Jon Anderson, Michelle Gauthier, Garry Thomas, and Julia Wondellock
Resource control, distribution and access are affected by global economic, social, political and environmental changes. These changes create conflicting demands, needs and interests. Political changes trying to keep pace with a changing society often undermine indigenous and traditional practices. Yet community forestry alternatives can also result in changes that cause conflicts. These various factors indicate that there is much to be learned from traditional and modern conflict management practices regarding natural resource conflicts.
Community forestry puts combined technical and social science methods at the service of local communities, while emphasizing the use of local knowledge, institutions and management skills. The objective of community forestry is to use analytical and participatory tools, adapting them to local situations, to increase mutual learning opportunities between local communities and technical partners. Even when community forestry activities are sensitive to local needs, they frequently cause changes that are disruptive and in turn lead to conflict. Conflicts in the arena of community forestry tend to revolve around competition for forest resources and related decision-making rights.
Conflict management is a multidisciplinary field of research and action that addresses how people can make better decisions collaboratively. The roots of conflict are addressed by building upon shared interests and finding points of agreement. Specific conflict management intervention and principles form a proactive-reactive continuum. The proactive end of the spectrum involves fostering productive communication and collaboration among diverse interests. addressing the causes of conflicts in order to prevent reoccurances and developing trust and understanding. Participatory and collaborative planning is used to prevent conflicts resulting from government actions or policies. Reactive approaches to manage conflict involve negotiation, mediation, conciliation and consensus building. The reactive approach uses the conflict after it has erupted.
The interface between community forestry and conflict management is a natural extension of both disciplines. Conflict managers focus on developing problem-solving skills to empower those managing disputes. Community forestry professionals focus on developing problem-solving skills to empower people managing the natural resources on which a community is dependent. The e-conference aims to use case studies and discussions to identify the overlapping aspects of community forestry and conflict management, bringing the two disciplines closer.
Natural resource conflicts vary from culture to culture. Some societies avoid conflicts, while others will resort to physical violence to resolve them. Natural resource conflicts can be broken down into three categories: actors (or stakeholders, groups of people, government structures and private entities). resource (land, forests. rights, access, use and ownership) and stakes (economic, political. environmental and socio-cultural). Therefore, conflicts can be addressed with the actor-oriented approach, resource-oriented approach. stake-oriented approach or a combination of the three. However, there are key principles such as, interalia, participatory approaches, equitable representation, capacity building, context of the conflict and increased access and dissemination of information, to always be considered.
Another important aspect is whether a third-party should be involved in addressing the natural resource conflict. A third-party facilitator may be useful when a party is unable to negotiate because they cannot efficiently press and articulate their interest.
Community forestry emphasizes local self-help and capacity building. The process of natural resource conflict management within community forestry can result in choices and changes with a substantial effect on the parties involved. Awareness and recognition that is developed through the changes is one of the potential benefits of conflict management.
by Michael Ochieng Odhiambo
In East Africa, situations of natural resource conflicts are understood by identifying the major situations and causes of natural resource conflicts. tracing their evolution over time and suggesting policy and legal options for their solutions. To understand natural resource conflicts in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. one has to begin with the historical. political, social and economic context within which natural resource management occurs. These four countries present different political histories. Three of them were under colonial administration until independence. One was a sovereign state. After revolutions and independence, two of the countries were administered by military dictatorships and two formed democratic states.
Although both Kenya and Uganda were both former British colonies, the imperial administrative structures had different impacts on traditional institutions and systems, affecting natural resource management arrangements. In Kenya, the colonial administration intervened significantly in their natural resource policies and laws. The British were directly involved in running the country, affecting traditional resource management systems and institutions. Since independence, the country's historical issues related to natural resources have been dominate in shaping the country's structure, especially since the country has maintained the political structure inherited during the colonial period. Today, several resource management conflicts in Kenya have stemmed from the country's move to economic liberalization through free .markets. Ownership policies specific to natural resources have progressively been moving towards privatization in order to compliment economic policies. This has resulted in private land tenure replacing communal tenure and weakening traditional practices.
In Uganda there were established kingdoms. The British worked with and recognized the elaborate resource management rules and systems in place, minimizing interference with the traditional institutions. However, post-independence military rule has had negative implications for the institutional mechanisms for natural resource management. Yet the absence of an effective government has motivated the revival of traditional systems and institutions.
Tanzania was also under British administration as a Trust treaty under the United Nations. The customary laws that were in place remained until the national government decided to initiate a land reform following the Arusha declaration. This set up `Ujaama Villages' (cooperative villages) modifying traditional resource management systems and institutions. The villages were run by institutions affiliated with the central government, which weakened traditional institutions but were not able to effectively replace them. This land reform maintained the administrative and legal power in the hands of government agencies which replaced the traditional systems. The land reform was unsuccessful because the programme and institutional framework derived its legitimacy from the legislative and policy actions of the government rather than the traditions and customs of the people.
In contrast, Ethiopia was an independent state with a feudal system that dictated the ownership of land creating large disparities of ownership and access. When the monarchy collapsed and the Marxist-Leninist military regime was institutionalized, there were radical land reforms oriented towards changing ownership patterns in favour of peasants and small landowners and devolving decision-making power to local level institutions. This was confronted with resistance from large landowners. When this government collapsed, the resources that the populace felt had been withheld from then were viewed as freely available for uncontrolled appropriations.
The natural resource conflicts in this region can be understood from political. legal, economic and socio-cultural dimensions. In East Africa, politics play a significant role in the allocation of resources. The political dimension of natural resource conflicts in East Africa is most clearly manifested in the distribution of power between the central governments and the community-based institutions. The political situation of these countries has been oriented towards a central top-down, decision-making political structure. The marginalisation of pastoral communities is one of the most evident consequences. The pastoralists have been unable to be players in the political process and have suffered significantly as a result. Recently. however. there have been political changes that provide opportunities to empower the civil society and reactivate community-based institutions. This would allow communities to participate effectively in the decision-making process relative to their governance. In addition to participation in decision-making, local-level empowerment is bringing to the surface conflicts that the strong authority of the central government had managed to contain. However, in most countries moving towards devolution of power, this has often been limited to decentralization of executive authority.
The colonial legal system was developed on the presumption that the law of colonial power was superior to the native customs. The colonial powers justified their actions with the pretext that they were bringing the benefits of modern government, economics and culture to Africa. The legal systems and institutions introduced during the colonial era became the formal legal structure in the colonized country. Nevertheless, the traditional systems still operated, both formally and informally. Customary law is recognized in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania in the statute books. However, most courts ignore the customary laws and norms. Thus conflicts arise because traditional and formal institutions interpret land rights differently. Customary rules applied by traditional institutions have a different institutional resource management framework by which they allocate resources, while the formal statutory system considers property laws. Thus, legitimization processes that exist outside the formal policy and legal framework are bound to be a source of serious conflict.
The economic dimension of natural resource conflicts develops from the various possible uses of the resource, ranging from industrial and environmental, to subsistence. These varying economic uses have fuelled conflicts between communities, between private sector and forest communities, between government agencies and forest communities, and between government agencies. In East Africa. water is used for domestic and household and hydroelectric power, industrial and domestic effluent treatment, transportation, and as a source of fish and aquatic life for food and trade. Thus, there are often conflicts between these different sectors. Similarly, there are conflicts between national and community-level interests in forests resources. Conflicts arise between the profit-propelled interest of business against the subsistence interest of local livelihood for people (timber, fuelwood, medicinal herbs, biodiversity, wildlife habitats, carbon sinks, other products and services). At the government level, conflicts in natural resource management have been more pronounced since economic liberalization.
The socio-cultural dimension includes the external forces that are eroding the traditional mechanisms for addressing natural resource conflicts but not effectively replacing them. Population pressures and urbanization are creating new and often conflicting demands on the natural resource and changing values regarding management systems and traditional practices and institutions.
Community forestry is oriented towards empowerment of resource users, a bottom-up approach, that changes the potential of indigenous knowledge systems and institutions for sustainable management. Through community forestry, local governing institutions are strengthened and decentralization is promoted. Consequently, community forestry supports the devolution of power to the community level. This in turn assists in working against some of the political, legal, economic and socio-cultural conditions mentioned above. This is further reinforced by legal reforms that give recognition, form and content to the traditional rights and obligations relative to resource management. At the economic level, community forestry assists in prioritizing the needs of local communities that rely on forest products. Community forestry does not subscribe to the notion that development means evolving away from traditional systems, but instead empowering and strengthening traditional systems as they evolve to address the ongoing changes instead of moving away from them. Community forestry also works towards establishing a legal and political system that recognizes local perspectives in potential conflicts. Through its orientation, community forestry provides a platform from which natural resource conflicts involving local communities can be dealt with.
Some of the questions in this paper include:
How can indigenous knowledge and traditional natural resource management systems and institutions be articulated and incorporated into the policy formulation process?
How can communities benefit from opportunities offered by economic liberalization while at the same time retaining control of their natural resources and not compromising the sustainable use and management of these resources?
by Samba Traore and Henri Lo
In West Africa, the history of natural resource conflicts cannot be separated from the institutional and legal framework within which they occur. For example, colonization separated those who spoke the same language and forced together those from ethnically distinct backgrounds to live together. This required these groups to change their approaches to resource use and distribution and adapt to different institutions and mechanisms for managing and resolving natural resource conflicts. This is seen in Cameroon where two ethno-linguistic groups, francophone and anglophone, live within the same boundaries. In addition to this, West Africa has diverse ecological areas which influence, or are conditioned by. various economic, social and political factors resulting in potential conflicts and problems. The variation of the ecological zone creates a variation in the means and mechanisms for resolving natural resource conflicts. Overall the region is relatively heterogeneous in character.
