The Type of Land We Want: Exploring the Limits of Community Forestry in Tanzania and Bolivia
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Subjectagricultural expansion; decentralized natural resource management; environmental justice; indigenous; multifunctional landscape
We explore local people’s perspectives of community forest (CF) on their land in Tanzania and Bolivia. Community forest management is known to improve ecological conditions of forests, but is more variable in its social outcomes. Understanding communities’ experience of community forestry and the potential benefits and burdens its formation may place on a community will likely help in predicting its sustainability as a forest and land management model. Six villages, two in Tanzania and four in Bolivia, were selected based on the presence of community forestry in varying stages. We found that communities were generally supportive of existing community forests but cautious of their expansion. Deeper explorations of this response using ethnographic research methods reveal that an increase in community forest area is associated with increasing opportunity costs and constraints on agricultural land use, but not an increase in benefits. Furthermore, community forests give rise to a series of intra- and inter-community conflicts, often pertaining to the financial benefits stemming from the forests (distribution issues), perceived unfairness and weakness in decision–making processes (procedure/participation), and also tensions over cultural identity issues (recognition). Our findings suggest that communities’ willingness to accept community forests requires a broader consideration of the multifunctional landscape in which it is embedded, as well as an engagement with the justice tensions such an intervention inevitably creates.