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In some places forests and trees are disappearing; in others, tree cover is increasing. What creates the incentives to foster and manage, or to cut and run? What creates disincentives to invest time and other resources in tree and forest management? Many governments, projects, communities, and organizations are struggling with questions about how to create the enabling conditions for improved short- and long-term local livelihoods and public services through effective management of forest areas.

In a global environment of great economic and political change, there is also growing interest within many national governments to change property rights radically. This raises a number of concerns for forests that need to be managed in larger units, than say agricultural land, if they are to produce the variety of products and environmental outputs desired by the various interested persons and groups. When is it most effective to vest the management of forests in local community members as individuals or as groups, and under what conditions will industries or government agencies manage the resource more effectively to reach production, social, and environmental goals? Throughout the 1990s, member governments sent requests to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for organizational and technical support for forest management, as well as for advice about appropriate forestry resource policies, legal frameworks, and market orientation.

In the early 1990s, FAO brought together an advisory group of specialists focused on issues of managing forests as common property. They urged FAO to strengthen the data available and its analysis. The group pointed out that there were many types of forest products and that frequently several community groups with different perceptions and rules for managing selected products were in any one forest at a given time. To understand the dynamics of forest use and management with this many variables, new tools were needed. This sentiment was echoed by FAO member countries who urged the development of a multidisciplinary and multilevel integrated database allowing comparison over time and between sites, as well as more nuance in interpretation.

The Community Forestry Unit's (CFU) Forests, Trees and People Programme (FTPP) was indeed fortunate to be able to work with Dr. Elinor Ostrom and her highly dedicated professional team at Indiana University to initiate the International Forestry Resources and Institutions (IFRI) research program. IFRI is not a questionnaire but rather a methodology and research protocol to organize information in a relational database that captures variation and interrelationships in the complex of factors that influence forest management. IFRI methods start with a forest and move out to all people who have an interest in its use and health. In Chapter 1, the methodology has been described as "multilevel, multi-country over-time study of forests and institutions that govern, manage, and use them."

FAO has found the IFRI approach to be especially cost effective. It takes less time than many research methodologies and can form a basis for addressing a number of immediate as well as long-term questions. Case studies without common protocol have been carried out in great number. Unfortunately, since they use different questions and methods, there was great waste and need for new studies as new issues arose. These scattered studies offered no way to compare contrasting situations even in the same region. When studies had full information about a small community, they often lacked data on the market or the policy context in which the community lived. Some studies were rich in data about the health of the forest but gave no information about existing forest institutions, use, and management. A study that shows that forest areas are degraded without incorporating the other relevant factors is impossible to use in making wise policy changes. IFRI has information to address all these research weaknesses.

IFRI information is also useful when new questions arise. For example, in Uganda when researchers were asked how to incorporate demographic and population issues into training materials on forest management planning, they were able to quickly provide especially rich information by overlaying demographic data on previously collected IFRI data. IFRI works with the philosophy that IFRI centers are based in the countries themselves and reports of findings are made to the communities, to field personnel, and to host country policymakers and the data is left in the country. IFRI does not extract research and run.

In this Working Paper the authors have drawn from their data to look at specific research hypotheses. The purposes of the original studies vary. Chapter 7 is built on researchers working as partners with Yuracare people to document their historical territory and its current usage. This issue is of great concern to the Yuracare, as the Bolivian government is demarcating land areas and wishes to be able to demonstrate their claims as well as have a basis for developing management plans.... Some studies have benefitted project planners and management by offering a better understanding of local use and rules as well as technical knowledge for the planning phase and over time monitoring the effects of project activity on the people as well as on the trees. Other studies have been made in order to inform government policy. The fact that this is also an international network of researchers with centers in Uganda, Bolivia, Nepal, Senegal, and other countries means that there is a support group with which researchers may discuss questions and a bigger database from which to establish hypotheses and develop queries.

The FAO wishes to thank the advisory committee for stimulating this process and all those community members, field staff, and donors who have invested in the development of this new and exciting approach.... A very special thanks goes to the researchers and the training and backstopping team at Indiana and at the other centers who have dedicated so much time and effort in assuring a very high quality research to better understanding the relation between people and the forests on which they depend.

Other documents related to community-based forest and tree management

The Community Forestry Unit (CFU) and the Forests, Trees and People Programme (FTPP) have developed a series of documents supporting the understanding of local forest and tree management and focusing on three aspects: tenure, institutional and legal analysis, and communal management. It is intended that these documents will be relevant to policymakers as well as practitioners in forestry programmes. The entire set of documents will be useful to universities and training centres. They are available at the Community Forestry Unit, FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, Rome 00100, Italy.