The forest resource policies of many countries in West Africa have continued several features of the legislation inherited from the former colonial authorities. Thus the problems faced at the legal/institution level are very similar and require urgent policy reforms. In several countries necessary reforms are being implemented. For example, in Senegal there is gradual movement towards decentralized decision-making processes. Senegal adopted a new forestry code that gives more importance to grassroots communities, in a context of privatization and liberalization. Moving from the previous top-down approach in which communities were project consumers, people are encouraged to contribute their opinions about decisions affecting their land. This has resulted in shifts from community reforestation projects to community forestry that recognizes the aspirations and needs of forest dependent people. As a consequence, rural communities have chosen to manage their forests through non-forest activities that contribute more food security and income generation and overall social welfare than some of the previously enforced forest management programmes. This has also increased the possibility of meeting both the needs of the people and the objective of natural resource management.
Conflicts associated with natural resources are often due to different perceptions regarding who should benefit from the conflicts, and are an indicator of resource availability, evolution of tenure rights and systems, accessibility and control over the resource. Conflicts usually result from an imbalance in the power structure. These power imbalances can exhibit themselves through unequal distribution of natural resource use and tenure rights. Conflicts show transition within societies. This can be positive if it expresses need for change or the ability of institutions to adapt to social, economic and/or environmental conditions. Conflicts can have a negative impact if the changes that result from them cause further marginalisation of certain groups of society, such as the poor, women and minorities.
The classical approach to understanding conflicts is through the actors. Based on the classical approach, conflicts may arise at any of the different levels of relationships. These can be categorized as:
conflicts at the primary level - involving family members as actors;
conflicts at a higher village level - this includes conflicts in which villagers compete for access to resources in the traditional village territories; and at the intervillage/intercommunity level, with villages, ethnic communities and socio-professional categories being actors;
- conflicts involving the state - this includes conflicts between the local administration, government technical services and communities; and
conflicts at the international level - when the resources are shared between countries or those owned by a country that tolerates access to the resource by neighbouring countries. In such conflicts the main actors include populations on the border and the concerned states.
A more accurate indication of reality and parties involved in conflict may be through the interests at stake that are often the underlying causes of conflicts. Better understanding these causes would assist in selecting the appropriate management processes. There are three major categories of stakes: ecological, social and economic. The ecological stakes often create conflicting interests over managing the natural resource body. Thus, there are often conflicts in attempts to strike a balance between preservation and regeneration of such resources and people's vital needs.
The social stakes encompass the demographic changes and commensurate pressures on the resources. These social changes require new ways of managing, using and distributing the natural resource. In terms of social stakes, how natural resource conflicts can stem from scarcity or lack of equitable distribution rather than from ethnic clashes. Examples of this are the conflicts between nomadic pastoralists and farmers.
Similarly, as the economic potential of an area or resource increases there are new interests and demands for the resource. Economic potential brims new stakeholders and creates new power imbalances over control of the natural resource. An example, of the several seen in Senegal. Mauritania and Burkina Faso, of this is seen in the case of the Goll of Fandéne (Senegal) where the and area in the region of Thies has not been used for the past 25 years. Overnight, traditional tenure rights resurfaced, because of the prospective of the Cayor Canal (which would provide drinking water and irrigation opportunities) running through this area. As a result the powerful politician/financial interest groups in Dakar also have their eye on it. The tremendous financial benefits are the principal cause of all types of conflicts because they create inequalities hitherto unknown in traditional systems. Such situations of conflict have been compounded by structural adjustment policies and the devaluation of the CFA franc. The latter has induced an increase in the market value of certain natural resources, thus facilitating and encouraging exports. The economic value associated with natural resources plus the potential contribution of a resource to social and economic development fuel conflicts over ownership and resource use. Forest resources, land, water, etc., are all a significant source of conflict because of their strategic value for economic and social development.
Natural resource conflicts are can be resolved through the state via mechanisms that are administrative or judicial by nature. Such state mechanisms tend to be hierarchical and ineffective because they are clumsy and time-consuming. Similarly the judicial mechanisms tend to be slow and complex and are often located away from the site of the conflict and the actors. These formal mechanisms have weakened and officially replaced the traditional mechanisms.
These informal conflict resolution methods, which range from peasant groups resorting to methods including arbitration, dialogue, and forms of prohibition and sanction against offenders to religious leaders whose influence and eloquence can effectively contribute to the resolution of conflicts, have not been completely replaced. The reason why these traditional systems are still employed for conflict management is because they attempt to reach conciliation and make people internalize well-known and widely accepted principles that are rooted in indigenous values and beliefs. and since they are in the proximity of the conflict and the actors. people have more confidence in them. These informal ways, however, are inefficient when the different actors do not share the same value system, and often overlook the interests of certain groups within the community. Secondly, they often do not contain written documentation of the decisions and the proceedings, the solution can often be challenged later in time, and thirdly, certain leaders can be authoritarian or arbitrary because of their leadership.
Community forestry has an important role to play in the implementation of alternative conflict management mechanisms, since it seeks to create the conditions for sustainable management of natural resources as a basis for the welfare of communities. But for community forestry to play an effective role it is necessary to understand the relationship between community forestry and all the mechanisms for natural resource management and the conflicts associated with them.
Most of the existing land tenure legislation in the region does not establish a link between the tenure system and forest resources. In fact, there are incongruencies between laws regarding forest resource management and other dominant activities. Often, there is no reference made to the protection of natural forests or afforested areas. In certain articles, there is no mention of community forestry in the context of conflict resolution. For example, in the forestry code of 1982 in Mauritania, no reference is made to the role to be played by communities using forest resources. On the other hand, in Senegal there are laws that recognize community management of forests, however the role of communities in the management of natural resource conflicts has not been clearly defined. A potential way of resolving this problem is to better develop community forestry principles.
Given the national and sectoral policies that give priority to agriculture in many countries, the stockbreeders' security over potential agricultural land is questionable. In such cases, community forestry can play a role in the traditional conflict between stockbreeders and farmers. Community forestry could assist in meeting the needs of sedentary communities as well as those of nomadic stock-breeders because the basic principles of community forestry can address both management and land use strategies. Conflicts such as those between the pastoralists and agriculturists show that the indigenous mechanisms and know-how regarding conflict management are invaluable. For example, when there are water shortages, stock breeders become agro-pastoralists, adapting to the ecological constraints that have surfaced. There are often conflicts that stem from the lack of coordination between sectors with respect to natural resources, making it difficult to fully address the interdependence between these different sectors from both a physico-ecological standpoint and from a socio-economic perspective. In some countries neither of these sectors recognize, the principles of community forestry.
In Senegal, the government has developed a forestry code that encourages management at the grassroots level. This forestry code takes into account agricultural societies, pastoralists and rural communities through production contracts, land use contracts and other agreements based on forest development plans. However, due to the lack of human and financial resources for implementation, the forest and land management still remains in the government's domain. Such phenomenon also arises because of the lack of information exchange within and between countries of the same region. The lack of continuity between policies, methods and approaches at the regional level also obstructs the situation.
The way the administration operates in the sub-region is another source of conflict. This is especially the case with the new movement towards decentralization. Currently, there is very little cross-referencing between different sectoral policies. There is a chance that this will be further aggravated by decentralization policies. Even in countries like Senegal, where decentralization is taking effect, the concept of decentralization diverges from its true sense, since there is interest in maintaining the dominance of the government. The movement towards decentralization should be based on the fact that local communities should be provided with decision-making power since they are the ones that are displaced or most disadvantaged when resources are degraded.
Community forestry can play a significant role in conflict management with its orientation for bringing the protagonists to the forefront. Community forestry considers local preferences, recognizes multisectoral objectives and brings together the different interests through an integrated approach. Cultural context, including indigenous knowledge, is always considered. The importance of strengthening local institutions and employing participatory approaches is also applied to better identify the activities and interests of the communities. However; the approach has to be further strengthened in the context of conflict management, taking into consideration the conflictual nature of community forestry because of the diversity of actors and interests. Sometimes there is the need for community forestry to operate in a legal and institutional framework to strengthen the bargaining power of rural communities.
by Diji Chandrasekharan
The historical, linguistic, legal, economic, social, ecological and cultural variations of Asia makes this region the setting of diverse natural resource management practices, numerous legal structures specific to natural resources and different cultural interpretations of natural resource use and conflicts. There are different efforts being made to recognize the role of local communities in forest management. In Nepal and India, and to some extent; the Philippines and Pakistan. policies are in place to promote local capacity for forest management. Whereas, in Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, there are no specific policies that acknowledge the rights and capability of communities to manage forest resources. In China, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam, there still is the need to recognize natural resource conflicts.
Natural resource conflicts are put in four different. yet interlinked, contexts. The first is the economic context, which captures how market expansion in Asian countries, and increase in the value of forest resources, is changing the demands on the resource. In certain cases, these demand changes result in the exploitation of the resource, making it scarce. The new use of resources, for industrial or commercial purposes, often occurrs without addressing how to cater to the other demands on the forest resource. The new, and often competing demands, have been a source of conflict. With the economic and political changes, there has also been an increase in the involvement of NGOs in these countries. The NGOs have presented new ways of managing conflicts, but have also contributed to new conflicts.
The second is the land use context, which states that conflicts occur because of different interests in agricultural land use and for forest conservation. Policies tend to be biased towards agricultural land use and often incentives are created to motivate migration and clearance of forests for cultivation. Such `promotion' weakens customary forest management practices and marginalia forest dwellers and communities dependent on forest resources. The ecological context captures how the quality of the resource can often influence the type of conflict and sometimes the mechanisms that are optimal for managing the conflict. The ecological context also influences migration paths and the potential to market a resource. The legal context shows that although there are policies and laws promoting community involvement in forest resource management (e.g., Nepal and India), there are still contradictions in these laws. With the differing needs from forest areas at the national and local level, the contradiction in laws creates a situation of greater conflict.
