest department. Where the level of annual use is kept to a reasonable level, natural regeneration has led to significant improvements in productivity. In many cases, however, the heavy demand for forest products has simply meant that harvesting has been shifted to other forest areas.
Opinions on the success of Van Panchayats vary widely, but key factors for such success as has been achieved appear to include the following:
· confidence in government mechanisms for adjudicating boundary disputes and larger-scale external incursions;
· confidence in leadership of the Van Panchayat (e.g. open elections if there is no longer a traditional leadership);
· ability to support a guard system against encroachment and illegal felling;
· internal rules that ensure equitable distribution of benefits and compliance with the rules; and
· a rule-making mechanism that allows rules to be changed as needed.
However, over the years, successive amendments to the regulations stemming from the Forest Panchayat Act, and changes in the manner in which they are interpreted and applied, have reduced the authority of Van Panchayats to enforce their rules. Now they can impose fines only with the consent of the rule breaker or with the permission of government officials or the judiciary. With the capacity of government services to provide assistance also becoming increasingly constrained, enforcement has tended to become more difficult and costly. While villagers are usually confident of their ability to control the use of relatively low-value annual products, the control of infringements involving higher stakes is reported to be problematic in some Van Panchayats.
(Agrawal, 1994 and 1996; Ballabh and Singh; 1988; Guha, 1983 and 1985; Saxena, 1987; Tripathi, 1987; Vidyarthi, 1987)
Joint Forest Management (JFM) developed from the experience of the Social Forestry programmes of the 1980s, and was intended to avoid some of the weaknesses and failures of the latter.11 To this end, JFM moved collective forestry from panchayat and revenue lands to forest lands, on which competing claims should be fewer and forest departments would have a clearer remit.
11 See the section on Social Forestry Village Woodlots in India, below.
The shift to JFM also reflected growing recognition that the earlier programmes had not kept forests from being exploited to meet local needs, and that the state does not have the capacity to control use and conservation of such resources without the cooperation of those who use them. The new initiative, therefore, built on a number of state- or project-level initiatives of the 1970s and 1980s that had incorporated such a strategy, with some apparent success. Of these, the one that attracted the most attention was a programme of Village Protection Committees in West Bengal.
The Village Protection Committees (VPCs) of West Bengal emerged in an area where most of the land was previously a mixed forest dominated by sal (Shorea robusta), which had been substantially altered by heavy cutting and more recent plantations. The VPCs had their origin in a pilot project started by foresters at Aribari in the early 1970s, designed to encourage villagers to stop using forest land for fuelwood cutting and cattle grazing, in return for guaranteed employment. Participating villagers were offered preferential access in their protected area to minor forest products such as sal and tendu leaves, and subsequently a 25 percent share of the income from sal poles and timber was added to their benefit.
The VPC members thus take responsibility for more of the protection and control of harvesting, in return for a substantially greater share of the eventual proceeds from the resource. Benefits go directly to specific users and are not redistributed by intermediary organizations. However, the scheme involves effective closure of large tracts of the forest for a period of years, which can create considerable hardship for those villagers who previously depended on collecting activities for income and fuel.
Despite the lack of a legal basis for the programme prior to a government order in 1989, nearly 1300 VPCs had been organized by that year. By 1992, the number had grown to 2300, covering 320 000 ha of forest. Originally the villages were chosen by the forest department, but the selection process has gradually given a greater voice to local panchayats. Initially, the forest department and local political leaders had a dominant role in determining the composition and running of the committees. Since a second government order in 1990 opened membership to all, most, if not all, households usually belong to the VPC, which selects its own officials (though the panchayat and the forest department are still empowered to determine which families are eligible to benefit from the programme).
Once VPCs had been established in the first 11 villages, VPCs have been organized and managed with no external financial or organizational assistance. It has therefore been a much less costly process than most collaborative management systems initiated in recent years. The approach has been most successful in villages on the border of extensive tracts of degraded forest land, where the forest-to-household ratio is relatively high and benefits accrue from minor forest products at a relatively early stage. As more areas approach harvesting age, it has become apparent that attention needs to be given to control of harvesting and to the level and distribution of proceeds. Forest department overhead charges on the first lots to be harvested and sold were high and, because the 25 percent share assigned to the communities is based on net income, their returns have been low.
