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Research Report

Forests of Learning: Experiences from Research on an Adaptive Collaborative Approach to Community Forestry in Nepal

Cynthia McDougall
Hemant Ojha
Mani Ram Banjade
Bishnu Hari Pandit
Tara Bhattarai
Manik Maharjan
Sushila Rana
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2008
Pages: 126
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. iv-iv)
    Keshav Raj Kanel

    Innovation in forest management systems and practices is needed if the increasing number of community-managed forests are to meet local and national livelihood and development goals. There is a specific need for innovation that enables diverse stakeholders to bridge the gaps that so often divide them and creates a means of working together effectively to meet social, livelihood, and environmental goals. An adaptive collaborative approach is such an innovation. This approach aims to improve community forestry systems by increasing their capacity for proactive adaptiveness, including learning within and across groups of stakeholders, and for inclusion, networking and collaboration. As outlined...

  2. Part 1. Introduction

    • (pp. 3-6)

      This synthesis is for policy actors and practitioners involved in community-based natural resource management in Nepal and around the world who are seeking to strengthen resource governance and management from the community level upwards to the national level. It will be of particular interest to those seeking to increase equity in, and enhance benefits from, resource management—especially for people who have been relatively marginalised from it.

      This synthesis shares research-based lessons about the catalysation, practice and outcomes of an adaptive collaborative approach to community forestry in Nepal. It focuses on the community forest user group (CFUG) and meso levels,...

    • (pp. 7-14)

      To address the challenges of inequity and low livelihood benefits in community forestry in Nepal, CIFOR and the Nepali research organizations NewERA, ForestAction and the Environmental Resources Institute—along with multiple governmental and civil actors—carried out a partnership-based research initiative. Carried out in two phases, the initiative was known as the ‘Adaptive Collaborative Management Project’3. The first phase of the initiative (1999–2002) was in collaboration with the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, and was funded primarily by the Asian Development Bank. The second phase (2004–2007) was funded primarily by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), with complementary funding...

  3. Part 2. Context and Key Concepts

    • (pp. 17-22)

      In this chapter we discuss the context in which the research lessons were generated: community forestry systems. We begin by exploring these conceptually and then move into more specifics of the Nepali community forestry context, in which the research took place.

      Community forests are complex and dynamic contexts in many ways:

      As natural systems: As biological research has come to emphasise, forest systems are not stable, but everchanging. They are not only growing and shifting species slowly, but also dramatically influenced by more rapid events, such as fire and landslides. Furthermore, they are complex, with intricate—and not easily predictable...

    • (pp. 23-34)

      To effectively and responsively govern and manage a socioecological system—such as a community forest—actors involved need to recognise: (a) the inherent unpredictability of complex and dynamic systems; (b) the importance of learning in our efforts to deal with this complexity and dynamism; and (c) the necessity of formal ‘decision makers’ working closely with the diverse people who act at all levels within the system (Colfer 2005). In seeking to enable actors to meet this need, an adaptive collaborative approach combines two related elements—adaptive management and collaboration among the stakeholders—with social learning as a critical link between...

  4. Part 3. Lessons from Research

    • (pp. 37-74)

      The research investigated an adaptive collaborative approach in terms of its:

      viability and influencing factors;

      enabling strategies and supporting attitudes, processes and arrangements and

      its effects on equity and livelihoods.

      In this chapter we explore highlights of lessons from the CFUG and meso levels, organised along the lines of the three research questions (Box 12). Discussion of causal linkages between the approach and changes noted are the focus of Chapter 6.

      1. Is an adaptive collaborative approach viable in community forestry? Can it be effectively catalysed and facilitated in CFUGs and meso forums primarily by local and meso actors, such as...

    • (pp. 75-86)

      The previous section outlines lessons relating to equity and livelihoods, which were based on changes that took place in the CFUGs and meso forums during the participatory action research period. These changes include increases in—and support for—equity in governance, distributional equity, and the generation of livelihood benefits. In this section, we explore the connections between the adaptive collaborative approach and these changes. Specifically, we address the question of how an adaptive collaborative approach influences equity and livelihoods. This discussion draws a ‘large brush’ picture of patterns of change across sites from the perspective of the end of the...

  5. (pp. 87-90)

    Community forestry in Nepal and community-based natural resource management worldwide have made progress in many ways in the past decades—but they are now at a juncture in their development that requires tackling two pressing challenges. Specifically, if they are to contribute meaningfully to rural development, they need to address the challenges of equity and livelihoods benefits.

    Among the influences underlying the existing inequities and the less than desired benefits in community forestry is the mismatch between the natural and human systems and the approaches used to steward them. Community forestry is complex and dynamic, not only in terms of...