In Thailand. legal recognition of community involvement with forest management efforts creates 'extra-legal' space to deal with natural resource conflicts and accommodate the needs of the forest-dependent communities. The situation in Indonesia is slightly different. There are no laws that prohibit traditional resource management practices. Nevertheless, these practices are not recognized or legally supported. Here too, extra-legal efforts are made to accommodate local conflicts. In the Philippines, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has developed various legal mechanisms to provide formal recognition of the land rights of ethnic minorities and upland communities. However, such efforts can only be beneficial if recognition of communities' traditional management practices and structures are considered during implementation. In the Philippines, efforts to provide legal recognition of the land rights of the Manobo community have created conflicts at the local and provincial level because the implementing body imposed a structure and level of operation that did not complement the communities knowledge, capacities and needs. Another situation is that of Vietnam, where the land law of 1993 provides private usufruct certificates to manage forest lands. However, this programme might not entice farmers because the farmers are constrained by what they can legally plant on these lands. They are also forbidden from using this land for swidden agriculture. This has the potential of creating conflicts between farmers and resource managers over land use practices.
This paper presented summaries of five case studies discussed at length during the FTPP/CFU regional workshop on conflict management in community forestry held in Kathmandu. Nepal (October 10-13, 1996).
Jurisdiction vs. equity. A case study in Gujurat, India. Two villages, Pingot and Jambuda had agreed to cooperate in protecting a forest area that was allocated to Pingot under JFM. A conflict arose between these villages regarding how the benefits should be shared. When the Forestry Department officer intervened, there was uncertainty regarding the legitimacy of the agreement made between the two villages. The villages did not cooperate by negotiations, but finally when they did agree to negotiate, no consensus regarding benefit distribution was reached. Consequently, the Range Forest Officer decided on the settlement, which was signed immediately by both parties. Two questions arose from this case: (i) what is the authority of the government over an agreement made between two villages; and (ii) the temporal element involved in reaching a settlement and getting information regarding the appropriate procedure from the government, and its impact on the resources and duration of the conflict.
People and outsiders' interaction in management: case study from Jambi Province, Indonesia. This case study presents information on the different practices for dealing with certain natural resource conflicts. The Kerinci Selbat National Park was established in 1982 in response to deforestation in the area. The park bordered on forest used for customary purposes. industrial purposes and conversion forests. Conflicts regarding resource use arose between the villagers living adjacent to the park, the national park manager and businessmen. Both local ways and traditional practices were used to resolve the conflict. For conflicts between the two villages, local practices were used. If these were not sufficient, the problem was taken to the sub-district level. A third party was brought in to help the villagers obtain legal recognition of their rights to the forest area.
Conflict resolution in the Bokse Mahadevsthan Forest, Nepal. The conflicts in the Bokse Mahadevsthan Forest Area occurred over who should be in a forest user group and boundary demarcations between two villages in the same Village Development Committee (VDC). One of the villages started a community-initiated, forest protection programme in the Mahadevsthan forest. This, however, was not respected by the villagers in the neighbouring wards who were not included. The District Forest Officer encouraged handing over the management of the forest to the villagers and helped create a legally recognized forest user group. This caused conflicts regarding who should be a member. In addition, there was conflict over which of the two neighbouring villages should have ownership of the disputed 8 hectares of forest. After unsuccessful mediation, to resolve the problem, the ranger of the District Forest Office asked the households that had migrated into the disputed area of forest to choose which village they wanted to join and gave the land to that village. This helped settle the conflict and allowed for the handover of the Bokse Forest Area.
Conflict between landowners and community members represented by an NGO in North West Pakistan. The forest area in North West Pakistan, over which there was conflict, was used for subsistence purposes by indigenous people. The government had created Forest Cooperative Societies (FCS) that gave the people more control over the forest. However, since the legislation was ambiguous regarding tenure, big landowners used their influence to prevent the formation of FCSs in 33 communities. These communities asked SLING,, an NGO working with them during a flood relief mission, to campaign for a reforestation movement. The NGO got involved and distributed information. The conflicts had arisen because of the lack of community participation (resulting in non-participatory legislation), ambiguous land rights, the power of the big landowners and the control of forest conservation under the Forestry Department. Conflicts were further aggravated as a result of SUNGHI's advocacy work and information dissemination. The usage of the term `Timber Mafia' to identify landowners and weak formal channels for mediation were much resented.
Forest dispute resolution at Maephed Forest, Phochi District, Thailand. The forests in Thailand are government owned. The Maeped Forest Area was granted by the government for commercial logging in 1963. The villagers who had lived in the neighbouring villages since 1945, had already moved into the forest (which they used). In 1966, the government decided to declare the original area of the forest a reserve. The villagers claimed they had been living there prior to the Forest Reserve Act and objected to the government decision, giving rise to a conflict. Until the government and villagers reached a resolution. the government was unable to implement their plan of creating a National Forest Reserve. Although the government was more powerful, the villagers, under the leadership of a village woman and with the assistance of an NGO, organized a movement against the government's actions. This led both the parties to the negotiation table and a land settlement was reached. Despite taking systematic steps, including cooperation, participation and compromise to reach the settlement, certain villagers did not agree with the resolution. The villagers have set up a project to manage the forest under the community forestry principles.
From these cases and other information, causes of conflict were summarized as follows:
decentralization/democratization, which gives the voiceless a voice;
lack of participation of all stakeholders,
changes in laws, policies, market values and lack of information regarding these policies, rights and changes;
contradiction between policies and unclear boundary establishment, both at the national and provincial level;
limited resources creating competition for them;
slow attitudinal change in the Forestry Department, resulting in some uncommitted field personnel; and
inequitable distribution of benefits.
Having identified some general causes for conflicts in the region, the paper presents three different ways of analysing conflicts. The first involved a macro-level analysis. Understanding conflicts at this level can prevent similar conflicts from resurfacing. To do this, some of the tools of community forestry are useful. At the micro level the actors involved usually have the tools required to handle the conflicts. Intervention at this level should only occur upon request from the parties in conflict. A second way of analysing conflicts is by understanding the parallel between power and the type of resources. Conflicts for degraded resources seldom occur between actors who have very different levels of power. As the ecological richness of the resource increases. the power disparity between the party usually increases. The parallel between resource quality and power also influences the manifestation of the conflict. For example, conflicts over incentives for resource management in JFM will be expressed differently from conflicts between conservation and resource utilization.
A distinction should be made between mechanisms for preventing conflicts and mechanisms for addressing natural resource conflicts. To prevent conflicts, it is important to form alliances between parties of equal power: avoid unilateral decisions and ensure participation of all stakeholders; be proactive about the changes required in the legal structure so as to complement the changing demands on the resource. To effectively address natural resource conflicts it is important to work on resolving the conflict at the level at which it occurred, and to assess whether there is sufficient commitment for resolution. It is also important to realize that not all conflicts are negative. People need to be provided with time to cope with change.
In discussing mechanisms for addressing conflicts, careful selection of third-party involvement was highlighted. It is thought that third parties can sometimes create conflicts, usually when it is to their advantage. It is also possible for a third party to continue or further complicate a conflict. This can often benefit them by enhancing their position. However, third parties can often assist in resolving conflicts. The `third party' in traditional societies is chosen based on background, affiliation and capacity. This third party may sometimes chose to resolve the conflict inequitably if seen to be in the benefit of all. Such persons are usually respected village elders, school teachers or sometimes even formally elected village heads. For example, in Thailand, third parties are usually teachers and monks. For traditional societies it is important to choose a person not only for their skills in conflict resolution, but also based on ontological aspects (i.e., whether the person is good).
The chosen conflict management strategy used will depend on the type and scale of the conflict. However it is necessary to institutionalize and provide legal recognition of participatory forest management. There is also a need for greater transparency in the administration, and the formation of local networks at the village level. This should all be further reinforced by training to enable people to solve conflicts with as little outside intervention as possible. This would give local practices the necessary emphasis and give them priority over modem mechanisms for managing conflicts.
In different countries in Asia, efforts are being made to bring conflict management to the forefront. Certain countries are collecting case studies and reviewing the tools and mechanisms used to manage conflicts. Others are promoting training in conflict management to government officials; while others still are attempting to raise awareness regarding the impact of natural resource conflicts. Natural resource conflicts remind professionals about the hidden legal dimension in forest management, the rights of inhabitants in forest areas and the importance of taking these into consideration.
by Carlos Villarreal
Latin America has been, and still is, a complex reality. Historically, Latin America has been the setting for various kinds of political, social, economic, and lately, environmental conflicts. Within the economic context, in the last two decades Latin America has adopted a new economic model and moved from a primary exporter model to an import substitution model. With the previous model there was no value-adding through production to the primary commodities. There was also a slow, but constant, decrease in the price for primary products. Fluctuating growth was dependent on the international consumption of the basic export products. However, independent of whether consumption was favourable or not, this led to resource exploitation. Being a primary exporter also creates a greater gap between Latin American countries and other industrialized nations, as well as dependence on the industrialized countries. In order to modify these conditions, the governments adopted the import substitution model. To do this, they had to create internal and regional markets to sustain the initial manufacturing production (initially for agro-industry and consumption goods). They introduced structural changes and significantly changed the agrarian structure that used to exist.
