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Gender and forest conservation: The impact of women's participation in community forest governance


  • Agarwal, Bina


Would enhancing women's presence in community institutions of forest governance improve resource conservation and regeneration? This paper focuses on this little addressed question. Based on the author's primary data on communities managing their local forests in parts of India and Nepal, it statistically assesses whether the gender composition of a local forest management group affects forest conservation outcomes, after controlling for other characteristics of the management group, aspects of institutional functioning, forest and population characteristics, and related factors. It is found that groups with a high proportion of women in their executive committee (EC)--the principal decision-making body--show significantly greater improvements in forest condition in both regions. Moreover, groups with all-women ECs in the Nepal sample have better forest regeneration and canopy growth than other groups, despite receiving much smaller and more degraded forests. Older EC members, especially older women, also make a particular difference, as does employing a guard. The beneficial impact of women's presence on conservation outcomes is attributable especially to women's contributions to improved forest protection and rule compliance. More opportunity for women to use their knowledge of plant species and methods of product extraction, as well as greater cooperation among women, are also likely contributory factors.

Suggested Citation

  • Agarwal, Bina, 2009. "Gender and forest conservation: The impact of women's participation in community forest governance," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(11), pages 2785-2799, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:68:y:2009:i:11:p:2785-2799

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Westermann, Olaf & Ashby, Jacqueline & Pretty, Jules, 2005. "Gender and social capital: The importance of gender differences for the maturity and effectiveness of natural resource management groups," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(11), pages 1783-1799, November.
    2. Agrawal, Arun & Chhatre, Ashwini, 2006. "Explaining success on the commons: Community forest governance in the Indian Himalaya," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 149-166, January.
    3. Agarwal, Bina, 2001. "Participatory Exclusions, Community Forestry, and Gender: An Analysis for South Asia and a Conceptual Framework," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(10), pages 1623-1648, October.
    4. Agarwal, Bina, 2000. "Conceptualising Environmental Collective Action: Why Gender Matters," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(3), pages 283-310, May.
    5. Bardhan, Pranab, 1993. "Analytics of the institutions of informal cooperation in rural development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 633-639, April.
    6. Neera M. Singh, 2001. "Women and Community Forests in Orissa: Rights and Management," Indian Journal of Gender Studies, Centre for Women's Development Studies, vol. 8(2), pages 257-270, September.
    7. Baland, Jean-Marie & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 1999. "The Ambiguous Impact of Inequality on Local Resource Management," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 773-788, May.
    8. Agarwal, Bina, 2009. "Rule making in community forestry institutions: The difference women make," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(8-9), pages 2296-2308, June.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Women, population, and the age of the ‘Black Swan’
      by (author unknown) in Grist Business and Technology on 2011-10-03 16:14:56


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    Cited by:

    1. Coulibaly-Lingani, Pascaline & Savadogo, Patrice & Tigabu, Mulualem & Oden, Per-Christer, 2011. "Factors influencing people's participation in the forest management program in Burkina Faso, West Africa," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 292-302, April.
    2. Craig Leisher & Leah H. Samberg & Pieter Van Buekering & M. Sanjayan, 2013. "Focal Areas for Measuring the Human Well-Being Impacts of a Conservation Initiative," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(3), pages 1-14, March.
    3. Wong, Sam, 2014. "Can climate finance achieve gender equity in developing countries?," WIDER Working Paper Series 064, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    4. David Martin, 2013. "Gender Concerns When Noah the Economist Ranks Biodiversity Policies," Working Papers 13-02, Davidson College, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2016.
    5. Sunderland, Terry & Achdiawan, Ramadhani & Angelsen, Arild & Babigumira, Ronnie & Ickowitz, Amy & Paumgarten, Fiona & Reyes-García, Victoria & Shively, Gerald, 2014. "Challenging Perceptions about Men, Women, and Forest Product Use: A Global Comparative Study," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 64(S1), pages 56-66.
    6. St. Clair, Priscilla Cooke, 2016. "Community forest management, gender and fuelwood collection in rural Nepal," Journal of Forest Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 52-71.
    7. repec:eee:forpol:v:80:y:2017:i:c:p:63-70 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Colfer, Carol J. Pierce, 2011. "Marginalized Forest Peoples’ Perceptions of the Legitimacy of Governance: An Exploration," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(12), pages 2147-2164.
    9. Pandit, Ram & Bevilacqua, Eddie, 2011. "Forest users and environmental impacts of community forestry in the hills of Nepal," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(5), pages 345-352, June.
    10. Pete Parker & Brijesh Thapa, 2011. "Distribution of benefits based on household participation roles in decentralized conservation within Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Project, Nepal," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 13(5), pages 879-899, October.
    11. Behera, Bhagirath, 2009. "Explaining the performance of state-community joint forest management in India," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 177-185, November.
    12. Nancy McCarthy & Talip Kilic, 2015. "The nexus between gender, collective action for public goods and agriculture: evidence from Malawi," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 46(3), pages 375-402, May.
    13. Kiran Asher & Annie Shattuck, 2017. "Forests and Food Security: What’s Gender Got to Do with It?," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(1), pages 1-16, March.
    14. Nkonya, Ephraim M. & Srinivasan, Raghavan & Anderson, Weston & Kato, Edward, 2014. "Assessing the economic benefits of sustainable land management practices in Bhutan:," IFPRI discussion papers 1361, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    15. Annemarie Westendorp & Leontine Visser, 2015. "Farmer Field Schools: Unexpected Outcomes of Gendered Empowerment in Wartime Nepal," Journal of Asian Development, Macrothink Institute, vol. 1(1), pages 1-22, October.
    16. Felix, Mwema, 2015. "Future prospect and sustainability of wood fuel resources in Tanzania," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 856-862.
    17. World Bank Group, 2014. "Strategic Framework for Mainstreaming Citizen Engagement in World Bank Group Operations," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 21113.
    18. Monica Ogra, 2012. "Gender and community-oriented wildlife conservation: views from project supervisors in India," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 407-424, June.
    19. David Martin, 2014. "An integrated biological and economic individual-based model of tiger protection measures," Working Papers 14-04, Davidson College, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2014.
    20. Ngigi, Marther W. & Okello, Julius J., 2013. "Gender differentiated motivation for coastal forest conservation: the case of Lower Tana River Forest," 2013 AAAE Fourth International Conference, September 22-25, 2013, Hammamet, Tunisia 161467, African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE).
    21. Kumar, Pradeep & Kant, Shashi, 2016. "Revealed social preferences and joint forest management outcomes," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 37-45.
    22. Morales, Margaret C. & Harris, Leila M., 2014. "Using Subjectivity and Emotion to Reconsider Participatory Natural Resource Management," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 703-712.


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