The Community Forestry Unit of the Forest Policy and Planning Division, Forestry Department, FAO explores the factors that affect community participation in reforestation efforts. It does so in an attempt to learn how to better involve local people in the management of their natural resources and ensure that they receive the fruits of their labour.
This case study examines the history of government-sponsored communal afforestation efforts in four communities of the Cuzco Region of Peru. The monograph conveys the village perspective on three decades of afforestation, analyzing the differential impact of tree planting efforts on various sub-groups within the village. In this manner the study examines the incentives and disincentives to tree planting for distinct groups of community members. The study also assesses the constraints to reforestation and the costs and benefits distribution problems these communities have faced. Finally, the book provides some general guidance as to factors that encourage or discourage participation in tree planting activites.
The work was first produced and published in Spanish. The research and writing of the original version was done by Luisa Vizarreta, a social scientist from the Cuzco Region. This publication is an adaptation of the original text. It is hoped that through this series of studies the constraints and problems to community forestry can be better understood and that, as a result, more effective support can be provided to local people in their efforts to improve their well-being via tree and woodland management.
Both the research and production in Spanish and English were partially funded by a multi-donor trust fund, Forests, Trees and People, which is dedicated to increasing the sustainability of women and men's livelihoods in developing countries, especially the rural poor, through self-help management of tree and forest resources. Within FAO the Programme is coordinated by Marilyn W. Hoskins, Senior Forestry Officer for Community Forestry.
This publication presents a set of case studies that relate individual communities' experiences with the Communal Reforestation Programme. The communities are roughly similar in setting, land tenure profile and years of experience with communal reforestation. The studies describe the communities and the ways their reforestation ventures developed, demonstrating the way local community requirements, social structures and institutions can affect the development of participatory reforestation efforts.
Recognizing the need for careful land management, the Peruvian government initiated the "Communal Reforestation Programme" in the 1960s. While seeking to arrest land degradation, the Programme intended to involve communities in a way that would allow them to be the principal participants and beneficiaries of reforestation efforts. The original goals were to: maximize community participation in tree planting; increase community influence in all reforestation decision-making, and; distribute the costs and benefits of the programme equitably. The degree of community participation achieved by the Programme was highly variable. Despite similar ecological and socio-economic characteristics, communities differed greatly in their response to reforestation proposals.
Four of the communities that were involved in the Government reforestation programme are discussed: Ccollana-Chequerec, Ccorao, Equecco-Chacán and Compone. They vary in the level of internal community cohesion, independence from neighbouring estates, natural resource endowments and economic status. The analysis highlights the factors that seem to have affected the success of reforestation efforts.
One of the dominant factors that influenced the development of communal woodlots was land availability. All of the case study villages had a history of land scarcity. While the communities also had a tradition of communal farming, population growth and attempts by nearby estates to monopolize land resources pressured villagers to secure their land holdings by subdividing most communal property. In a few cases, land scarcity and the need to protect an area from encroachment by outsiders encouraged villagers to emphasize their property claims by starting community woodlots in disputed areas.
The impact of land availability on support for communal reforestation was highlighted when Agrarian Reform made more land available. Opposition to tree plantations on village property softened; the availability of farmland made conversion to forest seem a smaller sacrifice. Active participation in tree planting and woodlot management was, however, often linked to the belief that the Agrarian Reform land would eventually be subdivided. Participation in communal reforestation was seen as one way to ensure the household's eventual entitlement to some of this land.
Labour availability also affected enthusiasm for communal tree farming. Many outsiders assumed that labour would be easily available thanks to the tradition of villager collaboration and cooperation. In reality, farming households did not have large amounts of free time. Household members needed to weigh the demands of community work against individual work requirements and farmers often found themselves with little time to contribute to the community. The poor and those with little or no land faced particular constraints in allocating labour to community projects, because the need to make a living through wage labour limited the time available to contribute to communal efforts.
Recruiting labour for reforestation appeared to be easier when wages were offered. When salaries were paid, the community saw the project as a source of income rather than a drain on time.
In all four villages the stipulations in the reforestation contracts between the villages and the Forestry Department negatively affected communal reforestation efforts and the distribution of its benefits. The contracts sought to ensure that harvesting would be compensated for by new planting efforts; which often provided the major impetus for new plantations. Villagers however saw it as an imposition placed upon them by outsiders. Considerable resentment and opposition were sparked when villagers found themselves losing more arable land to reforestation in order to realise benefits from the original site.
The obligation that 30% of the harvested woodlot's market value be paid to the government also often made it difficult for the communities to benefit. The debt made villagers feel obligated to sell timber at higher prices to middlemen rather than at lower prices to community members. Further, the prices paid by middlemen frequently proved unsatisfactory and made villagers reluctant to agree to further reforestation.
Foresters assumed that the constant shortage of fuelwood would encourage village-wide reforestation. Indeed, the need for fuelwood and building materials sometimes mobilized support for woodlots. In many cases, however, despite apparent local shortages of fuelwood, poles and other building timber, farming households met a good part of their needs through alternative sources. Although families were concerned about fuelwood and building material shortages, it was not necessarily their primary concern.
The socio-economic and political structure of the community seemed to greatly affect both the process of communal reforestation and the distribution of its costs and benefits. Significant socio-economic differences within the community tended to translate into different priorities related to the management of village resources. Reforestation on community lands often meant greater costs for poorer community members than for their better-off neighbours who were less dependent on access to village property. At the same time, it was often community members with larger individual plots who could take greatest advantage of eucalyptus seedling availability to plant trees on their own land.
