Devolution of forest rights and sustainable forest management (Volume 1): A review of policies and programs in 16 developing countries
A significant amount of global forest area is publicly owned and managed, but in recent years several governments have implemented or proposed policies to devolve rights to forest-based communities. This paper examines the policies and practices that are related to the devolution of forest management in 16 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Research goals & methods
The researchers study the impact of devolution on ecological outcomes and livelihoods in the 16 countries through case studies and a review of recent large-scale studies. They focus their analysis on features of forest tenure, policy, user groups, economic conditions, and forest types in these case studies.
Conclusions & takeaways
The authors find that there are still several ambiguities in forest reforms relating to devolution which grant forest official considerable discretion in the implementation of policies. While recent evidence suggests that devolution has positive ecological and livelihood benefits, forest agencies have been slow to implement policies related to devolution, where they exist. They also find that community management institutions have weakened over years of centralized forest governance, even though they continue to exist. They recommend granting legal recognition to customary tenure, restructuring forest agencies so their focus shifts from law enforcement to forest management, conducting more research on the links between devolution and ecological and livelihood outcomes, and building the capacity of communities to participate effectively in ecosystem markets.
Lawry, S. et al. (2012). Devolution of forest rights and sustainable forest management (Volume 1): A review of policies and programs in 16 developing countries. USAID.
- Harvard Kennedy School
- Institute for Culture and Ecology
- University of Alberta