Problems of boundaries between villages and of protecting the village resource from poaching by outsiders have been emerging, in addition to problems of devising production options for areas without sal forest, and these have underlined the need for a more effective microplanning process. There has also been a lag in registration of older VPCs because it is a time-consuming process. A need to modify bureaucratic procedures for convening VPC meetings has also been identified. Working groups made up of forest department, NGO and research institution staff have proven helpful in attempts to rectify these and other operational issues.
JFM as a National Programme12
12 This discussion draws in particular on the review study Participatory forestry: The process of change in India and Nepal (Hobley, 1996a).
On the strength of this and other encouraging experiences, the government of India issued a circular to state governments in June 1990 recommending the adoption of Joint Forest Management. The main features of this circular are summarized in Box 6. By 1995, 15 states had adopted such collaborative programmes involving local communities in the management and protection of forest lands in return for rights to use specified forest products.
This huge programme has attracted much attention in other countries and regions, as well as in India, and has been more closely examined than most. Though many of the individual initiatives in different states are still at an early stage, and have met with variable success, a number of lessons of general relevance have begun to emerge.
The strengthened claim on benefits from forest use provided by JFM generally improves the position of users, but this is not always the case. For example, a JFM arrangement may regularize earlier de facto arrangements that provided a very inequitable allocation of the resource among those involved. Indeed, there could be risk of disenfranchisement for those who benefited from earlier informal arrangements, and there is some evidence of marginalized groups being left worse off by the new arrangements. In addition, questions have arisen about how consistent the interventions are with the patron-client relationships that are so important in Indian villages, and about their impact on gender relationships. Issues can also arise about the claims of different categories of users of forest products from a particular resource. Should those adjacent to forests have priority in allocation of forest benefits over those further away, when the latter may be more reliant on this usage than the former?
Box 6: Key Features of the June 1990 Government of India Circular "Involvement of Village Communities & Voluntary Agencies in Regeneration of Degraded Forests"
· JFM should involve an 'arrangement' between the village community (i.e. the 'beneficiaries'), NGOs and the state forest department. The selected area of forest is to be managed in accordance with a working scheme approved by the state government and prepared "in consultation with the beneficiaries." The working scheme is to cover such matters as steps for inducement of natural regeneration, seeding, soil conservation methods, fire protection, maintenance of boundaries, weeding, tending, thinning, etc.
· Beneficiaries should be entitled to usufructuary rights to such items as grass, loppings and minor forest products in accordance with conditions set by the state. They may also be given a share of the proceeds from the sale of trees when they mature. They may also plant fruit trees "that would fit in with the overall scheme of afforestation."
· Only people who are willing to participate and who are organized in groups specifically for forest protection are to be made beneficiaries and thereby granted access and benefits. As an example, the circular mentions village panchayats or forest committees. However, whatever form it takes, the programme is to be focused on communities or user group subsets; the circular states explicitly that the access and benefits are not to be granted to individuals.
· Neither the beneficiaries nor any NGO may acquire ownership or lease rights over the land in question. No grazing or agriculture is allowed on the site.
· Ideally, the selected site should be free from the claims of anyone who is not a beneficiary. In other words, sites that are burdened by rights, privileges or concessions previously granted to anyone who is not part of the beneficiary group (e.g. someone from a distant village) are not preferable for JFM. Alternatively, the circular states that, for any given site, anyone who currently has a claim to forest produce should be given the opportunity to join the beneficiary group.
· The work of the beneficiaries is to be closely supervised by the Forest Department. If the work has been done in an unsatisfactory manner, "the usufructuary benefits should be withdrawn without paying compensation to any one for any work that might have been done prior to it."