The reforms required changing land ownership structure, which allowed large amounts of land to be owned by a few hands. In addition to this it was necessary to redistribute land, thus putting into effect both agrarian reform and production development laws simultaneously. The government also provided credit and information from agricultural research in order to motivate the generation of agricultural surplus, so as to move into agro-industrialization. They also promoted mechanization of productive activities and/or the change in use of the land for activities in which the participation of labour is more extensive. However, the expected changes did not occur. This was because politically powerful large landowners set up strategies to minimize risks and reduce the labour participation in their `latifundos'. The landowners changed to mechanized production systems and assigned ownership of marginal lands of the `latifundo' to the rural inhabitants. As a result, despite attempts via policy reforms, the structure of land tenancy did not change and there was still a disproportionate distribution of land. For example, in Brazil 70 percent of the rural families lack land and an additional 10 percent work on virtually unproductive parcels (Centeno, 1991). People were encouraged to move to large cities, or move to areas that were still demographically unsaturated, such as the tropical rainforest where new resources could be used. In the cities the rural people lived in slums, and the tropical rainforests had low fertility and were ecologically fragile. Thus, as a consequence of the reforms, there was increased rural unemployment, overexploitation of the soil and deterioration of the living conditions. These conditions and others fuelled conflicts.
The social situation, in general, and the agrarian situation, in particular became explosive. Nevertheless, the extension of the production frontier was being promoted as necessary and oriented towards economic growth. Thus, governments promoted colonization and formulated favourable legislation. However, the states' efforts were obstructed by spontaneous colonization and unsustainable exploitation of the resources. The new colonization space meant new conflicts that arose because of: (i) the use of technical and economic systems that did not compliment the conditions of the area, causing irreversible damage; (ii) the imposition of market principles on resource use, creating conflicting use with that of the native people; (iii) occupation and/or reduction of traditional territories and the resources of the natives, and (iv) exploitation of the forest resource mainly for wood. Conflicts also resulted from migration, as newcomers begin to use resources that were previously managed by natives through different methods. Thus there were conflicts resulting from competition over access and control as well as the new social and technological relations applied in use of the resource.
The following 10 cases explain, in part, the situation.
The Chimanes case in Bolivia. The Chimanes forest is inhabited by 17 ethnic communities. Here a conflict arose because the government unilaterally decided to authorize entrepreneurs to exploit the forest for wood. The entrepreneurs did not abide by the laws set, since institutional control is weak. Legal ambiguity of ethnic territories, affected by different demarcations, caused the conflict. The loggers have been coopting different members of the communities and dividing the native communities, making it more difficult to resolve this problem as the number of interests increase.
The Awá case in Ecuador and Colombia. The Awá are a small, indigenous group located on both sides of the western border between Ecuador and Colombia. In Ecuador, timber companies have strong interests in the forest area where this indigenous group resides. The Awá are being displaced, giving in to external pressure and do not feel confident enough to confront the issue. In 1983, a sector of the state, interested in improving the living conditions of people in these areas, within a framework of frontier development policy, asked for assistance from other state, church and international institutions. This brought the issue of the Awá to the forefront. Two parties were formed, arguing from different sides of the situation. In an attempt to counteract the negative feeling and resistance that had developed, efforts were made to increase the involvement of the Awá people in the demarcation of land, and establish an intergovernmental agreement (between Ecuador and Colombia). The objective was to legalize the situation through documentation, look for support from international organizations, strengthen the capacity of participation of the Awá people in the process, and deepen social and ecological knowledge. With the demarcation of land additional conflicts surfaced since additional actors had taken over the lands in the area (e.g., miners, logging companies and rural people who occasionally used the forest). It took four years to resolve the conflict. Finally, the Ministerial Agreement of the Forest Reserve of the Awá Communal Settlement was achieved.
The OPIP case in Ecuador. In the province of Pastaza, the Arco Oriente Inc. Company started seismic activities in search of petroleum on lands with indigenous occupation. This was within the National Development Strategy. The indigenous community, fearing the threat of these activities to their forests, organized themselves into the Organization of Indigenous People of Pastaza (OPIP). However there was a clear power imbalance in this conflict. Nevertheless, the communities began their campaign and formed alliances with international ecological movements and gained international coverage and visibility. This facilitated the fact that they were listed in various international forums. With support from an NGO based in the United States and other protest strategies, OPIP finalized a stage of negotiations with the Arco Company in the United States, which culminated in the signing of a joint monitoring agreement.
The Nahuas case in Peru. This case shows the power disparity between the Nahuas communities that inhabit the Bajo Urubamba Zone and the Shell Company, which is carrying out exploration and seismic activities in the area. The initial explorations caused injuries and jeopardized the possibility of continuing work in the area. Since the communities had limited contact with the outside world. Shell managed to coopt communities by offering them tools, food and gifts. This set the pattern for logging companies interested in the area for wood. Successive contacts resulted in epidemics for which the communities had no immunity. This resulted in approximately 50 percent of the population dying and the others emigrating to neighbouring valleys where they have yet to integrate socially, culturally and economically.
The Candoshi case in Peru. This is a conflict between the Candoshi people and the Fisheries Ministry over Lake Rimachi. The Ministry declared the region of the lake a reserved area, without understanding the socio-environmental situation. The Candoshi people took action regarding the lake because they wanted to prevent the depravation caused by employees of the Ministry of Fisheries and to recover Lake Rimachi as part of their traditional territory, restoring its old productive capacity. The community organized themselves into a Federation and with allies formed a Defence Committee for the interest of the Candoshi People. The state, which had previously ignored local needs, through the increasing pressure of the community made agreements for joint management but did not change the status of the lake. Thus, they partially met the needs of the people. However, in the last two years, the Ministry, of Energy and Mines has authorized a concession for a petroleum lot to a transnational company, allowing for additional conflicts to arise.
The biosphere reserve of the Plátano River, Honduras. Inhabitants of the biosphere reserve are dedicated to subsistence-level agriculture, small-scale livestock herding and marine-resource cultivation. This reserve has been labelled the `Patrimony of Mankind' by UNESCO. However, the state has not established clear norms regarding protection, use or ownership of the land on behalf of the indigenous communities. The increasing demand for agricultural land is posing a threat to the communities which do not have formally recognized claims to the area. Thus. the communities have organized and are doing what they can to prevent encroachment. In 1995, the Honduran Government took a unilateral decision to establish a settlement for 5,000 families in the reserve without taking into complete consideration the impact this could have. In an attempt to prevent this potential national conflict from exploding, meetings have been held between government, rural and indigenous representatives, but no progress has been made.
Gender and forestry nurseries. In projects involving forestry activities, it is important to have representation of needs so that projects will have complete compliance. This is because women and men have different needs for forest resources and hence they are interested in different species. Thus, accommodating both interests through providing space for a larger number of species or looking for local varieties is important.
Gender and rural forest development project (DFC) in Ecuador. Gender conflict sometimes occurs between people that work with conservation or forest development projects. Projects that require community promoters to be composed of a certain percentage of women can cause conflicts because of the social expectations of women and men. In Ecuador the DFC project required 50 percent of the promoters to be women. Single women, married women, widows and single mothers (both young and middle aged) had to deal with conflicting expectations of their role in the community and at work. This forced some women to quit. To deal with this, workshops were coordinated to deal explicity with community development problems for women promoters.
Settlers and virgin lands. The farmers who migrate to the Amazon. Migrant farmers settle on lands that they cannot use to full potential due to lack of technichal and economic resources. Often the land is used for agriculture, specifically for crops to be sold in local markets. Given the poor soil, there is a rapid decline in productivity requiring the conversion of additional forest land for agriculture. In addition, they plant single crops creating a biological semi-desert. These farms tend to over farm or graze the land for an average of 10 years before the productivity and income decline severely.
Industrial extraction of wood from Latin American tropical rain forests. Forest exploitation for timber or other industrial purposes has a tremendous impact on the natural environment. The forest entrepreneurs are oriented towards obtaining profits in the shortest time and at the least economic cost possible.
The indigenous communities' needs in respect to natural resources are changing as contact with the global society increases. There is a new urgency for income-generating activities in response to these changes. With reduced resource availability and access, the income is often needed for food. Thus, non-sustainable activities are replacing traditional productive activities. Agroforestry systems have been replaced with pasture ground or cash crops, changing the social division of labour. Changes in traditional patters of production also affects the fauna, resulting in a loss of species that were previously hunted.
Poverty, lack of opportunities to confront poverty and exhaustion of natural resources are all a source of conflict. As the resources are further degraded or exhausted, the intensity of conflicts increases. The scale of conflicts depends however of the viable options that are available to the actors. However, it is not optimal to use participants as a way of determining how conflicts are handled since the actors are heterogeneous and the strategies they use vary a great deal. Actors always handle conflicts in the way that benefits them most. If the power balance is equitable, then conflicts are often handled in a traditional manner. It is, however, through participating in the management of the conflict that communities are able to strengthen and consolidate their organizations. Community negotiators are the leaders who represent the needs of the communities and also know the margin with which they can bargain for a solution to the problem. Having information also plays an important part in how conflicts are handled. It is also important to form alliances. S/he who has a greater proportion of power has more possibilities of resolving a conflict in her/his favour, and it is the dependent party that is the most vulnerable. It is also important to note that communities are not homogeneous and this needs to be considered even when managing the conflict. Conflicts can be typified based on the origin of the conflict, the actors and the impact of the conflict.
by Madhu Sarin
Communities are not homogeneous. They vary by caste, tribe, class, religion, ethnicity and gender. Each of these groups is positioned in a dynamic hierarchy of social and power relations. Consideration of the heterogeneity of communities is fundamental during external interventions at the community level. Outside interventions, although positive for the community as a whole, may further marginalise and disadvantage those whose interests are not very visible and explicitly recognized.
This paper examines the role of marginalised groups and women in conflict management in community forestry. To understand the conflicts and the role of the marginalised groups and women in conflict management and community forestry, it is essential to understand the context in which conflicts occur. The context often reflects the nature of the communities. Communities are heterogeneous bodies. Communities are composed of groups with different interests, different relationships with resource use and management, and a relative level of power with which to exercise authority in community affairs. Thus, communities are likely to experience conflicts as a result of an external change that changes internal dynamics, independent of the level at which it occurs (e.g., external change at the local level or policy level change).
