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Conflict and forestry: an electronic conference on conflict resolution

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Around-the-world discussion of "virtual conflict" has led to "virtual relationships" between people eager to help the various users of the world's forests to resolve their disputes. Organizers of an Electronic Conference on Conflict Resolution, led by the Community Forestry Unit of the UN Food & Agriculture Organization, are compiling the proceedings from the E-conference which recently wrapped up, and report great success in this new way of holding meetings of the global village.

What kinds of conflict demand resolution in community forestry? Disputes are based in power relationships and the use to which a given segment of society would put the forest.

It may be that the village men want to cut trees to sell the timber while the women want to preserve the forest for the foods, medicine and animal fodder found therein. It may be that the local chief or party official has a contract with a national or international logging company and is using his power to exploit the forest. It may be that the national government and its forestry staff are too remote from impoverished, unempowered villagers to understand how the forest serves local income and food security needs.

Two case studies illustrate the problems and potential for success in seeking resolution of disputes in community forestry:

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