13 May 2019

New Policy Brief on participatory forestry

This shortened version of the policy brief "Towards participatory forestry" is redirected by SCIENCE from Copenhagen Centre for Development Research.

The policy brief provides recommendations for policy makers, implementers, funders and educators who engage in efforts to promote participatory forestry that is socially, economically and ecologically sound. The brief is based on a research project focusing on participatory forestry in the contexts of Nepal and Tanzania1, but the recommendations are of general relevance.

While the main purpose of scientific forestry, timber is often of less importance to local communities. Photo: Jens Friis Lund

While the main purpose of scientific forestry, timber is often of less importance to local communities. Here firewood from a community forest in Nepal.
Photo: Jens Friis Lund

Participatory forestry – ideal and practice
Participatory forestry entails forest governance approaches that involve people living in and around forests and are referred to as decentralized, participatory, joint, and community-based forest management as well as indigenous forestry and social forestry (Lund et al. 2018).


Jumping to the end of the brief, the researchers recommend the following:

  • For educators: curriculum and pedagogy at forestry educational institutions should emphasize: (i) the value and importance of community perspectives; (ii) state-of-the-art with regard to socio-ecological complexity and; (iii) the uncertainty and partiality of all forms of knowledge.
  • For legislators: forest legislation should avoid technically demanding and costly procedures for forest management planning, and emphasize communities’ control over the planning and management processes.
  • For implementers: forest governance approaches should be flexible, incremental and adaptive so they can accommodate different, local management goals and practices, as well as socio-ecological complexity and change.
  • For funders: funding priorities should emphasize simple and unbureaucratic framings of participatory forestry because technical and complex approaches tend to legitimize inequitable political economies and elite capture.

Read the full policy brief "Towards participatory forestry" here.