Social and Ecological Synergy: Local Rulemaking, Forest Livelihoods, and Biodiversity Conservation
Decentralized forest management with local community involvement is often viewed as a way to incentivize sustainable forest use through enhanced local knowledge, shared accountability, and perceived legitimacy. However, the effectiveness of decentralized management towards these goals is unclear both theoretically and in practice. There are few systematic multicountry empirical analyses that identify important factors and their complex relationships with social and ecological outcomes.
Research goals & methods
This review examines biodiversity conservation and forest-based livelihood outcomes using a data set of social, ecological, and governance data from 84 sites in six countries in East Africa and South Asia. The authors classify the outcome relationships between tree species richness and forest-based subsistence livelihoods on the basis of above- or below-average levels for each of our two indicator variables, relative to other forests in the same forest type in the data set. The approach focuses on three joint-outcome categories where (i) species richness and livelihoods contributions are both above average (sustainable forest systems); (ii) species richness and livelihoods are both below average (unsustainable forest systems); and (iii) either species richness is above average relative to other forests and livelihoods are below average, or species richness is below average but livelihoods are above average (trade-off forest systems).
Conclusions & takeaways
All possible combinations of relationships between forest-based subsistence livelihoods and tree species richness are present in the data. The existence of multiple patterns of relationships underscores the relevance of analyses that seek to identify factors responsible for facilitating or impeding trade-offs and synergies across social and ecological outcomes. Participation in forest governance institutions by local forest users is strongly associated with jointly positive outcomes for forests in our study.
Social and Ecological Synergy: Local Rulemaking, Forest Livelihoods, and Biodiversity Conservation. Science. 2011;331:1606–1608. doi:10.1126/science.1199343..
- School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, 440 Church Street, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
- Department of Geography, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 607 South Mathews Avenue, Urbana, IL, USA