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Forests to the People: Decentralization and Forest Degradation in the Indian Himalayas

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  • Jean-Marie Baland

    () (University of Namur)

  • Pranab Bardhan

    () (University of California, Berkeley)

  • Sanghamitra Das

    () (Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi)

  • Dilip Mookherjee

    () (Institute for Economic Development, Boston University)

Abstract

Most analyses of the impact of community management of common property resources are based on cross-sectional comparisons in case studies or small samples, perception-based measurement of resource conditions, and absence of controls for unobserved community characteristics and non-random assignment of management types. This paper compares forests managed by local community groups called Van Panchayats (VPs), with protected and unprotected state forests in the Indian state of Uttaranchal. We utilize ground-level ecological measures of forest quality including canopy cover, biomass, lopping and regeneration in 399 forests accessed by residents of a random sample of 83 villages in the mid-Himalayan region of Uttaranchal. Raw differences between VP and non-VP forest quality indicate no significant differences. We find evidence consistent with the hypothesis that these understate the benefits of VP management owing to endogenous selection, since more degraded forests are more likely to be converted to VP forests. Controlling for forest geography, unobserved village characteristics and cross-forest spillovers, VP forests are significantly less lopped, and similar on other dimensions. The lopping differences are greater the longer the forest has been under a VP.

Suggested Citation

  • Jean-Marie Baland & Pranab Bardhan & Sanghamitra Das & Dilip Mookherjee, 2008. "Forests to the People: Decentralization and Forest Degradation in the Indian Himalayas," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-169, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bos:iedwpr:dp-169
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ghazala Mansuri, 2004. "Community-Based and -Driven Development: A Critical Review," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 19(1), pages 1-39.
    2. Varughese, George & Ostrom, Elinor, 2001. "The Contested Role of Heterogeneity in Collective Action: Some Evidence from Community Forestry in Nepal," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 747-765, May.
    3. Beck, Tony & Nesmith, Cathy, 2001. "Building on Poor People's Capacities: The Case of Common Property Resources in India and West Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 119-133, January.
    4. Baland, Jean-Marie & Bardhan, Pranab & Das, Sangmitra & Mookherjee, Dilip & Sarkar, Rinki, 2007. "Managing the Environmental Consequences of Growth: Forest Degradation in the Indian mid-Himalayas," India Policy Forum, National Council of Applied Economic Research, vol. 3(1), pages 215-277.
    5. 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.
    6. Edmonds, Eric V., 2002. "Government-initiated community resource management and local resource extraction from Nepal's forests," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 89-115, June.
    7. Jean-Marie Baland & Pranab Bardhan & Sanghamitra Das & Dilip Mookherjee & Rinki Sarkar, 2010. "The Environmental Impact of Poverty: Evidence from Firewood Collection in Rural Nepal," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(1), pages 23-61, October.
    8. Ballabh, Vishwa & Balooni, Kulbhushan & Dave, Shibani, 2002. "Why Local Resources Management Institutions Decline: A Comparative Analysis of Van (Forest) Panchayats and Forest Protection Committees in India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(12), pages 2153-2167, December.
    9. Dasgupta, Partha, 1996. "The economics of the environment," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(04), pages 387-428, October.
    10. Wade, Robert, 1987. "The Management of Common Property Resources: Finding a Cooperative Solution," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 2(2), pages 219-234, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Robin Burgess & Matthew Hansen & Benjamin A. Olken & Peter Potapov & Stefanie Sieber, 2012. "The Political Economy of Deforestation in the Tropics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(4), pages 1707-1754.
    2. Poudel, Narayan Raj & Fuwa, Nobuhiko & Otsuka, Keijiro, 2015. "The impacts of a community forestry program on forest conditions, management intensity and revenue generation in the Dang district of Nepal," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(02), pages 259-281, April.
    3. Sikor, Thomas & He, Jun & Lestrelin, Guillaume, 2017. "Property Rights Regimes and Natural Resources: A Conceptual Analysis Revisited," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 337-349.
    4. Cook, Nathan J. & Wright, Glenn D. & Andersson, Krister P., 2017. "Local Politics of Forest Governance: Why NGO Support Can Reduce Local Government Responsiveness," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 203-214.
    5. repec:eee:ecolec:v:143:y:2018:i:c:p:64-73 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Bouma, Jetske A. & Joy, K.J. & Paranjape, Suhas & Ansink, Erik, 2014. "The Influence of Legitimacy Perceptions on Cooperation – A Framed Field Experiment," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 127-137.
    7. Jean-Marie Baland & Pranab Bardhan & Sangharmitra Das & Dilip Mookherjee, 2009. "Forest Degradation in the Himalayas: Determinants and Policy Options," Working Papers 1002, University of Namur, Department of Economics.
    8. 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.
    9. Keijiro Otsuka & Ridish Pokharel, 2014. "In search of appropriate institutions for forest management," GRIPS Discussion Papers 13-25, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.
    10. Shi, Miaoying & Yin, Runsheng & Zulu, Leo & Qi, Jiaguo & Freudenberger, Mark & Sommerville, Matthew, 2016. "Empirical linkages between devolved tenure systems and forest conditions: Selected case studies and country experiences," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 286-293.
    11. Mohebalian, Phillip M. & Aguilar, Francisco X., 2016. "Additionality and design of forest conservation programs: Insights from Ecuador's Socio Bosque Program," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 103-114.
    12. James Copestake, 2010. "Microfinance and development finance in India: research implications," Working Papers CEB 10-028, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.

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