Source: Lindsay, 1994
One recent study of these issues suggests that JFM is likely to be effective and appropriate if the user group and its forest area meet the following criteria: close physical proximity; prior or current formal or informal rights; high forest dependency; perceptions of resource scarcity; indigenous organizational forms of resource management; traditional socio-religious forest values; and strong local leadership (Sarin, 1993). Another study emphasizes the importance for success of JFM of a resource capable of providing a sufficient flow of benefits, the share of benefits between government and user group, and benefits that are commensurate with the costs the latter has to incur (Hobley, 1996a).
Another set of issues concerns the functioning of the communal or user group institutions authorized to be the local management body under a JFM agreement. There are reservations about panchayats assuming this role because, though they are elected, the power to make decisions usually rests with those with local political, economic or social power, and with the supervising bureaucracy. Panchayats are also generally too large to be effective as managers of small forest areas that serve the needs of particular parts of the panchayat constituency.
Therefore, JFM frequently requires the creation of a separate forest management body at the local level. However, it is difficult to do this in a participatory and democratic fashion that adequately represents the views of its constituent users. A particular issue in this respect is the effect of the considerable measure of control over such bodies by the forest department. The latter retains the right to dissolve forest committees if it thinks the committees have contravened the regulations, but is not accountable in any way that would enable committees to question its actions. The presence of forest officials in these groups can also militate against their ability to act independently.
Adapting to JFM also creates problems within forest departments. It has long been recognized that the shift from their traditional role of managing and protecting state forests to a role supporting outsiders who manage and use forests raises fundamental issues for foresters of organization, procedures, skills and attitudes. There has therefore been much focus on training and institution building. Now it is becoming evident that JFM can create more fundamental problems of conflict with the patron-client and rent-seeking relationships within public service organizations that are often the real determinants of institutional behaviour in forest departments. It is argued that, as long as JFM is seen as unlikely to provide the same basis for power and status within the department as control over a large area of forest territory, it will hold little appeal to many foresters.
Nevertheless, as is illustrated in Box 7, experience with JFM has already induced considerable adaptation and change in the right directions. There are also growing signs that, particularly among younger staff, the culture within forest departments is becoming more responsive to the underlying approach and principles.
Some of the analysis of the JFM experience also points to problems caused by lack of legal support for the programme, which is based on the 1990 central government circular and resolutions by state governments. No enabling legislation has been enacted, even though it has been argued that JFM appears to be in contradiction to current legislation, such as the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980. This weakens the JFM initiative and has created uncertainty about the extent to which village forestry bodies can be empowered legally. Uncertainty also exists as to which categories of forest could be made available for JFM; most states intend to assign 'degraded forest' from categories other than Reserved Forest.
Box 7: Changes in JFM Regulations and Practices in Haryana Brought. About by Government Resolutions
[Forest department] providing technical and managerial inputs
Building technical and managerial competence in the people
Rigid allocation norms for forest areas to be protected by FPCs1
Forest area defined on the basis of natural features and after consultation with neighbouring village representatives and intra-village groups
Having each household as a unit member
Two adults as members of the FPC (one male, the other female)
From a fixed managing committee membership size
The society may co-opt any other technical or respected person as a non-voting member after passing a general body resolution
An umbrella-sharing policy
Different percentage of shares for different commodities, i.e. 75% of share to HRMS2, khair 25%, fuelwood/timber 50%
Forests as a starting point
Taking up required activities as a catalyst, e.g. water, grass, bamboo
Fixed percentage-sharing arrangement
75% of the yield above the base-line production goes to the HRMS as an incentive for protection
Site specific JFM area rules, e.g. bamboo artisan rules
Rights to fine [rest] with the Haryana forest department
HRMS given the right to levy fines and introduce regulations; these fines go as income to HRMS
[Forest department] ranger as ex-officio Secretary
More power to the forest guard (since he has smaller areas to look after)
1 FPC: Forest Protection Committee.
2 HRMS: Hill Resource Management Society (user group institution)
Source: SPWD, 1992
Box 8: Lessons of Experience with Joint Forest Management in India1
1 Findings of a study for the World Bank of the incentives for Joint Forest Management.
· JFM provides a means whereby the state transfers some of its rights and responsibilities to locally constituted forest protection committees (FPCs). The overall benefits and incentives to support this approach are different for the state, the FPC and specific stakeholders.
