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The demand by international researchers and development workers for more knowledge about Common Property Resource Management and collective action has grown rapidly. Common Property Resources (CPRs) is a topic of intense interest today, especially in light of the great stress on changing land and tree tenure systems in the search for more sustainable forest resource management through privatization or collective action.

The purpose of this study is to introduce some of the literature on Common Forest Resource Management from Asia, Africa and Latin America. It is recognized that the three regional reviews of both published and unpublished sources and the issues analyses which constitute this document are not complete. However, it was decided to publish this material in order to present information known to date and identify gaps in our understanding of this important topic.

Each of the authors describes and analyses the local systems of Common Forest Resource Management and the role of externally sponsored assistance, particularly through projects. Key issues are highlighted such as systems of tree and land tenure, the general erosion of traditional rights, the reactions of rightholders to change, and measures taken to assert old rights or establish new ones. Rather than examining the same issues across regions, the regional chapters work to highlight the key issues for each given geographic zone. As a result, the same issues are not always confronted for all places.

Perhaps the most important outcome of this compilation of the literature is the invitation to re-examine the conditions under which systems of collective management of natural resources are efficient and hold development potential. A belief in the viability and utility of local, collective, natural resource management regimes guides this study of the CFR management. One of the lessons of the regional studies is that the potential to save and sustain the world's tree and forest resources exists in large measure in the traditions and actions of rural societies.

This study is part of the Community Forestry Notes Series which is a compilation of concept papers that develops the understanding of the major issues in community forestry. The authors welcome submissions from readers of titles that may be missing from or have been overlooked by this study.

Funding for the book was provided by the multidonor Forest, Trees and People Trust fund which is devoted to increasing the sustainability of women and men's livelihoods through self-help management of tree and forest resources. Within FAO the Programme is coordinated by Marilyn W. Hoskins, Senior Forestry Officer (Community Forestry).

M.R. de Montalembert
Director, Forestry Policy and Planning Division
Forestry Department

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