A concept paper examines and clarifies the issues of tenure related to community forestry (Community Forestry Note 5, Community forestry: rapid appraisal of tree and land tenure, 1989). A field manual presents rapid appraisal tools for field use (Community Forestry Field Manual 4, Tree and land tenure: rapid appraisal tools, 1994). A case study from Nepal adapts and illustrates the use of the methodology to obtain tenure information for project management (Community Forestry Case Study 9, Tree and land tenure in the Eastern Terai, Nepal. A case study from the Siraha and Saptari Districts, Nepal, 1993). A case study from Madagascar illustrates the use of the field manual in policy analysis (Community Forestry Case Study 10, Tree and land tenure: using rapid appraisal to study natural resource management. A case study from Anivorano, Madagascar, 1995).

Institutional and legal analysis

A concept paper analyzes elements for understanding rules followed by stakeholding groups related to attributes of the tree resource and to incentives or disincentives for community members to expand or to manage existing tree and woodland resources (Community Forestry Note 10, A framework for analyzing institutional incentives in community forestry). A field manual applies these concepts to field conditions for increasing successful planning, implementation, and evaluation of forestry activities (Community Forestry Field Manual 7, Crafting institutional arrangements for community forestry, 1997). A working paper is being developed that analyzes the legal environments in which local forest management takes place and in what ways these often vulnerable systems can be supported through laws and regulations (to be published in 1998).

Communal management

This group of publications starts with an analysis of relevant literature from Latin America, Asia, and Sahelian African (Community Forestry Note 11, Common forest resource management: annotated bibliography of Asia, Africa and Latin America, 1993). This publication raised issues confirming that literature from the various sites in different or even the same regions was not comparable as consistent data had not been collected from site to site. The various articles and research protocol for the International Forestry Resources and Institutions (IFRI) was partially in response to this issue. This working paper, Forest Resources and Institutions, illustrates the crucial research questions IFRI can address, while seeking to stimulate greater interest in the IFRI approach and the work of its researchers.


Clark Gibson, Margaret A. McKean, and Elinor Ostrom (Chapter 1): We wish to thank the Forests, Trees and People Programme at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations for their consistent support since the initiation of the International Forestry Resources and Institutions (IFRI) research program. The entire program would have been inconceivable but for their consistent support throughout the years. We wish to particularly thank Marilyn Hoskins, Krister Andersson, Hivy Ortiz, and Katherine Warner. We also wish to thank the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the National Science Foundation for their support of individual projects within this broad research program. We also thank the colleagues and students for the hard work and thoughtful criticisms they have contributed to the IFRI research program over the years. Special thanks also to Patty Dalecki for her invaluable skills and effort in the editing and preparation of this volume.

Margaret A. McKean (Chapter 2): This paper was presented at the International Conference on Chinese Rural Collectives and Voluntary Organizations: Between State Organization and Private Interest, Sinological Institute, University of Leiden, 9-13 January 1995, and is based on portions that I contributed to a paper coauthored with Elinor Ostrom, "Common Property Regimes in the Forest: Just a Relic from the Past?," Unasylva 46(180) (January 1995), 3-15. I would like to thank David Feeny and an anonymous reviewer for thoughtful suggestions. I remain responsible for any errors.

Arun Agrawal (Chapter 3): I owe this paper, in more ways than I can mention, to the immense cooperation I received from villagers in Kumaon and the Kumaon Forest Panchayat Research Team. Special thanks go to Sushree Meenakshi Shailaja and Sri Nikunj Bharati, Taradutt Pandey, and Tara Singh Bisht. Mark Baker, Clark Gibson, Margaret McKean, Elinor Ostrom, Kimberly Pfeifer, Jesse Ribot, Mary Beth Wertime, and Jonathan Lindsay provided valuable comments through the various drafts of this paper. Discussions at the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Bloomington, Indiana, as we worked on the IFRI instruments, proved invaluable during fieldwork. I would also like to acknowledge the cheerful help I received from Julie England and Joby Jerrells in the analysis of data for the paper. Patty Dalecki was, as usual, sterling in her editorial efforts. Grants from the Division of Sponsored Research, Tropical Conservation and Development Program, and the World Wildlife Fund made the fieldwork possible. The research was also assisted by a grant from the Joint Committee on South Asia of the Social Science Research Council and the American Council of Learned Societies with funds provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Ford Foundation.