Given differences in perspective, it is not surprising that, when the time came to decide whether to establish new plantations or harvest existing ones, disagreements often arose. Agreement was often reached only when Village Assemblies were poorly attended. In these cases, many community members became disgruntled and felt alienated, increasing the likelihood that projects would be passively resisted or sabotaged. Reforestation seemed to be more easily accepted in communities where middle income families predominated and resources were more evenly distributed.
Communal reforestation caused conflicts of interest between male and female community members. In most of the study villages, women tended to be shut out of formal Assemblies. In some communities, the land women used for grazing or to gather fuel was appropriated for reforestation. Yet the conflict of interest became evident only when project implementation began; women often continued to allow livestock to graze in plantation areas, damaging young trees. Where women were more organized and had a greater voice in the Village Assembly, they also enjoyed greater power to shape the process of community reforestation. Consequently, a greater degree of approval for reforestation was secured, lessening the risk of resistance.
The case studies reveal a complex set of factors at play in the process of village reforestation. While communal work was traditional in the communities of the Cuzco uplands, changing patterns of ownership and power, as well as a changing relationship to the outside world, made the possibility of long-term communal arrangements more difficult. Some factors, such as constant shortages of local fuelwood, the promises of tangible benefits and familiarity with communal work, appear to have encouraged community-based forest management. Other factors, however, posed severe obstacles to and caused great dissatisfaction with communal reforestation. Some factors may even have facilitated reforestation at one time and discouraged it at others.
In the region around the city of Cuzco in the Peruvian highlands, arable land has long been a critically scarce means of livelihood for the area's many impoverished peasants. Recognizing the need for careful management of this vulnerable resource, the Peruvian government initiated the "Communal Reforestation Programme". While seeking to arrest land degradation, the Programme aimed to involve communities in a way that would allow them to be both the principal participants and beneficiaries of reforestation efforts. The original goals were to: maximize community participation in tree planting; increase community influence in all reforestation decision-making, and; distribute the costs and benefits of the programme equitably.
As the Programme developed it met with sporadic success, however, in many ways it fell short of its stated aims. Early on planners saw communal reforestation as a means of generating income for community development projects. Supported by favourable market conditions for eucalyptus, focus on the commercial use of reforested areas made eucalyptus virtually the only tree species option available to communities in the reforestation programme. Despite the Programme's stated commitment to avoiding the use of arable land, the technical requirements for planting eucalyptus on a commercial scale meant that suitable plantation sites and sizes often conflicted with existing land use patterns. Community members found themselves under considerable pressure to accept the plantation size and site options deemed most appropriate by the Programme's forestry staff.
The Programme was often unable to realise either greater equity or greater decision-making power for the communities. Many communities ended-up simply agreeing or refusing to participate in the Programme, with little input into other aspects of implementation. The requirements of commercial eucalyptus cultivation took precedence over the arable land and pasture needs of poor households and those with little or no land.
The degree of community participation achieved by the Programme was highly variable. Despite similar ecological and socio-economic characteristics, communities differed greatly in their response to reforestation proposals. Some were quick to participate in the Programme, others refused outright; some could not decide whether or not to participate and then mobilized a surprising degree of active, if short-lived support later; still others eagerly participated in the Programme initially, but eventually abandoned or resisted as it continued. Community participation was intended to be one of the Programme's highest priorities, however, in the end it appeared to become only an incidental characteristic of the general attempt to reforest the region around Cuzco.
In recent years it has been recognised that programme success is often determined by the degree o which the affected communities participate in project planning, decision-making and imple- entation. Yet, as the history of the Communal Reforestation Programme around Cuzco shows, ealising this kind of participation is no easy task, even when it is a stated project goal. Part of he problem often lies in conflicting project aims or the use of project design's that are incom- atible with participation. Less immediately clear are the factors within the communities them- elves that discourage participation. Standard project reports and evaluations rarely provide ore than a superficial description of the internal characteristics of a community. These charac- eristics, if better described, might facilitate greater project participation. A closer look at the istory of the Communal Reforestation Programme within individual communities is needed to nderstand why their members decided to participate in, ignore, or actively resist proposals to plant more trees near their villages.
It is important to note that individual household estimates of costs and benefits often differed from those of the foresters and project planners administering the Programme, who tended to base their projections on what they perceived to be the majority community perspective. Hence, foresters and planners may have been caught by surprise when their reforestation proposals spurred active community resistance, even where the need for fuelwood and construction material seemed obvious.
This publication presents a set of case studies that relate individual communities' experiences with the Communal Reforestation Programme. The communities are roughly similar in setting, land tenure profile and years of experience in communal reforestation. The studies describe the communities and the ways their reforestation ventures developed. They demonstrate the way local community requirements, social structures and institutions can affect the development of participatory reforestation efforts.
Data were collected through interviews of village households, official and informal community leaders, and forestry sector employees. Information on four main aspects of community life that seemed to have greatest bearing on participation in community forestry was collected. This included: patterns of land tenure; availability of construction materials and fuelwood; community composition and social structure; community organizations and institutions that structure decision-making; and resource use and resource allocation.
The case studies highlight the degree to which these different factors affected efforts to achieve participation and equity through communal reforestation. The case studies attempt to present the villagers' perspectives. Detailed descriptions of specific developments in the villages' history are included in numerous boxes throughout the text to give the reader a familiarity with the way the process of reforestation unfolded in each community.
The studies show that the organization and strength of community decision-making bodies has an important influence on how much community participation is mobilized and how successfully trees are cultured. In addition, the studies highlight factors that may even more directly affect the level of participation that is achieved. Possibly more than any other factor, the way personal costs and benefits are perceived by different households appears to have an enormous influence. Community support for or resistance to a tree planting project often seems to come from specific sectors of a given community that see their interests either favoured or threatened.