Forest Governance Measuring Tools within Collaborative Governance of Tropical Landscapes: Book Review

By: Gabriel Thoumi
April 19, 2011

Conservation projects at the landscape level in the tropics often require collaborative governance because there are many factors that may be involved with conserving and enhancing the ecosystem services with a landscape-based project. Yet as eloquently described in Collaborative Governance of Tropical Landscapes, significant issues remain in designing and implementing effective collaborative governance models for tropical landscapes. By surveying project implementation, measurement and attribution analysis across five tropical countries—Cameroon, Indonesia, Laos, Madagascar, and Tanzania—the authors have distilled common themes that provide for benchmarking successful landscape level forest conservation projects in the tropics.

1. Collusion between government and industry
2. National policy risk
3. Pluralistic governance challenges
4. Differing roles of men and women in governing non-timber forest products (NTFPS)
5. Lack of coherence between swidden agroforestry systems and national policy
6. Danger to hinterlands peoples from international sources such as carbon markets

While these themes are generally universal, successful local solutions can be developed and applied based on the local ecological, cultural, and government landscapes within the desired conservation area. For example, REDD (Reduction in Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) funding may create incentives to bring resolution to these six common themes, or REDD funding may in fact create further conflict over these six common themes. To mitigate this risk, while furthering better understanding of how to implement Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) onsite, the authors suggest applying a benchmarking process to measure collaborative governance by asking the following 12 questions.

1. Do ways exist for stakeholders to submit input influencing decisions and decision-makers that impact them?
2. If these ways exist, what are they and how do they function?
3. Do each stakeholder group have the same type of access to influencing decisions and decision-makers that impact them?
4. Describe how each stakeholder group capacity to influence to engage occurs.
5. Do formal land-use categories reflect common practices as exhibited in the field?
6. Are stakeholder’s rights regarding land and forests clearly defined including access, to remove NTFPs, manage land, exclusion of others, and alienate forest lands?
7. How are these rights, as described in question 6, secured through customary and national laws?
8. How do different formal and customary governance functions function?
9. When regulations and customary law is applied, are effective sanctions applied, and if so, by whom and under what process?
10. Are conflicts effectively managed?
11. How is trust described amongst and between stakeholder groups including national, regional, and local governance structures, and industry?
12. What type of links occur between outside resources and local stakeholders? How is this fiduciary duty maintained?

In summary, these twelve measuring tools can assist with securing genuine participation of local and indigenous communities through effective collaborative landscape planning in the tropics.

How to order
Collaborative Governance of Tropical Landscapes
Edited by Carol J. Pierce Colfer and Jean-Laurent Pfund
Hardcover: 285 Pages, $99.95
Publisher: Earthscan Publications
December 2010

Gabriel Thoumi frequently contributes to

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Forest Governance Measuring Tools within Collaborative Governance of Tropical Landscapes: Book Review.