Nesting local forestry initiatives: Revisiting community forest management in a REDD+ world
Understanding the relationship between components of varied decentralized governance models for community or collaborative management and forest conservation outcomes has taken on renewed importance in the context of community engagement in forest conservation efforts through policies to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). In this paper, we synthesize lessons from two comparative case studies of decentralized forest management in Mesoamerica and East Africa in order to examine the institutional factors that contribute to successful tropical forest management in developing countries and, draw insights for policymakers regarding how national policy initiatives, including REDD+, might better embed local level institutions for forest management within broader state institutions and promote more positive local livelihoods and forest conservation outcomes. The case studies presented in this synthesis used a consistent research framework to gather data on forestry reforms, governance processes, local forest institutions, household forest uses and forest conservation outcomes. Our synthesis suggests that successful sustained forest management depends on institutional arrangements that (1) establish local resident rulemaking autonomy, (2) facilitate the flow of external financial and institutional assistance for monitoring and enforcement of local rules, and (3) buffer residents and their respective local institutions from more powerful, and at times corrupt, actors and agencies involved in forest exploitation. The results particularly suggest a role for external, independent non-governmental organizations to help mediate demands on local forest governance systems in nested contexts.
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