· The primary objective of the process is to introduce joint management so that local perceptions are factored into decision-making. The underlying assumptions are that there is a convergence between the private incentives of forest users and the national objective of maintaining forest resources and that people will protect the forest since they have a stake in the outputs.
· Analysis suggests that this assumption is valid at the level of the FPC and that forest protection and conservation will become more effective under JFM.
· Analysis suggests that there are overall benefits to JFM in economic terms as a result of effective protection, and that to terms of revenue the economic benefits are more secure, again as a result of protection, However, for some subgroups within the FPC, the effect of better protection is to cut off access to their livelihoods, The extent to which the perceptions and values of these sub groups are factored into decision-making depends on the functioning of the FPC. The study concluded that in large, heterogeneous FPCs the poorer, less powerful groups were marginalized as a result of the institutionalization of forest management through JFM.
· The inclusion of local perceptions requires the active involvement of people in planning management and decision-making as well as in implementation. In practice, participation has been limited to protection activities and wage labour for crop establishment. As a result, JFM appeared to be similar to other forms of welfare forestry' and was often seen as just another funding scheme which, with people's participation, will enable the forest department to more effectively protect the forest. This is also reflected In the observation that JFM is associated with protection and planting rather than with management and decision-making.
· The introduction of JFM has formalized the role of the community in protecting the forest. However, there is still concern that decision-making is still biased towards timber and revenue production, since the opinions of socially weak subgroups and women, whose primary interests may be for non-wood forest, are not reflected in decision-making by the FPCs. The existing socio-economic relationships between subgroups within each FPC determine each subgroup's bargaining power. As a result of formalizing arrangements, subgroups that previously had only marginal interest in the forest now have a stake in the forest as a result of their share in revenue.
· There are positive incentives based on perceived benefits for both forest departments and FPCs under JFM. However, pre-existing contractual arrangements and uncertainties undoubtedly act as a disincentive for some FPCs.
· The underlying complexity of both biological and socio-economic relationships supports and reinforces the principles underlying JFM, that optimum resource management requires the active participation of local stakeholders within an overall regulatory framework.
Source: Derived from Femconsult, 1995
Some of these problems have arisen because of the speed and vigour with which JFM has been disseminated. Given the ecological and political diversity of India, it is very unlikely that a single JFM model would be applicable everywhere. The experience to date is bearing this out. Its relevance needs to be carefully assessed situation by situation, which should become easier as lessons of experience become clearer (e.g. the study findings summarized in Box 8).
(Hobley, 1996a; Kurup, 1996; Lindsay, 1994; Malhotra and Poffenberger, 1989; Poffenberger and McGean, 1996; Roy, 1991; Sarin, 1993; SPWD, 1992)
Communal forest stewardship agreements - The Philippines
Forest villages - Thailand
In much of the forest zone of the wet tropics there has been heavy encroachment of agricultural activities into the forest. The case studies that follow describe two large-scale examples of collaborative arrangements between governments and farmers in Southeast Asia. In both the Philippines and Thailand, a considerable share of the agricultural population farms on what is still classified as forest land, and the initiatives are designed to stabilize land use and maintain areas that should stay under tree cover as forest. These strategies incorporate several approaches. The focus here is on those that are centred on communal institutions and collective management.
