Main content area

Community forestry management and livelihood development in northwest China: integration of governance, project design, and community participation

Chen, Haiyun, Zhu, Ting, Krott, Max, Maddox, David
Regional environmental change 2013 v.13 no.1 pp. 67-75
households, attitudes and opinions, nongovernmental organizations, community service, sustainable forestry, development projects, community forestry, governance, surveys, collaborative management, forest management, livelihood, case studies, education, decision making, forests, China
In projects of community development and natural resource management, local residents collaborate with government and NGOs on decisions about forest management and participate in programs designed to improve livelihoods while sustaining natural resources. This paper uses case studies and survey data in Gansu province of northwest China to explore social, ecological, and economic outcomes of community-based co-management (CBCM). Findings show that CBCM appears to have significantly increased livelihoods for local community residents overall. Forest condition and attitudes about forest conservation were also improved. However, economic benefits were not enjoyed uniformly within the communities because, although CBCM projects are nominally available to all, certain subgroups within communities are less likely to participate. Greater education, being married, and access to information are all strongly correlated with participation and thus the economic benefits of CBCM projects. Women, although they frequently participate in household decisions, are infrequent participants in CBCM projects, perhaps because project design does not meet their needs. Future improvements to CBCM project design should include increased access to information, education, and equitable treatment of diverse stakeholders in the decision-making process. Such improvements would likely lead to improvements in livelihoods as well as more sustainable forest management and conservation.