Abwoli Y. Banana and William Gombya-Ssembajjwe (Chapter 4): We would like to thank the residents of the settlements around Echuya, Mbale, Bukaleba, Lwamunda and Namungo Forests. We would also like to thank the Ufric team Members: A. Nakaweesi, G. Nabanoga, M. Kapiriri, P. Kizito, J. Bahati, G. Mwanbu, S. Sekindi, and S. Matovu. We would also like to thank E. Ostrom and C. Gibson for the helpful comments on the manuscript.

Charles M. Schweik (Chapter 5): I am very appreciative of the support received from the Ford Foundation and Dr. John Ambler. The FTPP of the Food and Agriculture Organization has also been quite helpful through on-going support to the IFRI program. Special thanks go to Mr. Rajendra Shrestha, Director of the Nepal Forestry Resources and Institutions Consortium, and his team, Bharat Mani Sharma, Mukunda Karmacharya, Vaskar Thapa, and Sudil Gopal Acharya for their efforts in data collection. I am also grateful to K.N. Pandit, K.R. Adhikari, A.K. Shukla, Ganesh Shivakoti, and the Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science in Rampur, Chitwan, for their assistance in the field. I am indebted to Dusty Becker, Brenda Bushouse, Clark Gibson, Joby Jerrells, Robert and Joanne Schweik, and John Williams for helpful comments on earlier drafts. Finally, I am deeply grateful for the kindness and support given by the residents of the Shaktikhor VDC.

C. Dustin Becker and Clark Gibson (Chapter 6): The authors would like to thank Carmen Bonifaz de Elao, Professor of Botany at the University of Guayaquil, for her help in directing, collecting, and analyzing forest plot data; the support of Earthwatch and its volunteers for their hard work in carrying out this study; and Joby Jerrells, Miriam Lewis, Claude Nathan, Elinor Ostrom, George Varughese, and Rich Wolford for their constructive comments on this paper.

C. Dustin Becker and Rosario Leon (Chapter 7): We thank Julie England and Robin Humphrey for assistance with data compilation. Clark Gibson, Fabrice Edouard Lehoucq, and Elinor Ostrom kindly critiqued early drafts of the paper. Funding for fieldwork and the opportunity for the authors to collaborate was provided by FAO, Ford Foundation, CIPEC, CERES, and the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis of Indiana University. We recognize the following IFRI researchers who made this synthesis possible: José Antonio Arrueta, Nelson Castellón, Daniel Chávez Orosco, Freddy Cruz, Antonio Guzmán Suárez, Fernando Miranda, Ignacio Nuñéz Ichu, Juan Carlos Parada Galindo, Antonio Patino Salazar, Benancio Rodriguez Bolivar, Miguel Rodriguez Chávez, Patricia Uberhuaga, and Galia Vargas.

George Varughese (Chapter 8): I gratefully acknowledge the support of the Forests, Trees and People Programme of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the United Nations Population Fund (INT/94/040), the Hills Leasehold Forestry and Forage Development Project of His Majesty's Government of Nepal/FAO/IFAD, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University. This paper is the first of a series of comparative studies of forest institutions drawing on the International Forestry Resources and Institutions research program in Nepal which is currently coordinated by Keshav Kanel and Shree Gobind Shah. I thank the members of the program team, especially Parsu Ram Acharya, Sudil Gopal Acharya, Mukunda Karmacharya, and Birendra Karna for their diligence and support during fieldwork, and the Nepali villagers who were generous and patient with our inquiries during visits to their locations. I am grateful to Elinor Ostrom and Clark Gibson for detailed comments on several drafts of this paper. I also acknowledge Paul Turner, Robin Humphrey, and Neeraj Joshi for their help at various stages of preparing this paper.


Arun Agrawal teaches comparative politics at Yale University. The empirical focus of his work is forest-using communities and pastoralists in India and Nepal. He has also written on narrative formations around development, environmental conservation, community, and indigenous knowledge, and on the theoretical aspects of institutions and common property. He has written for journals including Development and Change, Human Ecology, Journal of Theoretical Politics, Peace and Change, and World Development. His book regarding nomadic shepherds in India, Greener Pastures: Politics, Markets, and Community among a Migrant People is forthcoming from Duke and Oxford University Presses.

Abwoll Y. Banana is a senior Lecturer in the Department of Forestry, Makerere University and a Research Associate at the Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR). He has a bachelor of science degree in Forestry from Makerere University (1977), a master of science degree in Wood Science and Technology from the University of California, Berkeley (1979), and he holds a Ph.D. from the Australian National University, Canberra (1985). He is co-leader of the Uganda Forestry Resources and Institutions Center (UFRIC), which is studying the relationship between local communities and their forests in Uganda.