The Philippines has experienced large-scale reduction and degradation of forest area because of logging and subsequent migration of farmers into the logged areas. Very large parts of the remaining forest overlap with territories of indigenous peoples. Since the late 1970s there has been increasing interest in community forestry as a means of meeting these issues. A number of different programmes have been put in place to stabilize the situation by strengthening tenurial security and access to government services for long-term residents in the upland forest areas. The rationale is that the presence of indigenous people practising suitable forms of agroforestry helps protect against destructive land use due to indiscriminate logging and in-migration by lowlanders. The programmes have been developed over time with the help of an Upland Working Group comprising government, NGO and academic/research representatives, building on the experience of earlier programmes. Issues that have arisen include overlapping of the various programmes, resistance from vested interests and the cumbersome nature of some of the bureaucratic requirements for implementation.
The largest of the present programmes is the Integrate Social Forestry (ISF) Program initiated in 1982.13 This is centred around the concept of 'stewardship', granting exclusive rights to use and occupy land for 25 years, renewable for another 25 years, to individuals, associations and indigenous communities. Most stewardship certificates have been issued to individuals (reportedly 256 000 certificates covering almost 586 000 ha by the end of 1993). However, most interest centres on the 36 Community Forestry Stewardship Agreements (CFSAs) granted to groups, because groups are likely to be more viable and stable than individual licensees (many of whom have been selling their licences), and agreements with groups cover relatively large areas that require proportionately less administrative inputs to set up and monitor.
13 There are two other large programmes. Community Forestry Management Agreements are designed to encourage reforestation and arc typically awarded to contractors who then hire-people to do the planting. Forest Land Management Agreements allow communities to contract to manage and protect an area of forest for 25 years in return for the right to harvest timber in the area.
Early versions of the programme were weakened by the exclusion of various categories of forest, notably areas licensed to companies for which they have contractual reforestation obligations. Successive revisions have strengthened the position of stewardship license holders, but stewardship licenses still tend to be confined to degraded forest. Procedures for establishment of CFSAs remain complex. A group has to establish itself as a non-profit corporation, carry out a survey to establish its perimeter, draw up a management plan, etc., fulfilling a set of requirements it is unlikely to complete successfully without outside help and creating the risk that licensees become dependent on external support. Most successful applications have involved assistance from a NGO (but it is reported that it has been difficult to locate NGOs able to provide assistance in such a complicated bureaucratic process).
The elaborate procedures also have placed considerable burdens on the supporting government service, the Department for the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). In addition to staff shortages, the DENR has had to face the usual problems of forest departments as they reorganize themselves to serve a supportive role, with field staff tending to view the programme more in terms of its effectiveness in meeting governmental land use objectives than in terms of empowerment of local user groups. The very rapid rate of expansion of the granting of individual certificates has also strained DENR's capacity to monitor licensee performance.
But there is a commitment to the concept and to proceeding with further refinement, staff training and other measures, in order to rectify such weaknesses. A 1991 decision to decentralize government services and involve local government units in the ISF Program should in due course strengthen the effectiveness of the institutional support structure. The programme has already been effective in increasing tenure security, though conflicts between indigenous and migrant groups arise, and there can be uncertainties over prior claims to the land. Moreover, concern has been expressed that CFSAs and the other agreements have the potential to provide only limited tenurial security. Ownership remains vested in the state, and CFSAs can be revoked by the DENR if the latter considers that the community has failed to comply with the terms of its CFSA. There has consequently been growing interest among long-term occupants of forest areas in Certificates of Ancestral Domain Claims, which cannot be revoked by the government, but delineation of ancestral domain perimeters by the DENR has reportedly been slow.
(Borlagdan, 1990: Gasgonia, 1991; Gibbs et al., 1990; Lynch, 1992; Lynch and Talbott, 1995: Plantilla, 1991; Sabban, 1992; Seymour and Rutherford, 1990)
In recent decades, Thailand has experienced rapid and sustained reduction in forest cover. Until recently, the country's vigorous economic growth was accompanied by heavy logging and expansion of agriculture into large areas of forests. An estimated one-fifth of the area presently under agriculture is within the boundaries of land legally classified as forests. This expansion is the result of in-migration into upland forest-dwelling populations practising swidden agriculture, and of encroachment by lowland farmers seeking additional land.
