View from the Ground: Community Perspectives on Joint Forest Management in Gujarat, India
This paper describes locally-derived initiatives developed in response to forest resource scarcities. These initiatives comprise a diverse range of organisational forms and access controls, with group membership consisting of actual resource users irrespective of formal administrative village boundaries. The strength and effectiveness of the groups lies in consensus based, open decision-making with equitable sharing of costs and benefits. Their major weakness lies in the exclusion of women from their functioning, resulting in women's needs for forest produce, particularly woodfuel, being overlooked in forest management priorities. This leads to highly inequitable distribution of the opportunity costs of protection between women and men, and puts in doubt the long term sustainability of their forest regeneration.