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Equity first or later? How US community-based forestry distributes benefits

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An understanding of how community-based forestry (CBF) generates benefits is required in order to explain their distribution. To examine this question, this paper develops a conceptual framework for understanding CBF dynamics that rests upon the fundamental premise that its transformative potential derives from a change in who gains access to resources and decision-making power. Applying the framework to several pilot cases in the Ford Foundation's US Community-based Forestry Demonstration Program, the study finds that improvements in equity, economy, and ecology may follow in sequence (and with uneven emphasis), rather than simultaneously as premised in the prevalent ideal of CBF promoted by the programme. Who gained access and decision-making power largely predicted who benefited individually, although indirect benefits at higher scales were significant. Moreover, the direct benefits of community forestry generally extended to marginalised groups only when they were specifically targeted.
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Keywords: US; community forestry; community-based natural resource management; equity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Rutgers University, Department of Human Ecology, Cook Office Building, 55 Dudley Rd, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA.

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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