The government has responded to this reduction and degradation of the forest resource, and accompanying erosion and other environmental damage, with a number of measures designed to stabilize the land use situation, improve the productivity and sustainability of agriculture on sites suitable for crop production, and retain or restore forest cover on critical non-agricultural areas. These measures have been characterized by expansion of the area classified as state forest lands and increasing control over activities by those present within these areas. The focus has been on confining local activities to 'production' forests, excluding all activity from the very large areas now classified as parks or as other categories of conservation area.
An early component of this drive was the forest village programmes run by the Royal Forest Department (RFD) and other government agencies. The objective in such programmes was to regroup people already farming inside the forest into villages, in order to facilitate provision of infrastructure and services, stabilize the area under cultivation and encourage reforestation. Each village household was allocated a plot of arable land that could be cultivated for a specified period, supported by extension services to encourage farmers to adopt agroforestry systems and grow tree crops. In addition, employment was provided to villagers in adjacent reforestation and other forest management activities. A second government programme allocated land and temporary land use rights (STK) certificates to settlers in existing villages within the forests.
First initiated in the mid-1970s, the process of creating forest villages was expanded considerably in the mid-1980s, in response to the perceived urgency of the situation in the forest areas. This expansion encountered a number of the difficulties that forest departments are likely to meet in initiating local collective management of forest resources, and in coming to terms with the new concerns and approaches this entails. Much of the subsequent research and experimentation to improve the programmes consequently has focused on creating a more decentralized structure, training staff to work with villagers and identifying effective village-level institutions to work with.
There have been difficulties in persuading people to resettle in designated villages, as land allotments were generally smaller than the areas they already occupied, and funds were sometimes insufficient to provide adequate support to farmers in the establishment phase. The tree crops recommended by the programmes were often unattractive to farmers, particularly when the plots of land available were insufficient to meet subsistence food needs. Uncertainties over tenure were frequent, because of competing claims by those already settled in the area based on informal systems of tenure, and complex and often confusing legislation relating to land rights and use. In many areas, a continued influx of outsiders seeking allocations of land led to population densities in excess of what could be sustained on the arable areas available. The mixture of local and migrant populations often created highly factionalized villages, making it difficult for village committees to command support from all sections of the community.
Consequently, progress has been variable. Where villages have not been subjected to disruptive population and social pressures, encouraging progress has sometimes been made. This has been facilitated by formation of interdisciplinary and inter-agency working groups that have brought academic and NGO social science experts together with the foresters in the RFD. However, the village forestry programme has been costly, and the focus has increasingly shifted to the National Forest Land Allotment Project, which assigns rights to use forest land to individuals rather than communities.
(Amyot, 1988; Anan Ganjanapan, 1995; Chuntanaparb et al., 1993; Hafner and Apichatvullop, 1990; Lynch and Talbott, 1995; Potisoontorn, 1990; Pragtong, 1988; Pragtong and Thomas, 1990)
Social forestry village woodlots - India
Village forestry - Republic of Korea
The case studies in this section describe two very large national programmes in which governments intervened to encourage communities to create new communal tree resources on their own land. In both cases this was precipitated by concern to reduce excessive pressures on remaining natural forests, and to do so by finding solutions that enabled rural people to meet their needs for fuelwood and other forest products themselves. Both involved attempts to develop new or modified community-level institutions to manage the activities, and the development and delivery of an extensive package of facilitating and support measures.
One of the largest interventions designed to increase the production of forest products on communal lands and strengthen local collective management has been the programme of communal woodlots established under Social Forestry programmes and projects in India. Social Forestry had its origins in the country in 1976, when a report of the National Commission of Agriculture recommended growing trees on lands accessible to village people in order to reduce the pressures on production forests caused by mounting rural demands for fuel, grazing and other forest products. This was to be achieved in a number of ways, one of which was to establish woodlots on non-arable communal land, to be managed collectively by the user community, through the panchayat system. Initiated in most states in the early 1980s, the programme expanded very rapidly.