C. Dustin Becker received her master of science degree from Yale and Ph.D. from Alberta. She is currently a research associate at the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University. She is continuing her work regarding local-level management of natural resources in Ecuador by, among other things, studying land tenure issues among local-level farmers and examining the moisture-trapping characteristics of coastal forests.

Clark Gibson is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Indiana University, and a Research Associate with the university's Center for the Study of Institutions, Population, and Environmental Change (CIPEC). A large portion of his research explores the institutions and politics of natural resources, especially forest and wildlife resources in Africa and Latin America, at both local and national levels. His work has appeared in journals such as Human Ecology, Comparative Politics, and World Development. His forthcoming book Politicians and Poachers: The Political Economy of Wildlife Policy in Africa (Cambridge University Press) examines the politics of wildlife management at multiple levels in Zambia, Kenya, and Zimbabwe.

William Gombya-Ssembajjwe has a master of science degree from the Australian National University and Ph.D. from the University of Wales, Bangor. He is the leader of the Uganda Forestry Resources and Institutions Center at Makerere University and a Senior Lecturer in the Forestry Department there.

Rosario Leon is a sociologist at the Centro de Estudios de la Realidad Economica y Social (CERES) in Cochabamba, Bolivia. As the facilitator of the FTPP in Bolivia, she has been working with IFRI since 1994.

Margaret A. McKean received her Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. She is a faculty member in the Department of Political Science at Duke University, where she teaches environmental politics and policy and Japanese politics. In the last decade, she has been working on the evolution of common property rights and on politics as a struggle over the production of public goods, in Japan and elsewhere. She is currently completing a manuscript on the management of common-pool goods and public goods in conditions of unusual scarcity in Japan. She served as president of the International Association for the Study of Common Property in 1995-1996.

Elinor Ostrom is Co-director of the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis and the Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science at Indiana University, Bloomington. She is the author of Governing the Commons (1990) and Crafting Institutions for Self-Governing Irrigation Systems (1992); coauthor with Larry Schroeder and Susan Wynne of Institutional Incentives and Sustainable Development (1993); and co-author with Roy Gardner and James Walker of Rules, Games, and Common-Pool Resources (1994).

Charles M. Schweik is a Ph.D. candidate in Public Policy at Indiana University. He has a master's degree in Public Administration from Syracuse University and an undergraduate degree in Computer Science. His dissertation, entitled "The Spatial and Temporal Analysis of Forest Resources and Institutions," relates human incentive structures and human activities to forest condition measures collected both in the field and through temporal sets of Landsat multispectral satellite images. Results of his recent research appear in Mountain Research and Development and The Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal.

George Varughese is a Ph.D. candidate in Public Policy at Indiana University. He has a master's degree in Business Administration and an undergraduate degree in Life Sciences. He is currently researching the. organization of collective action for the governance and management of forest resources in Nepal from an institutional analysis perspective. He is also interested in the institutional design of partnerships between local communities and government officials for the governance and management of natural resources. He has recently co-edited People and Participation in Sustainable Development: Understanding the Dynamics of Natural Resource Systems with Ganesh Shivakoti, Elinor Ostrom, Ashutosh Shukla, and Ganesh Thapa.

Mary Beth Wertime served as the International Forestry Resources and Institutions (IFRI) research program coordinator and a research associate at the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis until 1996. She has a master's degree in Public Administration from American University. She has worked in Cameroon and Mali on agro-forestry program planning and evaluation, and in Ghana, the Ivory Coast, and countries in Latin America over the past 15 years.

Acronyms and Abbreviations

CBS Central Bureau of Statistics

CENR Committee on Environment and Natural Resources

CERES Center for the Study of Economic and Social Reality

CGIAR Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research

CIPEC Center for the Study of Institutions, Population, and Environmental Change

CRC Collaborating research center

DBH Diameter at breast height

DFO District forest office

FTPP Forests, Trees and People Programme

GIS Geographic information system

GPS Global positioning system

IAAS Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science

IAD Institutional analysis and development

IFRI International Forestry Resources and Institutions

IRR Incident rate ratio

MLE Maximum likelihood estimation

NSF National Science Foundation

NAS National Academy of Sciences

NEAP National Environmental Action Plan

NGO Nongovernmental organization

OLS Ordinary least squares

PRA Participatory rural appraisal

RC Residence council

UFRIC Uganda Forestry Resources and Institutions Center

UNCED United Nations Conference on Environment and Development

UNDP United Nations Development Programme

USAID United States Agency for International Development

VDC Village development committe


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