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Does decentralization work? Forest conservation in the Himalayas

Author

Listed:
  • E. Somanathan

    () (Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi)

  • R. Prabhakar

    () (Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment)

  • Bhupendra Singh Mehta

    () (Foundation for Ecological Security)

Abstract

This paper studies the effect of decentralization of management and control on forest conservation in the central Himalayas. The density of forest cover (measured with satellite images and field surveys) in forests managed by village councils is compared with that in state-managed forests and in unmanaged village commons. Geographic proximity and historical and ecological information are used to identify the effects of the three types of management regimes. Village council management does no worse, and possibly better, at conservation than state management and costs an order of magnitude less per unit area. Relative to unmanaged commons, village council management raises crown cover in broadleaved forests (the type of forest that may provide the most benefits to villagers under the rules) but not in pine forests.

Suggested Citation

  • E. Somanathan & R. Prabhakar & Bhupendra Singh Mehta, 2005. "Does decentralization work? Forest conservation in the Himalayas," Indian Statistical Institute, Planning Unit, New Delhi Discussion Papers 05-04, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, India.
  • Handle: RePEc:ind:isipdp:05-04
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    File URL: http://www.isid.ac.in/~pu/dispapers/dp05-04.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Baland, Jean-Marie & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 2000. "Halting Degradation of Natural Resources: Is There a Role for Rural Communities?," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198290612.
    2. 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.
    3. Sethi, Rajiv & Somanathan, E, 1996. "The Evolution of Social Norms in Common Property Resource Use," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 766-788, September.
    4. Pranab Bardhan, 2002. "Decentralization of Governance and Development," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(4), pages 185-205, Fall.
    5. Andrew D. Foster & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2003. "Economic Growth and the Rise of Forests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(2), pages 601-637.
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    Cited by:

    1. Takahashi, Ryo & Todo, Yasuyuki, 2011. "Impact of Community Management on Forest Protection:Evidence from an Aid-Funded Project in Ethiopia," Working Papers 31, JICA Research Institute.
    2. Ouarda Merrouche, 2007. "The Long Term Effect of Education Spending Decentralization on Human Capital in Spain," Working Papers 200708, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    3. World Bank Group, 2014. "Strategic Framework for Mainstreaming Citizen Engagement in World Bank Group Operations," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 21113.

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