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Stronger by association - strengthening the position of small and medium-scale forest enterprise in the Brazilian Amazon (PLA 53)

Community-based small and medium forest enterprises (SMFEs) in the extensive and remote Amazon frontier. They account for a significant proportion of forest revenue and jobs – even if many of these are informal. High transaction costs in dealing with them often leave them marginalised from policies and markets. Marginalisation affects both traditional groups and more recently, colonists. They rarely share a common history and background. Associations are one tool that can help. Participation in associations is often an attempt to overcome isolation, poverty and political marginalisation. It helps create a sense of community and enables people to pool their resources to increase bargaining power with outsiders (Merry and Macqueen, 2004). This paper asks what forms of participation at the forest frontier enable associations to deliver. The article looks at the contexts in which participation in association has emerged in the Amazon. It assesses the institutional forms shaping that participation. The article then examines in more depth some Amazonian examples of association.

Guest-editor: Sonja Vermeulen. This special issue of PLA comes from the Power Tools initiative which aimed to develop, test and circulate existing and new tools to bridge key gaps in policy processes and content. These policy tools – tips, tactics and approaches – provide practical help to people working to improve the policies and institutions that govern access to and use of natural resources.

Participatory Learning and Action (PLA, formerly PLA Notes) is the world's leading series on participatory learning and action approaches and methods. PLA publishes articles on participation aimed at practitioners, researchers, academics and activists. All articles are peer-reviewed by an international editorial board. See: www.planotes.org

Keywords: policy, natural resource management (NRM), community-based natural resource management (CBNRM), Power Tools.

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