Forest policies in developing countries are moving towards increased privatization and devolution of control over use of the forest resource. There are several factors within this new orientation that are potential causes of conflict in partnerships between small, scattered and diverse community institutions and state forest bureaucracies. Four principle factors include: the asymmetrical and unequal relationship between the powerful state institutions and the supposedly democratic local institutions accountable to their members; the structure and norm of both the local and government institutions determines how accessible these institutions are to women and marginalised groups;27 lack of participatory approaches in policy formulation by forestry institutions, possibly resulting in imbalances in power between the two communities; 28 and the relative access the parties have to available institutional mechanisms for conflict management and for getting their voices heard.
Two cases highlight some of the principles previously discussed.
27. These groups are often overlooked by these institutions, resulting in latent conflicts.
28. The forester's limited capacity to handle social science issues, despite their training in participatory approaches, worsens this problem.
Latent gender-based conflicts in community forestry institutions. This conflict was in a cluster of primarily tribal villages in one of the least developed districts of Gujurat state. The villagers belong to three or four different tribes and a few other disadvantaged communities. There is considerable socio-economic stratification within the population and considerable differences between the women of the different communities. The largest number of households in the cluster are from the Bhil tribe, while households that belong to the Naik tribe are at the bottom of the socio-economic hierarchy. Most of the households Y
have small land holdings that they cultivate and some are completely landless. The level of household dependence on the forest for food, medicines, fuelwood and fodder varies for the households depending on availability of land and whether their land is irrigated. The prevalence of this hierarchy is seen even in the forest products that the different sub-communities collect.
The male leaders of these villages, on their own initiative and with consensus, decided to collectively protect their severely degraded forests to regenerate timber for house construction and agricultural implements for the villagers" own use. The forest management scheme involved closing the forest for the first four to five years; and hiring a full-time watchman, who was paid for by each of the families. The watchman was the only person who could take any tools inside the forest. Other members of the community could collect fallen twigs and branches and other non-timber forest products by hand. After total closure, groups started opening their forests for up to five pre-announced days a year when all member households are permitted to cut one of two coppicing shrub species for fuelwood.
At the same time, SARTHI (Social Action for Rural and Tribal Inhabitants of India), a local NGO, was holding workshops to change male leaders perception of women through experiential learning in these villages. Involved with designing and coordinating interventions in villages that would assist in increasing women's voice within forest protection groups, workshops were held oriented towards changing the male leaders' perception of women through experiential learning, emphasizing women's equal constitutional rights and national policy commitments to women's advancement, and facilitating discussions on the gender dimensions of the men's forest protection rules.
SARTHI held separate informal meetings in different villages with some male leaders and some women in different villages. It became evident that the burden resulting from the forest protection scheme fell primarily on the women of the most disadvantaged households. The scheme had also transferred some of the pressure of fuelwood collection to other, yet unprotected, forests. However, no conflict was visible.
After more than six months of SARTHI's interaction with the group, it became evident that the rules developed by the men had created a severe but latent gender-based conflict. At a village meeting organized for training, with about 25 women and 25 men, discussions regarding fuelwood availability sparked an angry outburst from one of the group's watchmen. Apparently the watchmen were facing difficulty in preventing the women form cutting fuelwood against the rules. Upon presenting an alternative management plan, which could increase fuelwood availability without compromising the goal of forest regeneration, the women openly acknowledged the hardships that they faced in collecting fuel wood.
SARTHI also had discussions with women from three of the groups in small homogeneous groups or individually. Through these discussions it was possible to understand the subtle class and gender-based negotiations for adapting the access controls that had taken place within and between different groups. For example, within the Bhil majority community of Asundriya village, the men were compelled to introduce selective harvesting of fuelwood to win their women's cooperation. However, the capacity to negotiate minimal improvements was not uniform for all the women. In fact, some of the negotiations, done successfully by the women of relatively better off communities generated new conflicts between women. For example, the Bhil women cut Anogeissus latifolia for fuelwood, a species used by the marginalised Naik women for gum, which was a source of income, for fuelwood. Thus, although not discernible on the surface, women dependent on the forest for fuelwood and fodder relied on alternative mechanisms for conflict management since they did not have access to institutional mechanisms for conflict management.
The situation of the women in the village shows that community forestry interventions at the community level do not necessarily have the same impact on all the constituents of a community, especially when it is not a homogeneous community. Often the resulting drastic curtailment of women's access to forest resources without any reduction in their gender-based responsibilities for household provisioning can generate acute latent gender-based conflicts.
Of the different groups within the community, the women (and men) of the most marginalised groups (such as the Naiks) have very limited ability to negotiate their interest. Consequently, such sub-communities have to resort to challenging the new access regime by violating the rules in practice. Thus it is important to have a conceptual understanding of the dynamics of hierarchical power relationships within communities to more effectively alter the balance of power so as to favour the relatively powerless. SARTHI took the steps to facilitate perceptual and attitudinal change about gender relations among both women and men and took an uncompromising stand on women's equal rights. They promoted the transformation of traditional community institutions by incorporating women and motivating recognition of women as equally responsible adults in their own right, based on an explicit goal of long-term empowerment of women. SARTHI's involvement also shows that facilitating manifestation and management of such latent or hidden conflicts requires initiating slow processes of empowerment with fairly long-term commitment on the part of the facilitators.
The role of the marginalised in conflict management under joint forest management. The case of Sukhomajri and Dhamala in North India. Sukhomajri and Dhamala villages share usufruct rights in the same forest reserve. Sukhomajri is relatively homogeneous, with approximately 80 gujjar (grazier community) households that own small landholdings and some livestock. In contrast, Dhamala is a highly stratified village, with Jats who constitute one-third of the community and own most of the land. The rest of the households belong to seven lower castes, most of which are landless. Dhamala, like Sukhomajri, has irrigation from a harvesting dam. However, the Jats have monopolized the benefits from the dam and have used it to irrigate their lands, making them self-sufficient for fodder grasses. Members of the lower caste are unable to challenge the authority of the Jats who dominate the village socially, economically and politically. The Jats provide wage work and other needs for the lower castes. As the earliest settlers in the areas, the Jats view the lower castes of Dhamala and Sukhomajri's gujjars as secondary villagers.
In the Shiwalik hill area, livestock rearing based on grazing is an integral part of the economy. Soil erosion due to indiscriminate grazing in the reserve forest in the Shiwalik hills motivated the state to enforce rules through policies and change the status of forests. However the state's measures often proved ineffective. Thus, when villagers in Sukhomajri gave up cattle and goat grazing to stall feed buffaloes in return for irrigation from a small rainwater harvesting dam, it was a major breakthrough. For residents from Sukhomajri and other villages, especially landless and members of lower castes, fodder grasses from the forest are important. During dry summers, when fodder is scarce, villagers also cut freshly sprouted Eulahopsis binata (bhabbar).
In 1983, the Haryana Forestry Department sold the fodder grass lease for the adjoining reserve forest compartment to the societies of Sukhomajri and Dhamala at a fixed price. This was an informal introduction to the principle of joint forest management. In 1986, the same Forestry Department also sold the annual bhabbar grass lease to the two societies. Sukhomajri started managing the bhabbar lease on behalf of both societies by sub-contracting it to private contractors and giving 50 percent of the net income to the Dhamala society. The villages recovered the cost of the leases by charging a grass harvesting fee from members on a 'no profit - no loss' basis. The lower caste houses of Dhamala and all the households from Sukhomajri benefited from the lower price for the fodder.
The lease for the bhabbar grass was a more complex management task. It included raising more capital to pay for the lease, harvesting, storage and marketing over a nine month cycle. With the large sums of money involved, there were speculations and suspicions that the money was not being handled fairly. Allegations were made by the Dhamala's Jats that the Sukhomajri leaders were not transparent with their lease management. Efforts were made by the Haryana Forestry Department to solve the problem. It was known that part of the bhabbar grass was being used as fodder during the early monsoon months by those most in need. This helped generate higher value from the milk produced by the Sukhomajri livestock.
The Dhamala Jats repeatedly accused the Sukhomajri leadership of not being open about how they were managing the bhabbar lease. Thus, the support team facilitated open discussions in an attempt to address the problem. During these discussions the question of wfiy the society earned only a small income from the bhabbar lease was raised. The Sukhomajri leaders explained that the bhabbar grass was used as fresh green fodder and resulted in higher value for the milk. Thus, the value addition was taking place within the village. Nevertheless, the Dhamala Jat minority complained about the low, monetary income from the commercial use of the grass. After additional meetings between the Sukhomajri, Dhamala and the JFM support team, it was agreed that the Dhamala society would manage the joint bhabbar lease on alternate years. This agreement prevented further sub-division of the land.
In 1993, the JFM support team from Haryana conducted research to understand the silvicultural impact of cutting bhabbar grass. Results showed that subsequent yields of bhabbar were reduced by the cutting. This information, instead of being used to develop an alternative management plan, was shared with the Dhamala Jats. The information, from the authority of the Forestry Department, skewed the power balance between the Dhamala Jats and the Sukhomajri. Members of Sukhomajri made efforts to resolve the conflict. It was decided to prevent the cutting of bhabbar grass without consulting all the villagers. This increased problems with members of the community who were dependent on the forest grass. Thus, the office bearers who had independently made this decision were voted out of power and a new managing committee was chosen. The Forestry Department's decision to not recognize the new managing committee skewed the power balance against the majority. In 1995, the Forestry Department unilaterally divided the forest compartment between the two societies against Sukhomajri's wish.
