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Advancing equity in community forestry: recognition of the poor matters

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Abstract:

The community forestry program in Nepal has been advancing as a successful means of improving the condition of forests. However, as in other areas around the world, Nepal's community forestry initiative continues to face unresolved equity issues. This paper seeks to explore underlying causes of inequity using contemporary theories of justice. Examining two community forest user groups in the middle hill districts, the study finds that lack of recognition in interpersonal and public spheres exacerbated the powerlessness of marginalized people, reducing their participation in decision-making. The paper argues that, while distributional rules advanced by the program are crucial, the problem of recognition remains an unaddressed but necessary pre-condition for achieving equity. This suggests that policy and practice in community forestry needs to focus on broader political questions, including representation in decision making, making space for the voice of members to influence decisions, and transforming socio-economic and political institutions and cultural practices.

Keywords: Nepal; community forestry; equity; participation; recognition

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1505/ifor.12.4.370

Affiliations: 1: ForestAction Nepal, Satdobato, Lalitpur, P.O. Box 12207, Kathmandu, Nepal. 2: Crawford School of Economics and Government, Australian National University, Building 132, 0200, ACT, Australia.

Publication date: 2010-12-01

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