The woodlots have been established mainly on village lands, and other uncultivated government lands available to villagers for communal use (e.g. revenue lands), in the drier plain areas of the country. Traditionally the main role of such common pool resources has been to complement the highly variable level of private agricultural production, by providing a major source of fodder, food and saleable products. This is especially important during extended periods of drought.
During recent decades much of the cultivable common land has been reduced by the land allocations to the rural poor discussed in the previous section, and by encroachment. Much of the rest of the common land is of low productivity. Although there are substantial regional differences, communal lands have generally been reduced to small areas, averaging 20 ha per village, and are typically heavily degraded and under open access usage. As a consequence, Social Forestry programmes in several states encountered shortages of available plantable land. Another consequence has been that the area of woodlot available to a community is often too small to contribute significantly to local needs.
The woodlots were usually established by the state forest departments, and the village lands to be planted were frequently transferred into the temporary control of that department for this purpose. Planning of the woodlot was intended to be carried out in conjunction with the local government body, the panchayat or some other community-level body, which was to take over responsibility for management in accordance with rules prescribed by the forest department and a management plan drawn up jointly with the latter. Benefits were to be split between the forest department and the community.
Under forest department management, the projects have created primarily tree stocks and wood products to be sold, with few intermediate products, such as fuelwood and grass, that previously were harvested from the areas and used by villagers. There is widespread evidence that village and panchayat bodies now perceive the Social Forestry woodlots primarily as significant sources of communal income, rather than as sources of produce to meet village needs. For this reason, there is usually a preference for auctioning the output, rather than selling it at preferential rates or distributing it free. The main benefit to the poor has usually been from the wage employment created, often on a considerable scale.
Although many of the woodlots have been in existence for quite a few years, there has been reluctance on the part of the panchayats to assume control. This seems to reflect a number of factors.
· Control entails financial responsibilities that villages and panchayats have difficulty meeting, such as, at a minimum, hiring watchers to protect the woodlot. Sometimes the budgetary implications are much more burdensome. In one state, for example, the panchayat had to pay a deposit equal to the floor value of the produce in the woodlot before taking it over.
· Woodlot management plans, village forest rules, etc., are often complex and unclear, and require skills and experience that panchayats do not possess. Very few communities have any experience in managing anything remotely resembling a woodlot, and the task of acquiring the necessary skills is complicated by management systems that reflect forest departments' technical approach to forestry.
· Continued involvement of the forest department discourages local bodies from taking over and encourages them to opt for extending forest department management. Handover arrangements commonly empower forest departments to exercise considerable control and involvement, and to retain a share of the revenue. As this is often allied with pressures on forest departments to meet very ambitious Social Forestry planting targets, they are frequently reluctant to hand over effective control.
· Lack of local interest in the woodlots because of their small size (relative to local needs), difficulties in ensuring satisfactory distribution of benefits, and uncertainties about their status and access to the benefits are additional factors.
Some of these problems reflect the lack of dialogue between forest departments and villagers concerning the purpose of and arrangements for the woodlots. The literature reports an almost universal failure to precede woodlot establishment with effective public discussion. There have been frequent reports of villagers being unaware that the woodlot had been established for the community; it was a 'government woodlot.' Often even village and panchayat officials have appeared unaware that a woodlot was to be handed over to them, nor were they aware of the implications of such a transfer. Where people have been aware of this, there usually has been lack of belief that the produce would be distributed within the community; most people did not expect any share of the final output.
The programme has also suffered from an uncertain legal situation. Social Forestry initiatives in some locations have been legally questionable, for example, using land on which legislation prohibited the growing of trees. In other situations, existing legislation that could legitimize Social Forestry actions has not been implemented. As a result, the legal status of the woodlots is often unclear, and the rights of prospective users are seldom secured by a legal document.
Though successful in increasing the productivity of the sites used and in generating a resource of considerable value to the communities, the interventions have had a different outcome from that intended.
· Use of the common land has shifted from producing products for local use to generating income for use by the community as a whole.
· Government involvement in management has in practice increased rather than decreased.
