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Using a multilevel approach to analyse the case of forest conflicts in the Terai, Nepal


  • Satyal Pravat, Poshendra
  • Humphreys, David


Recent years have witnessed an intensification of forest-related conflicts between various stakeholders in Nepal, particularly between the state and local people, over the control, management and use of forests in the southern plains of the Terai. This paper analyses the multiple dimensions of conflicts in Terai forestry policy and practice using a multilevel approach. Multilevel forest conflicts in the Terai are explained as a nested concept, existing at different overlapping levels (ranging from the global level to households). At one pole, Terai forestry can be understood in terms of conflicts of interest between Nepal's national concerns for development and global concerns for environmental protection. At the other pole, access to and control of lands and forests and opportunities for participation in a family environment (intra-household and interpersonal levels) are based on inequalities of gender (male domination of women) or age (family head or older members prevailing over younger family members). In between the two poles of global and household levels are other identifiable levels of conflict in Terai forestry: state versus community; inter-community (between various groups); and intra-community conflicts (along dimensions of class, caste, ethnicity, gender, religion, and age). This paper situates and applies the idea of multiple levels of conflict to various dominant regimes of forest management in the Terai and argues that the issue of land and forest control, and hence dimensions of forest conflicts in the Terai, are not only an issue of global–state–community conflict, but are also driven by undercurrents of ethnicity (e.g. hill-origin versus plain-origin people), migrants versus indigenous groups (inter-community conflict), and other intra-community differences. In so doing, the paper develops and applies a multilevel analytical approach to understand how different governance regimes influence, and are influenced by, social heterogeneity and conflict across multiple scales. It is argued that methodologically the multilevel approach outlined in this paper can be used as a comprehensive framework in the analysis of complex issues of forest and land use conflict elsewhere.

Suggested Citation

  • Satyal Pravat, Poshendra & Humphreys, David, 2013. "Using a multilevel approach to analyse the case of forest conflicts in the Terai, Nepal," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 47-55.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:forpol:v:33:y:2013:i:c:p:47-55
    DOI: 10.1016/j.forpol.2012.09.013

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Chakraborty, Rabindra Nath, 2001. "Stability and outcomes of common property institutions in forestry: evidence from the Terai region of Nepal," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 341-353, February.
    2. Pokharel, Ridish K., 2012. "Factors influencing the management regime of Nepal's community forestry," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(C), pages 13-17.
    3. Gautam, Krishna H., 2006. "Forestry, politicians and power--perspectives from Nepal's forest policy," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 175-182, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Yadav, Bhagwan Dutta & Bigsby, Hugh & MacDonald, Ian, 2015. "How can poor and disadvantaged households get an opportunity to become a leader in community forestry in Nepal?," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 27-38.
    2. Ojha, Hemant R. & Ford, Rebecca & Keenan, Rodney J. & Race, Digby & Carias Vega, Dora & Baral, Himlal & Sapkota, Prativa, 2016. "Delocalizing Communities: Changing Forms of Community Engagement in Natural Resources Governance," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 274-290.
    3. repec:eee:forpol:v:83:y:2017:i:c:p:156-161 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Zachrisson, Anna & Beland Lindahl, Karin, 2013. "Conflict resolution through collaboration: Preconditions and limitations in forest and nature conservation controversies," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 39-46.
    5. Paudel, Naya S. & Vedeld, Paul O. & Khatri, Dil B., 2015. "Prospects and challenges of tenure and forest governance reform in the context of REDD+ initiatives in Nepal," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 1-8.
    6. Lacuna-Richman, Celeste & Devkota, Bishnu P. & Richman, Mark A., 2016. "Users' priorities for good governance in community forestry: Two cases from Nepal's Terai Region," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 69-78.


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