15 September 2015

Policy Brief: The logic of professionalization in participatory forestry

New brief in the policy brief series published by the Copenhagen Centre for Development Research (CCDR).

Participatory forestry (PF) reforms ostensibly seek to promote forest-adjacent communities’ participation in forest management by devolving management rights. PF’s objectives include sustainable forest management, equitable local livelihoods and development opportunities. In practice, however, PF initiatives often appear to sustain domination by government officials and/or private enterprises in forest management decision-making. Even when rights are actually devolved, the outcomes tend to fall short of expectations. Although improvements in forest management and conservation are common, PF reforms seem to result in increased hardships for the poorest and the elite capture of often limited local financial benefits.

Based on a special issue in the journal Forest Policy and Economics, this policy brief argues that part of the explanation for these paradoxical outcomes of participatory forestry reforms is that they promote professionalization, i.e. a reliance on scientific management approaches and structured, highly detailed systems of information gathering, dissemination and planning. This creates obstacles for implementation and privileges forms of knowledge typically held by forestry professionals and social elites in forest-adjacent communities.

You can find all policy briefs in the series here: https://ccdr.ku.dk/policy_briefs/