Risking Change: Experimenting with local forest management committees in Jamaica
Throughout the world, forestry departments have been rethinking the way they work to meet the challenges of a changing sector. Management that emphasises collaboration with stakeholders rather than regulation makes sense in this new context, but it involves risks. Jamaica is notable in the Carribbean region for its willingness to meet these risks head on, and in doing so has begun to create a new and positive dynamic between the Forestry Department and the people it serves.This paper presents the results of re s e a rch by the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute and the Jamaica Forestry Department (FD) on one component of Jamaica’s new approach: the establishment of two Local Forest Management Committees(LFMCs) to involve stakeholders in managing forest reserves. Eighteen months after their establishment, the LFMCs have become a channel of communication between the FD and local stakeholders that is valued by both. They have contributed to theDepartment’s watershed management plan; suggested ways in which forest management can be improved through collaboration with stakeholders; identified opportunities for increasing the contribution of forest reserves to local development; and translatedsome of these into small but ambitious projects. They are also having some influence on national policy and the institutional culture of the FD. Despite their progress, the LFMCs face a range of challenges, which this paper elaborates along with lessons for the development of LFMCs.