Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Research Report

Though all things differ: Pluralism as a basis for cooperation in forests

Eva Wollenberg
Jon Anderson
Citlalli López
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2005
Pages: 112
  • Cite this Item

Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-4)

    This guide is about how to meet the needs of different groups in forests, especially where they conflict. As the world’s forests continue to decline in area and quality, clashes are rising. Loggers, miners, farmers, plantation managers, hunters, trekkers, conservationists, scientists, educators, indigenous people, mushroom collectors, water bottlers and global carbon traders all want their share of the forest. These different groups often have their own rules, agencies and authorities for making decisions, or bring different types of knowledge, perceptions and skills to how they use the forest.

    Three challenges arise from these differences:

    How can people manage the resulting...

  2. (pp. 5-14)

    Pluralism refers to the co-existence of many values or other human traits in a society with the purpose of enabling individuals to pursue happiness (Box 1). It views the coexistence of differences in values as real, unavoidable and potentially useful and good.

    Although pluralism has its roots in a number of cultural and philosophical traditions around the world, it only emerged as a coherent and documented ethical doctrine in the 20th century (Box 2). According to this doctrine, no single set of values can make all people happy all the time. People are inherently different from each other, and even...

  3. (pp. 15-34)

    Differences are the building blocks of pluralism. The first part of this chapter examines how people need social differences, but are also uncomfortable with them. It looks at why people choose to be different or similar from each other and the biases this creates. The discussion draws especially from the work of Kelly and Breinlinger (1996), Brewer (1991) and Snyder and Fromkin (1980).

    In the second part of the chapter the kinds of differences that commonly occur among people in forest situations are discussed. These include differences in interests, group identity, institutions and practices. The merits of addressing pluralism in...

  4. (pp. 35-44)

    Legal pluralism and policies that support pluralism are concerned primarily with regulation and focus on legal institutions as instruments for governance. Legal pluralism also provides a framework for understanding that people often deal with more than one system of rules at a time and the relationship among these legal institutions can help explain people’s behavior.

    The main challenge of legal pluralism is how people can make legitimate and enforceable decisions where they are faced with overlapping and conflicting laws and authorities. Where policies try to support pluralism, the main challenge is how they balance the interests of the state against...

  5. (pp. 45-73)

    Multistakeholder processes (MSPs) are courses of action where two or more interest groups provide their views, make a decision or coordinate an activity together. MSPs have become an important approach for supporting people’s direct participation in decisions. They are a popular strategy for building collaboration and managing conflicts among competing interest groups. Like teams, MSPs can bring together diverse knowledge and talents that spawn innovation and adaptive management.

    Many groups see the use of MSPs by civil society as more a flexible, efficient and responsive alternative to heavily politicized, bureaucratic government processes (see Box 21). Yet the legitimacy of MSPs...

  6. (pp. 75-84)

    In the 1990s, some people began promoting pluralism in organizations as a means for improving the organization’s performance. They argued that organizations with diverse staff competencies were better at solving problems, more innovative, and responded more flexibly to changes. Diversity was often organized in task-oriented teams. This chapter summarizes the principles about diversity and teams to show another very different way in which an aspect of pluralism can be a basis for cooperation. The discussion draws from materials of the Training Resources Group, Inc., and the work of David Thomas and Robin Ely (1996), and Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith...

  7. (pp. 85-88)

    If we want to maintain forest resources into the future, more pluralism is required. The inherent complexity of forests ecosystems as well as the increasing numbers of people, demands and multiple legal authorities interested in them, require new approaches to solve problems based on more diverse mix of skills, experiences, social networks and knowledge

    This guide has shown why pluralism is relevant to how people cooperate to use and conserve forests together. Pluralism is an ethical foundation for a fundamentally new approach to forest decision-making that is as much about recognizing differences as it is about finding agreements. Pluralism acknowledges...