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Research Report

Adaptive Collaborative Management of Community Forests in Asia: Experiences from Nepal, Indonesia and the Philippines

Robert Fisher
Ravi Prabhu
Cynthia McDougall
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2007
Pages: 242
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. v-vi)
    Fikret Berkes

    The easy ‘solutions’ offered by centralised resource management no longer work, and the era of top-down decision making is all but over. Some of the new directions that have been proposed include learning-based approaches in place of set management prescriptions, using a broader range of knowledge (including local and indigenous knowledge), dealing with uncertainty and complexity, and of course the sharing of management power and responsibility. Resource management has become not a search for the optimal solution but an ongoing learning and collaboration process for shared problem solving.

    Adaptive management is a way of dealing with uncertainty and complexity; collaborative...

  2. (pp. 1-15)
    Robert Fisher, Ravi Prabhu and Cynthia McDougall

    Towards the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, media reports globally are filled with warnings of actual and impending impacts of climate change on human and natural systems. The energy crisis is apparent in spiralling costs of fossil fuel and a race to find alternative energy sources; biofuels are under discussion and cereal prices have more than doubled as a result. Massive demographic and land-use shifts are taking place as a result of migration, population growth, urbanisation, pandemics, the expansion of agriculture and shifts in tenure systems.

    Those changes and stresses reverberate in forest areas across Asia,...

  3. (pp. 16-49)
    Ravi Prabhu, Cynthia McDougall and Robert Fisher

    In the previous chapter we discussed the importance of flexibility in decision making, management and action, and we argued that this is especially critical in the sphere of forests because so much is unknown and changing. John H. Holland (1998: 248), who popularised genetic algorithms and is one of the world’s leading researchers of complex adaptive systems—such as forests—formulated the following question to guide his own investigations into the behaviour of such systems: ‘How can the interactions of agents produce an aggregate entity that is more flexible and adaptive than its component agents?’

    Although Holland used the question...

  4. (pp. 52-92)
    Cynthia McDougall, Hemant Ojha, Raj Kumar Pandey, Mani Ram Banjade and Bishnu Hari Pandit

    Community forests in Nepal are vital to both local livelihoods and environmental integrity. Moreover, the Community Forestry Programme in Nepal is considered a world leader in the field of participatory environmental governance. Despite the success of Nepal’s programme in formally handing over rights to thousands of local forest user groups, however, it has not yet fulfilled expectations regarding increased returns to forest users and regarding equity in governance and in the distribution of management burdens and benefits. Specifically, one of the main concerns is that some of the most marginalised groups of forest users are often not gaining as anticipated...

  5. (pp. 93-133)
    Trikurnianti Kusumanto

    This chapter shares the experiences of CIFOR and partners’ Indonesian research team² in adaptive collaborative management (ACM) in Jambi, central Sumatra, and Pasir, East Kalimantan. Through social assessment combined with participatory action research, the research project sought insights on the preconditions, strategies and outcomes of fostering learning-based collaboration among different actors in forest management. The researchers hypothesised that by creating opportunities for shared learning among forest actors, forest initiatives using an ACM approach could contribute to more equitable and effective management of Indonesian forests by local people.

    The chapter starts by describing the context of forest management in Indonesia. It...

  6. (pp. 134-161)
    Eva Wollenberg, Ramses Iwan, Godwin Limberg, Moira Moeliono, Steve Rhee and Made Sudana

    Social institutions are essential to guiding cooperation amongst groups with different interests. But how can cooperation occur where such institutions are weak and unable to protect and accommodate the interests of the less powerful? In this chapter, we describe the experience of facilitating local communities to manage their forest in Malinau District, Indonesia, during the Otonomi Daerah reform period (begun in 1998), when social institutions for cooperation were unstable, uncertain and rarely shared, and where local groups competed intensely to capture benefits from forests.

    The case examines how a CIFOR research team² sought to strengthen local communities’ access to forest...

  7. (pp. 162-207)
    Herlina Hartanto

    Community participation in the management of forests and other natural resources has received growing attention from scholars, policy makers, donor agencies and nongovernmental organisations. This reflects an increased realisation that natural resources are complex and their management cannot be handled by the state alone. The Philippines attempted to engage communities in the management of its vast forests much earlier than most other countries in Asia. Its community forestry policy has been described as one of the most innovative in Southeast Asia, and the designed transfer of rights over forest resources to communities has been called impressive (Lynch 1993; Colchester 1994)....

  8. (pp. 208-228)
    Cynthia McDougall, Ravi Prabhu and Robert Fisher

    The case studies presented in Chapters 3, 4, 5 and 6 provide insights into whether, and under what conditions, an adaptive collaborative management approach contributes to improved outcomes for people and forests. The ACM approach was applied in very different contexts by research teams that brought their own interests and emphases to the process of participatory action research. Although this creates challenges in drawing meaning across cases, it also illuminates the diverse realities of community-based forestry systems and thus lays the foundation for the lessons.

    In drawing our conclusions, we explore the lessons of CIFOR’s Adaptive Collaborative Management Research Project...