· Costs per unit of output have been high.
Though the tens of thousands of woodlots that have been established under the programme continue to be managed, the focus of support for local collectively managed forestry in India has shifted from woodlots outside the forest to the programmes of joint management within the forest that were reviewed earlier in this chapter.
(Arnold and Stewart, 1991; Chambers et al., 1989; Jodha, 1986 and 1990; World Bank/USAID/GOI, 1988)
The reforestation carried out by Village Forestry Associations (VFAs) in Korea represents one of the most successful examples of collective action by groups of forest product users working with the support of the state. During the 1970s and early 1980s, 643 000 ha of denuded land were replanted under the programme. The programme is also notable for the range and extent of prior planning and preparation that accompanied it, and because it dealt with private rather than public land.
The village forestry programme was initiated by the government in response to growing shortages of fuelwood and mounting problems of erosion, flooding and downstream damage to agriculture as hillsides were stripped bare by harvesting for fuel and timber. As 73 percent of forest land was in private ownership, and many private landholdings were small, any move to improve the situation had to focus on the local level and be based on local involvement.
The government initiative to encourage and support village-level reforestation built upon a tradition of forestry cooperatives. These were voluntary organizations operating in many areas to protect local forest resources, with varying degrees of effectiveness. The forestry programme in the 1970s was also created within the broader structure of the Saemaeul Undong, or New Community Movement, established in 1970 as a framework for collective self-help actions of all kinds. It had evolved in response to village-level changes, including land reform that turned tenants into landowning farmers, a weakening of the clan structure that had earlier provided the basis for village cooperation, and the emergence of more modern and egalitarian forms of village government. Saemaeul Undong projects were to be decided by consensus, and they were to involve activities for the common benefit of the village rather than the interests of particular villagers, and to reflect the particular situation and potentials of the village.
VFAs were established in all villages, and were grouped at county level into forestry associations (FAU), which in turn were members of a national federation (NFFAU). The rationale for establishing this network was that a non-governmental organization would be more effective than a government agency in mobilizing villagers to cooperate. The Office of Forestry, which was relocated to the Ministry of Home Affairs to give it access to local government resources and powers, provided technical backstopping and funding. New legislation and regulations required that forestry should be the main land use on lands with a slope of more than 36 degrees, and empowered the Office of Forestry to require landowners unable to reforest lands falling under this law to make that land available to VFAs to reforest on a cost-sharing basis.
Heads of all households in a village were members of their VFA. VFA activities benefited from subsidized credit, but members had to contribute their labour (with benefits being allocated proportionately). The technical packages introduced were strongly oriented towards short-term results and income generation, with planting of fruit and timber species as well as fuelwood, and an array of commercial activities (e.g. contracting nursery activities to village groups, employment in related government watershed protection works, and encouragement of production and marketing of mushrooms and other non-wood products).
A significant feature of the programme was its holistic nature. The Koreans set out to tackle all aspects of the fuelwood problem, while at the same time devising solutions that contributed more widely to rural welfare. Specific factors identified as having contributed to its success include:
· an incremental or step-by-step approach, with emphasis on results and identification of realistic village potentials at each stage;
· a blend of top-down and bottom-up planning, with emphasis on cooperation between government and citizens;
· attention to development of appropriate technology, technical assistance and extension, with timely delivery of needed inputs;
· financial and other assistance geared to self-help to avoid problems of village dependence on outside support; and
· formulation and application of strong, clear laws and regulations that empowered and provided authority to the VFAs and involved villagers in policing activities and preventing unauthorized use of the resources (Gregersen, 1982).
The programme thus contained strong elements of both government pressure and incentives to get it started, but as its effectiveness became evident at the village level it acquired a momentum of its own. Subsequently, large-scale rural-to-urban migration in the 1980s, and the rapid rise in rural incomes and access to electric power and other services, greatly reduced the demand for fuelwood, so the programme has had to be radically restructured in favour of timber crops and much less labour-intensive inputs.
(Gregersen, 1982; Oh, 1988)