There is growing awareness of the conflicts over access to and use of natural resources that occur within and between communities, user groups, governments and government agencies, NGOs and private enterprises. While there has long been a recognition that conflicts over natural resources occur - some latent and embedded within the community and society, others precipitated by external forces - it has only been recently that conflict management has received the level of attention that is needed to begin to understand the complexity and linkages between natural resources and the conflicts that are generated concerning utilization, access, direct and indirect benefits, and equity.
The Community Forestry Unit (CFU) of the Forestry Department of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and its partner institutions in the Forests, Trees and People Programme (FTPP), since 1992 have participated in a range of activities focusing on natural resource conflict management, including coordinating regional workshops, collecting case studies, providing training in conflict management, administering a preliminary institutional survey and preparing a bibliography on natural resource conflicts.
These activities and regional exchanges highlighted the importance of assessing the status of natural resource conflict management throughout the world. CFU and FTPP, with assistance from SARD-Forum (Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Forum), coordinated an electronic conference (e-conference) on `Addressing Natural Resource Conflicts through Community Forestry', January - May 1996, to which 463 conferees from 55 countries directly subscribed. The broad range of conferees included academics, policy makers, lawyers, lobbyist, field workers, foresters, anthropologists, project designers, project staff, extension agents, and trainers representing multilateral and bilateral, government offices, international and national NGOs and community-based institutions. The e-conference facilitated the exchange of different perspectives, information and documentation on the subject and assisted in improving the understanding of the relationship between community forestry and conflict management.
This document presents the proceedings of the e-conference on `Addressing Natural Resource Conflicts through Community Forestry'. It provides:
Additional material on the e-conference, including all the contributions made by discussants and conferees in the plenary and working groups and discussion papers, is available upon request to the Community Forestry Unit, FAO, Rome.1 Additional documents related to the e-conference and conflict management available from the Community Forestry Unit include:
For additional information on CFU and FTPP activities concerning conflict management, as well as upcoming publications, visit the CFU/FTPP homepage on the Internet at: http://www.fao.org/waicent/faoinfo/forestry/ftpp/default.htm
The Community Forestry Unit would appreciate any feedback, comments or experiences which readers are interested in sharing. Input or information you feel would be valuable in the development of this topic would be of great interest to us. Comments should be sent to Katherine Warner, Senior Community Forestry Officer, Room A343, Policy and Planning Service, Forestry Department, FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, Rome 00100, Italy or by e-mail to: Katherine.Warner@fao.org
1. Refer to Annexes J and K for information on contact persons and addresses.