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What determines the success of joint forest management? Science-based lessons on sustainable governance of forests in India

Singh, Vijai Shanker, Pandey, Deep Narayan, Prakash, Neha Pandey
Resources, conservation, and recycling 2011 v.56 no.1 pp. 126-133
committees, forest management, forest restoration, forests, governance, livelihood, monitoring, people, recycling, villages, India
A serious attention to the factors that lead to effective forest governance is essential to address forest restoration and management challenges in India. A large number of variables are suggested in literature that may potentially determine success or failure of sustainable governance of forests, yet the success in finding essential factors has remained elusive. Here we review the cutting-edge research on forest governance and find that higher levels of local monitoring and enforcement of locally made rules leads to improved forest restoration and regeneration, and reduction in forest degradation, across a variety of ecological, economic and social contexts. We also find that strong autonomy of rule-making at the local level (and not the government-imposed rules) is the key predictor of both better forests and yield of goods and services to support livelihoods of local people. These insights have immediate practical utility for evidence-based forest governance in India. Accordingly, in the context of joint forest management (JFM), we provide science-based lessons for linking knowledge to action at village level. It is concluded that village level JFM committees that have local rule-making, local monitoring and local enforcement are more likely to succeed in their efforts directed towards better forests and improved livelihoods.