The `grass politics' battle between Sukhomajri and Dhamala has essentially been over cattle grazing in a public forest resource. Priorities are diametrically different, as are interest groups. Those most dependent on the grasses, the lower castes of Dhamala and those in Sukhomajri, have paid the largest opportunity cost; despite the latter having made the initial effort to prevent uncontrolled grazing. Now there are conflicts regarding the appropriate boundaries of the forest. How can the marginalised group protect their resource rights from being removed by the dominant group, even after several years of equity promoting interventions? The other questions are about the unequal power inherent in `partnerships' between state bureaucracies and community institutions. A third important issue is that there are often invisible and unrecognized, inequitable impacts of standard silvicultural prescriptions.
Both these cases present the importance of understanding that communities are not homogeneous. The position of marginalised groups and women in different cultures has to be clearly understood. It is important to consider the power dynamics within communities, be committed to balancing the power disparities that occur within communities and empower those who are marginalised and often powerless in the communities so that they are able to protect their interest.
Women are the most marginalised group in developing countries although they share direct dependence on community-managed forest resources. They are often resourceless and concentrated in the subsistence sectors of economies. Thus, it is important to use community forestry to include these groups in decision-making processes regarding resource management. This is extremely important with the increasing complexities of globalized national economies, greater competition for scarce natural resources and the changes occurring within traditional systems. Because of resource scarcity and increased competition, there is marginalisation even among women, depending on their tribe, caste and class. The oppressed can also become oppressors. Thus, external interventions made at the community level have to recognize that communities are not always homogeneous. Outside interventions should ascertain equitable representation for marginalised groups in decision-making and empower these groups to present their interests.
by Bruce J. Cabarle and Owen J. Lynch
National legal systems and the public institutions that have legal jurisdiction over forest resources have an important impact on the frequency, intensity and outcome of conflicts between competing interest groups. Such systems and institutions can skew the favour towards the political and economic elite. The national legal systems and policies that recognize community-based rights and management systems helps to balance the political power and reduce the frequency and intensity of conflicts.
In this paper, community-based management is invoked only in reference to initiatives that are primarily controlled and legitimated from within a community. Community forestry works towards maintaining and creating incentives for community-based resource management, allowing those most dependent on and knowledgeable about the resource to operate in an ecologically and economically sustainable manner. From a legal standpoint, the success of community-based resource management is dependent on providing the local community with tenurial rights over the natural resource. Community-based tenurial tights do not have an individualistic angle. Instead, they put the rights of the greater community first and consider the communities responsibility towards their future generations. Community-based systems and rights draw their legitimacy from all the members of the community respecting them although they operate within a state legal framework.
As countries of Asia, Latin America and Africa make the transition from colonies to modern nation states, there is an increasing understanding of the importance of community-based natural resource management. This is shown through the increasing number of projects, laws and policies that support such resource management. Nevertheless, there are few countries that formally recognize or appreciate community-based management systems and tenurial rights or other contributions by forest-dependent peoples to conservation and sustainable management. The history of the forest policy and legal system in these countries helps clarify the situation. Only recently have academics and experts in different fields challenged the benefits of centralized regulatory agencies. This is all assisting in reaching the objective of developing a system that gives more recognition and appreciation for native values, rights and aspirations.
The limited bargaining power of the forest-dependent communities makes it hard to promote legal and policy reform or participate effectively in managing natural resource conflicts. Nevertheless, communities still manage the resource and continue to recognize local tenure over forest resources. To allow this to happen more effectively, it is important to create the appropriate incentives to develop the appropriate legal, economic and regulatory relationship between local communities and the government. private sector, NGOs. etc. To secure an enduring relationship that promotes sustainable forest management. local communities should understand what their options, rights and concomitant duties are in regard to national laws. Such efforts have been made in the Philippines and Mexico. Additional information is presented below.
The Philippines. Despite the continuous disempowerment of forest-dependent communities, there are certain countries in Asia that support community-based forest management. There is increasing support through laws/policies but very little implementation, and many laws, policies and programmes are more than superficially contradictory.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) of the Philippine Government has the legal right to allocate the use and management of public forests. Thus communities that lived in the forest were displaced, even with force, especially when there was rampant and unsustainable commercial logging. Thus a country that formerly had 30 million hectares of forest now has less than half a million hectares of primary forest and three to six million hectares of secondary and residual forests.
Efforts are being made to enhance the generally weak bargaining power of the forest-dependent communities so that they can better defend their interests and effectively participate in managing natural resource conflicts. Efforts have involved innovative legal and policy research, lobbying of legislators and other government officials and on-the-ground initiatives by NGOs to disseminate information to forest communities to defend and assert their rights, including the delineation and mapping of their territorial perimeters.
The demographic research showed that the government did not have an accurate record of the number of Filipinos residing in classified forest zones. The legal research found the national laws that support community-based property rights, including parts of the Bill of Rights, the Civil Code and the Public Land Act. The existing Philippine laws concerning possession and native title provided the legal foundation for a policy of recognition of indigenous community-based property rights, including those that overlap with forests. However, there was insufficient support for the communities. Nevertheless, using the legal information. the forest-dependent communities and their allies were able to convince the DENR to recognize the ancestral-domain claims of indigenous forest-dependent communities.
The government showed its willingness to recognize the ancestral-domain claims of indigenous forest-dependent communities by developing the Certificates of Ancestral Domain Claims (CADCs) of a community, and Certificates of Ancestral Land Claims (CALCs) of individuals of families/clans. These will provide the documented evidence of property rights. The National Integrated Protected Areas Act of 1991 also has a section that states that ancestral land and customary rights have to be recognized even within designated protected areas, that indigenous communities will be identified and that ancestral domain will be delineated and demarcated, and that plans and rules for managing the resource will be formulated and implemented in a participatory manner. Despite the formulation of these laws, there has been limited funding to actually implement them.
With the increasing pressure from NGOs and forest communities, the government has developed alternative programmes for granting tenurial rights to public forest-zone occupants that fall short of recognizing private community-based rights. The three main programmes include:
the Integrated Social Forestry Programme (ISFP) - which leases small areas of public classified forest land;
the Forest Land Management Agreement (FLAIR) - which is oriented towards commercial plantations, and
the community forestry programme (CFP) - which offers communities the opportunity to manage a forest area for 25 years in a way agreed upon between them and the forest service.
In addition to this, the DENR's Department Administrative Order (DAO) 60 of 1993 requires that holders of the Industrial Forest Management Agreement (IFMAs) must identify communities living within the target areas and give them notice of the application, and applicants must enter into mutually agreeable benefit-sharing agreements with local residents. However, the latter order was issued after many communities had been legally marginalised by timber concessions through an earlier government policy.
The latter has created violent conflicts as is seen with the case of ALSONS. which covers 20,000 hectares in the province of Davao del Norte. overlapping with the ancestral domain of 19,000 indigenous people. All this shows that new laws and policies that replace earlier bad ones are not sufficient. In addition to this, communities must know their legal rights so as to be able to use them to most effectively manage natural resource conflicts. NGOs are involved in capacity building in the area of legal information and paralegal training. There is also a need to develop opportunities for economic development and to promote a common understanding of the problems and approaches and to better promote the recognition of community-based management. The importance and urgency with which these changes were necessary are reflected in the Baguio Declaration, a soft-law instrument.
Mexico. Eighty percent of 'Mexico's forest lands are occupied by over 8.000 indigenous communities and committees in communal or ejidal holdings. The remaining 15 percent are privately held, and 5 percent are public forest lands. In 'Mexico. like many other countries in the region, the government is the owner of the forest resources and allocates rights to the resources as it considers appropriate. Between 1941 and 1976 forest concessions were issued by a presidential decree without considerations for the welfare of and impact on the forest-dependent local communities. Concomitantly. the free title to lands were removed to allow way for concessions, on the premise that the ejidos had no ability to manage the forests. During this time communities challenged the status quo.
During this time, a success story of conflict management was when the indigenous Zapoteca community of San Pabli Macuiltianguis in the Sierra Juarez mountain range challenged the presidential decree to grant a 261,000 hectare forest concession to a foreign company. FAPATUX. The company had to deal with the local community to negotiate yearly contracts, but with the assistance of the government were able to monopolize stumpage rates etc. The local communities formed allies with other communities and organized themselves so as to increase their bargaining power and manage the conflict effectively. Through the Union de Pueblos Abastecedores de Materia Prima the communities placed sufficient pressure on the company through boycotts and forcing them to shut down for a short period of time. The company organized a negotiating body to meet with the community. Another organization, the Organizacion en Defensa de lox Recuros Naturales y Desarrollo Social de la Sierra de Juarez, focused on challenging the renewal of FAPATUX's concession. This organization extended its agenda to include requesting training in forest management, administration and technical assistance, so that the local communities could manage the concessions themselves. When the concession contract expired, the communities waged a successful legal battle with their new found allies. The communities negotiated an agreement to become equal partners, owners and sellers with FAPATUX. During this time, several NGO support groups assisted in providing the necessary assistance with training in business administration and the technical assistance required to design and implement forest management plans.
In 1986 the forestry law was reformed. After this, concessions were phased out in favour of ejidal and communal arrangements. Since the 1980s there has been an emergence of community forestry. Towards the end of 1980, the communities had to determine how to obtain affordable technical forestry services. which were provided only by the government. These services were expensive and rather inefficient. The communities also wanted to increase the transparency with which the FIFONAFE trust fund (a community development trust fund that collected money from stumpage fees) was managed. To deal with these problems, the communities in the Sierra Juarez region affiliated into two groups: the Union de Campesinos y Ejidos forestales de Oaxaca (UCEFO) and the Union Zapoteca-chinanteca de la Sierra Juarez (UZACHI). These two groups worked on reducing the dependence on government services and pushed the government to manage the FIFONAFE trust fund more transparently and eventually hand the control over to the communities, Local communities that are well organized internally, are better able to access and effectively use law.
