Key forest management research results published

Published on
May 8, 2017

Community forest management: An assessment and explanation of its performance through QCA

A paper has recently been published about a key research area in the Forest & Nature Conservation Policy (FNP) group of Wageningen University. Community Forest Management (CFM) — ranging from community-based to co-management regimes — has become an influential approach in the management of forests around the world in the last couple of decades. In response to some of the adverse effects of state forestry and commercial timber production, CFM claims to improve local livelihoods and conserve forests. Many international organizations, donors, NGOs, and governments therefore advocate CFM. However, a vast body of literature reveals that the overall results are mixed. This paper contributes to this literature in two ways. By building upon neo-institutionalism in CFM studies, the paper uses a practice-based approach as a theoretical lens to better understand how and why CFM institutions are successful or not. In addition, the paper applies a Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) methodology to conduct a systematic cross-case comparison, while allowing for some generalization. By analyzing a decade of CFM research at the FNP group, this paper compares and synthesizes 10 CFM cases from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. It concludes that: (1) CFM does indeed present mixed results; (2) CFM performs similarly on social and ecological parameters; (3) overall, community-based  organizations are strongly engaged in CFM; (4) such strong engagement though is not sufficient for CFM to perform; and (5) in particular, the presence of a ‘‘Community of Practice" that links local people to external forest professionals for mutual learning, based on respect and trust, makes a positive difference in terms of livelihoods and forest conditions.

The paper is written by Prof. dr. Bas Arts and Jessica de Koning; it is published in Elsevier's World Development series.