In many countries forest-dependent communities are not major players in the national and state-level legal arenas. However, communities., through internal consensus alliances, research, etc., can increase their leverage and bargaining power and reshape the legal interpretations to improve their status. Using some of the tools shown above, in the short-term, may generate and/or intensify conflict with external groups that currently enjoy legal access to contested forest resources. It is also important to note that having laws that recognize ownership and use of forest resources will not eliminate natural resource conflicts between forest-dependent communities and other actors, Communities are often heterogeneous, thus having different needs from the resource base. National legal systems and government regulations are significant determinant factor in the prevalence, frequency and intensity of conflicts as well as the equity of final outcomes' Thus. laws that recognize this diversity and that forest communities are dynamic, will assist in adequately dealing with conflicts.
by Alfonso Peter Castro and Kreg Ettenger
The basic premise of this paper is that conflicts exist to a different extent in each community. However, the way these conflicts are man, aged/addressed varies, depending on the social and historical perspective of the communities. Disputes are public recognition of conflicts. Public acknowledgment of conflicts depends on the society, and whether they approves of public confrontation, whether the power disparity is severe, etc. Disputes are often based on complex conflicts and can have major implications because of the social, political, cultural and environmental context embedded within it. Although the specific mechanisms for handling conflicts may vary within communities. the basic procedures used include avoidance, coercion. negotiation, mediation, arbitration and adjudication. The procedure or mechanism used will depend on the situation of the party, their relationship with their opponent and -which of the different means will provide them with a greater chance for success. Communities have their own views regarding legitimate and illegitimate authority, and sometimes appeal to the legal orders rooted in the nation-state. religion, ethnic group, caste. local custom or other entity. It has been said that community forestry disputes are largely handled through legal forums and procedures used for dealing with other land-based issues. In many places the nature, intensity and traditional structures for addressing natural resource conflicts have changed due to external social and economic forces as well as intemal pressures. These forces often disregard the adaptability and resilience of local practices.
Indigenous knowledge is interpreted as local knowledge as well as knowledge that is shaped and delimited by the distinctive characteristics of a particular place. Indigenous knowledge has two characteristics: (i) it is a product of a long process of adaptation to a particular environment; and (ii) it applies to a small, relatively homogeneous group. Indigenous knowledge is a form of common wisdom that allows communities to carry out their every day, activities and to resolve conflicts in a manner that maintains the local community balance. This knowledge is applied for different things, but does not define strict rules by which the community is to operate. Instead, it is a set of ideas and tools that different individuals can use or draw from depending on the situation and their own knowledge.
Local dispute resolution mechanisms are part of indigenous knowledge. These are not predetermined by precedence in customary law but rather used based on the specific case. Four that are examined in detail in the paper include: negotiation, mediation, arbitration and adjudication. There are also several other mechanisms-including peer pressure, gossip. violence, witchcraft, etc., that are not discussed here.
Negotiation is most commonly used in local-level dispute resolution. The advantage of negotiation is that it is inexpensive, flexible, respects local values and customs, is participatory, involves collaborative decision-making, is based on consensus and fosters reconciliation. However. enforcing the agreed settlement is difficult and usually involves peer pressure or other sanctions.
Consequently, local-level negotiation is not effective when there is significant social or geographical distance between the disputants. Negotiation requires selecting the appropriate arena. This is often culturally defined. For example, in Zambia negotiation takes place at informal meetings like moots which is a 'quasi-legal' or extralegal forum composed of kinfolk and neighbours who are called based on the need. This setting derives its legitimacy from the moral authority of the community and its members.
Disputants look to negotiate in arenas that they think will assist them in defending their rights in the negotiation. This is why each party recruits kinfolk and neighbours to assist in the negotiation. Often the disputant allies are seen as a measure of the validity of the argument. Bargaining procedures vary widely, however, and the principle is based on consensus. Often mediators play a major role in gaining concessions and building consensus. However, joint decision-making in negotiations does not necessarily guarantee a more harmonious or longer lasting settlement. Nor does it ensure an equitable or more balanced solution. when compared to other mechanisms.
Mediators are commonly used in negotiation. They are usually a neutral third party trusted by the disputants. Mediators focus on promoting ongoing dialogue and do not have the authority to impose a settlement. What is crucial is the mediator's ability to persuade both parties to find a mutually acceptable solution. In several communities, mediators are older, wiser members (usually men) of the community who have shown to be talented in making wise decisions and arguments in past litigations. Arbitration is a process that overlaps with mediation. In the former, the parties submit a dispute to a mutually agreeable third party who renders an advisory or binding decision. The arbitration forums also allow for local participation and are open to the community. Arbitrators need to know the official language, be literate, have skills in book-keeping and an ability to navigate in wider administrative and legal settings. Arbitrators are usually prosperous male elders with speaking skills and sound judgement. In many cases they possess formal or informal leadership positions. National governments sometimes coopt or set up their own community-level arbitration forums. This provides the local communities with greater access to dispute processes but also extends state control over local dispute resolution. With new social and political realities comes the increasing use of adjudication. The decision-making in adjudication is vested in judges and administrators, who possess the authority to impose a settlement on disputants. This mechanism is based on legal norms. However, this approach is often considered inappropriate since it shows limited concern for the complexities of local relationships.
A history of forest conflict and negotiation in Kenya. The Njukiine forest in central Kenya was a common property resource managed by local Gichugu Gikuyu and Embu elders. After British colonization, the British took over the large forests of Mount Kenya and left the smaller Njukiine forest in local hands. The Gikuyu moved into this area. Initially the local lineages accepted the newcomers with whom they reached agreements regarding clearing and other concerns.
As immigration increased. the area was threatened with being treated as an open-access resource. The litigation was submitted to more formal courts since the newcomers found the lineage-based moots an unsuitable forum for negotiations. At the local native council, without representation of either the newcomers or women it was decided that the area belonged to the lineages.
Following this, the British administration had conflicts with the local communities regarding forest clearing and land degradation. The administration sought to negotiate with the landowners and councilors, without upsetting the existing social balance, so that communities would not protest. The agreement that was reached was not maintained. So the villagers, fearing loss of control over management of the forest, agreed to relinquish control, provided that it be placed under the council's jurisdiction and that the elders be involved in drawing the boundaries.
Nevertheless, deforestation continued. Thus, the forest was placed under the council's trusteeship. Eventually the council also took control over the management of the forest. Under this arrangement, certain uses of the forest were forbidden. This finally assisted in reducing the clearing of the forest. Despite the success of the agreement, the British tried to renegotiate the administration of the forest. They proposed that Njukiine be turned over to foresters. The proposal was rejected, but the council and the department worked together in managing the forest as a commercial plantation. The officials used this collaboration to convince the council to codify by-laws and designate the area as a reserve. This guaranteed the use of the area for forestry purposes. In the midst of the Mau Mau war, the administration pressed again to gain authority over management. This time, the politically-weakened council accepted the proposal. Post-independence, the successors to the local council tried to renegotiate the agreement. Various possibilities for management were explored, but their proposal was rejected. This case shows the complexity of a conflict and how when there are numerous forest users there are several needs. The case also highlights the force of external pressures and how power differences can determine who is in the arena of contention.
Articulating local knowledge in state structures: The Cree of Quebec. Natural resource conflicts between the Cree and other northern Canadian native communities have increased due to population growth, the impact of hydroelectric projects, forestry and mining. In response to this, the Cree have adapted the indigenous management systems, which include dispute management mechanisms.
Previously, the tallyman played a significant role in controlling resource use since the tallyman had the legitimate authority to determine how to manage and share the resources from a trapline. Since, amongst Cree communities ideas like cooperation, respect and social harmony are valued, few disputes evolved into open confrontation. When the conflicts could not be resolved through informal methods, the tallyman had sufficient authority to determine what measures needed to be taken to resolve the dispute.
As the access, demand and use of the resource changed depending on pressures, more formal mechanisms for managing disputes were developed. Tally men usually complain that their status has been eroded by social changes, but in one community they have worked towards improving the status of the tallyman. With increased pressure on resources and access to the resource base, the scope of conflicts expanded. Thus, more formalized mechanisms were needed to manage such disputes.
The formal institutions necessary to deal with wildlife and forest resource conflicts were established through the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA). Such institutions include the Cree Trappers Association, which assists in solving all the welfare problems of Cree Trappers. The JBQNA institutions are innovative ways of controlling conflicts over land and resource use. These agreements also delineate the rights and obligations of the different parties and incorporate local needs and perspectives into state decision-making processes.
Thus, the JBNQA recognizes the authority of traditional managers within Cree communities and changes the Cree from being complete outsiders to the resource decision-making process, to being co-equals with government resource managers in a formalized institutional structure. Committees based on common models for managing natural resource conflicts used by both the Cree and northern Natives, emphasize negotiation and consensus building, and are successful in resolving conflicts between parties with different resource-use interests. Some of these bodies are more successful than others, depending on the government's relationship with them and whether it treats them primarily as a consulting body or not.
Government intervention vs. community interaction: Indonesia and India. In Indonesia, legal tradition involves collaborative negotiation, adjudication and mediation. Here, government officials are keen to promote mediation in environmental disputes. The structured mediation process did not assist in improving the situation since it removed the flexibility that characterized the traditional mediation tools. This case shows that although there might be the political will to incorporate indigenous alternative dispute resolution practices into public policy, it is important to know how to do this effectively. In fact., alternative dispute resolution should not be overused and seen as a means of resolving all problems, because it is important to know what already exists.
In India, efforts have been made for cooperative management of forests. The forest protection committees often give villagers an institutional setting for resource management based on their needs and knowledge. Some committees are self-initiated. The villagers, with support from sympathetic forest officials, have organized and even formed an apex body that coordinates the communities' efforts.
The case studies shows that it is valuable to recognize the role local institutions and mechanisms play in conflict management. Mechanisms based on indigenous knowledge are adaptable and flexible, and used depending on circumstances and actors. Categorizing the indigenous responses can actually be negative since it does not allow one to catch the flexible element. Regarding alternative dispute mechanisms, these are useful, but should be introduced only after considering the social, environmental, economic and political conditions. Providing information on these mechanisms would allow the communities to decide whether they want to incorporate them or not. The case studies have shown that it is possible to integrate conflict resolution mechanisms based on indigenous knowledge with innovative ways of addressing natural resource conflicts. It is also important to note that conflict management based on indigenous knowledge is not always (i) based on achieving consensus, (ii) fair and equitable. (iii) supported by all community members with equal enthusiasm, or (iv) capable of promoting sustainable resource management.
by Garry Thomas. Jon Anderson. Diji Chandrasekharan, Yolanda Kakabadse and Violet Matiru
Equal distribution of power is essential for competing parties to sit together and resolve a conflict. However, in the context of community forestry there are many different actors with differing interests and often with significant power disparities, thus methods of promoting equitable dialogue and balancing the power are necessary. The paper presents three cases in which the power differences between the conflicting parties are pronounced. Each of these conflicts are in different stages of conflict.
Logging and conflicts in the rain forest of Cameroon. Cameroon is currently the seventh largest tropical timber exporter in the world. The timber concessions are predominantly under foreign companies, which control approximately 80 percent of the harvestable area. The conflict in this case is between the forest-dwelling community and private companies and the government. The companies are often autonomous and self-sufficient, do not hire locals from the area in which they are harvesting and are not undertaking sustainable harvesting. The latter is threatening the availability of bushmeat and causing extinction of certain trees that the people are dependent upon (e.g., the Moabi tree, Baillonella toxisperma). The private companies are gaining benefits from the forest at the expense of the local communities. The local communities were interested in economic development, but have found that through timber concessions, they have lost control over their resources and are not really benefiting from economic development. The conflict is marked by large power disparity between the community and private company as well as between the government and the private company.
Previously, the allocation of timber concessions involved negotiations and agreements between the timber concession company and local communities. Since 1980, this approach was supplanted by a tax policy wherein the national administration levies `local development taxes' on the company. This change in policy has weakened the communities control over the private concessions. The communities feel that the investment is lagging and is not commensurate with the exploitation occurring to their natural resource. The companies do not face any binding responsibility for the regeneration of the natural resource or concern regarding social impact. The communities have informal agreements with the company, but if these are not upheld there is no mechanism to legally bind companies to their word. Thus the companies are oriented towards short-term investments and do not have any incentives for long-term interest of the natural resource. The disparity in power between the government and the private company further accentuates the power disparity between the local communities and the logging companies. The Government of Cameroon is oriented towards generating income from the natural resource. These interests often conflict with the needs of local communities. However, because the government officials are seldom paid on time they tend to find alternative ways of making money, one of which is to work in favour of the private company. Thus, the communities which are weak, are unable to deter the government from making agreements with foreign companies or raise forest fees in an attempt to generate more income, government officials are unwilling to make such changes because it might affect the mutually beneficial relationships between government `elite s' and foreign business.
The weak economic position of the government also creates an open-door policy towards donor resources. This often results in projects with conflicting objectives. leaving the forest communities to be most affected by the projects/programmes. The power disparity in turn affects the access to the resource, the distribution of the benefits, the use of the resource, who has the decision-making power and the type of approach used to manage the conflict, For example, the community wrote to internationally powerful decision-makers whom they felt could influence the companies to consider local needs. However, when this and other nonviolent approaches used were ignored, the communities resorted to unorthodox and physical means to make their position understood, including blockading the timber companies and kidnapping the expatriate workers. The situation allowed the private companies to coopt the government and members of the community. In addition to this. the conditionalities of loans and projects, that did not always consider the impact at a local level, constrained the government. This could exacerbate government weakness vis-à-vis the private sector.
Rewriting the forestry law in Bolivia. This case study talks about the conflict management processes used in attempts to revise forestry legislation in Bolivia in a participatory manner in a larger administrative bureaucratic culture that has limited room for participatory decision-making. In 1994, the Bolivian Government began discussions regarding the revision of the forestry law of their country. There were competing economic, ecological and social interests, including those of the commercial timber industry, government authorities, local communities and environmental NGOs, parliamentarians and delegations on international conventions such as CITES or the Biodiversity Convention. The disparate and contentious positions in the discussion persuaded the policy-makers to press for a facilitated discussion of the issues. Thus. a private organization, Fundación Futuro Latinoaméricano (FFLA), was hired to facilitate a one-day meeting with the objective of reaching a consensus on the most contested points in this revised law.
In order to maximize the use of the time available during the meeting, FFLA was very active in pre-meeting preparations. These were oriented towards balancing the power of all the different actors at the table. The pre-meeting preparations involved: background research on the history of forest policy law, the economic, ecological and social interests, the rationale involved; a background paper that was to be circulated to all the participants; a proposed agenda: ground-rules for the meeting: and a list of all those who attending the meeting. FFLA also dealt with the logistics and worked towards setting the right atmosphere for the discussions. During the meeting. the FFLA co-mediators facilitated a discussion on the existing inequitable conditions of development, the traditional patterns of over-exploitation of natural resources. the responsibility of leaders to secure equity and improvement of the lifestyles of the majority of the people and the principles of sustainable development. The facilitators leaned towards the elements of conflict that needed to be addressed. including power imbalance (including gender issues) and did what they could to balance the situation.
Significant progress was made during the meeting. However. a final agreement was reached regarding the proposal for a new Bolivian Forestry Law, but most of the contentious points were discussed and agreed upon, including: timber concessions, contracts, evaluations, and the role of the government: fee structure: division of responsibility of the Ministry of Sustainable Development and the Ministry of Industry. The facilitated discussion resulted in benefits other than the draft of a new forestry law. The dialogue allowed for the decision-makers from different interest groups to present their position and negotiate. The collective effort helped the level of accomplishment and identified the weakness and gaps in the existing legal and institutional framework. The two FFLA facilitators felt that being familiar and conversant with the technical, socio-cultural and commercial aspects related to forestry was critical for their being accepted by all parties. Plus, the fact that the facilitators were both Latin Americans, but not necessarily Bolivians, also helped. Thus, the meeting was able to surpass the traditional arguments based on class interest and bureaucratic territoriality.
Creating village forest reserves in Tanzania. In 1995, eight villages adjacent to a 90 km2 forest in Babati District received village title deeds. This granted them full authority over the forest lands that border their village. The government also approved the village by-laws and rescinded the local government control over the same resources. The process for achieving this is shown with respect to the Duru-Haitemba forest in the area.
The Duru-Haitemba forest, a medium-canopy, dry-woodland area, is located close to settled agropastoral communities. The forest had been used in a sustainable manner for fuelwood and building material needs and for grazing, honey and other forest products. In the early 1980s, the government made a unilateral decision to begin converting the forest area into a registered forest reserve. A forest guard was hired and given the sole authority to issues permits for access into the forest. With this approach, there was a decade of conflict and unsustainable forest use and the gradual weakening of a sense of local responsibility and a growing feeling of popular disempowerment.
When a survey team, part of the Regional Forestry Programme funded by the Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA), began to formally demarcate the boundary of the proposed reserve, representatives of the villages appealed to both the consulting team and the government and were able to halt the process. A more inclusive and highly participatory process was adopted in which the villages developed a village Forest Management Plan.29 participated on the survey teams, and selected 50 villagers as forest guards. Although the process was time-consuming, demanding and involved negotiations, the villagers found the experience empowering, giving them ownership and control of the forests.
The forest management plans embodied the principles and rules that government foresters advocated, thus encouraging government officials' support of the process. Also, these forests were not of great commercial value. hence, a village-based management plan that could be administered at no cost to the government was very attractive. The process involved an external facilitator who took part in the formal process beginning with PRA and survey of the forest, developing the management plans and the brokering of the village Forest Reserves approach to the government officials. The consultant (facilitator) used classic conflict management approaches, serving as a link between parties or as mediator: co-mediator in different forums: helping people and groups to identify the relevant actors; assuring representation; articulating and prioritizing issues; rephrasing parties' statements; making certain that different perspectives are presented and understood; exploring alternatives and the workability of proposed solutions; securing a willingness to break new ground and take risks; and keeping track of tentative contractual language. The facilitator consciously politicized the conflict, helping people mobilize and gain support, and dealt with power imbalances this way. The villagers and government officials were able to recognize the similarity in their interest and form a partnership. After a year, the eight villages received title deeds to their portion of the forest, approval of the management plan and village by-laws, legally recognizing their responsibility in managing the forest.
From the three case studies some preliminary hypotheses include:
economic and commercial interest can often make conflicts more difficult to resolve since the stakes involved are often very high;
when the power disparity is pronounced, a facilitator can be important in levelling the playing field and promoting equitable dialogue;
the facilitator has to be knowledgeable of the issue, skilled in conflict management and come from outside the area to be respected and accepted by both parties;
an outside, multilateral or bilateral agency can have both positive and negative effects on the conflict situation. The international agency can use its position and power to promote equitable dialogue, making a beneficial contribution to the process of conflict management;
the political, legislative and institutional framework, both formal and informal, if oriented towards promoting rural areas. participation and decentralization, can contribute towards empowering forest-dependent communities and promoting equity;
having alliances and alternative options assists in promoting equitable dialogue between conflict parties;
local communities that are well organized can better safe-guard their position and interest;
to effectively level the playing field there is a lot of time and commitment required/involved; and
availability of information can significantly reduce power inequities.
29. This plan discusses conservation principles and includes lists of rules regarding forest use and permits.