Vol. 12, No. 3, BOOK REVIEWS, Bambang Hariyadi


Contents>> Vol. 12, No. 3

Participatory Forest Management in a New Age: Integration of Climate Change Policy and Rural Development Policy

Makoto Inoue, Kazuhiro Harada, Yasuhiro Yokota, and Abrar Juhar Mohammed, eds.
Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 2019.

Historically, local and indigenous populations have been stewards of tropical rainforests, including those in South and Southeast Asia. However, with European colonization, traditional forest management was supplanted by modern scientific forestry models. Post-colonization, the reins of tropical forest management were taken over by independent state governments that implemented centralized management, sidelining local participation.

From the 1970s onward, there has been a discernible shift toward integrating local communities into forest management. The centralized approach was found lacking when it came to conserving forests and addressing rural livelihood issues. Conversely, certain indigenous groups have demonstrated effective conservation of tropical forests. Engaging local communities appears to be a promising solution for enhanced tropical forest management. International development organizations have championed this by empowering locals and integrating their traditional knowledge into forest management.

Yet, the efficacy of participatory forest management remains debated, especially with respect to equity and benefit distribution, land rights, the balance between conservation and livelihoods, gender inclusion, and climate change strategies. M. H. McDermott and K. Schreckenberg (2009) posit that community forestry can address social inequity only when it specifically targets the impoverished and marginalized, with a clear focus on poverty alleviation. T. Clements and E. J. Milner-Gulland (2015) highlight the pivotal role of land tenure security in local livelihoods, emphasizing how it shapes economic well-being and strategies.

The success of community forest management hinges on various factors, including robust governance and fair benefit distribution. While it can harmonize community livelihood enhancement with forest conservation, success is not universal (Pagdee et al. 2006). Women play a crucial role in forest management, particularly as users (Agarwal 2001). Yet, they often find themselves sidelined in resource management decisions (Agrawal and Gupta 2005). Lastly, the role of participatory forest management in the REDD framework has been debated in the literature. While this holds promise for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, it demands acknowledgment and rewards for community endeavors, ensuring grassroots benefit, and adopting community-centric strategies for lasting results (Skutsch and McCall 2012).

The editors of Participatory Forest Management in a New Age delve into the burgeoning debate by adopting Inoue Makoto’s 2012 concept of “triple benefits.” This concept emphasizes forest conservation, biodiversity preservation, climate change mitigation, and the enhancement of local community livelihoods (p. 9).

The book discusses the deforestation of tropical forests, changes in forest management over time, and the interaction of local people with the forest. Modern forest management, which often excludes local people, has not effectively addressed deforestation. Involving local people in forest management is crucial for conserving tropical forests. Participatory forest management, combined with initiatives such as REDD+, forest certification, and fair trade, offers a promising approach to reducing emissions, deforestation, and degradation.

The book has three main parts, focusing on participatory forest management primarily in South and Southeast Asia. The first part delves into “Participatory Forest Management for Climate Change and Rural Development in South and Southeast Asia.” This section comprises four chapters that explore theoretical concepts along with case studies of participatory forest management policies in the region, with a particular focus on their contributions to climate change mitigation and rural development. Tropical forests in South and Southeast Asia support the lives of about one-third of the population in the region. However, there has been rampant deforestation, especially after the nationalization of forestland. The growing timber industry contributes significant income for some countries in the region. Ecological disasters such as flooding have opened the eyes of policy makers and made them amenable to applying an alternative approach to forest management, from state-centered toward participatory forest management.

Several forest management models have been applied to address degradation. The book’s contributors assess the viability of each participatory forest management model by considering three aspects: emission reduction, biodiversity conservation, and poverty alleviation using the three criteria of effectiveness, efficiency, and equity (co-benefits). The discussion about participation would have provided a more comprehensive understanding if the authors of the various chapters had also described the level of people’s involvement in each case, as outlined in the classic article by S. R. Arnstein (1969).

The book’s second part, titled “Certification Systems for Rural Development,” comprises chapters that delve into various certification schemes and critical issues pertaining to forest certification and fair trade. Enriched with case studies from Indonesia, particularly in Southeast Sulawesi, Yogyakarta, North Sumatra, and Aceh, this section provides insightful examples of forest certification and fair trade practices in rural development.

Market globalization has facilitated free worldwide trade, aiming to maximize profit through competitive principles. However, it has also increased the physical distance between producers in developing countries (south) and consumers in developed countries (north). Developing countries strive for efficient production in order to generate maximum revenue. Nevertheless, the distance between consumer and producer has created new social and environmental challenges. Although public governance has attempted to address such global issues, it has not always strengthened global–local relationships, increased civil society participation, or reinforced the market economy. In response to these challenges, certification of forest products and fair trade practices have emerged as strategies to tackle social and environmental concerns associated with market globalization.

Certification systems establish fixed social and environmental standards, encouraging consumers to purchase products that comply with these standards. These systems aim toward voluntarily rebuilding conventional market mechanisms within the relationship between local and global stakeholders. One pioneer in forest certification is the Germany-based Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), established in 1993. The international NGO aims to support forest management such that it provides economic value while improving environmental and societal impacts. The FSC label indicates certification of timber and non-timber forest products, and its adoption promotes community forestry. However, certification can be relatively expensive for small-scale producers. FSC has also developed certification systems for community forestry, gaining international recognition and trust.

Fair trade is an approach to creating equitable and positive relationships between producers and consumers through international trade. It involves buying and selling products at reasonable prices, thereby supporting producers through consumer purchases. The concept of fair trade traces back to charitable initiatives by the Christian Church in the 1940s. By the 1980s, fair trade organizations had gained momentum, primarily in Europe. One such organization is Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International (FLO), which focuses mainly on agricultural products like coffee, tea, and fruit. FLO operates primarily in Latin America and the Caribbean, setting minimum product prices, with higher prices reflecting market rates. Additionally, a premium, usually 20 cents per pound, is allocated to developing local communities through fair trade importers.

The book’s third part, titled “REDD+ as Climate Change Policies,” comprises two chapters that delve into the concept of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) and its role in balancing climate policy and rural development. Additionally, this section provides insights into REDD+ national policy in Indonesia, along with a case study of a REDD+ project in the province of East Java.

REDD+ is a crucial policy instrument for Indonesia in combating climate change, deforestation, and forest degradation. The project aims to secure land use within national parks and promote local people’s participation, which was previously strictly prohibited by national regulations. Local communities have shown enthusiasm for joining the project. While policies and strategies related to REDD+ have been developed at the national level, further efforts are required to successfully implement REDD+ activities.

The conclusion part of the book emphasizes that the success of participatory forest management in achieving triple benefits relies on certain factors, including the specific characteristics of the targeted forests and communities, as well as the level and type of participation integrated into the program. Programs targeting protected and conservation forests show strong results in emission reduction and biodiversity conservation but limited impact on poverty alleviation, with low feasibility. Programs conflicting with the livelihoods of the targeted population have weak effects on triple benefits and low feasibility. Production forest programs tend to have higher feasibility and poverty alleviation but a weaker impact on biodiversity. Government-implemented programs have more substantial effects on emission reduction and biodiversity impact compared to programs implemented by the private sector or local people. However, poverty alleviation is more significant in programs implemented by local communities with donor support than those implemented by the private sector or government. Overall, participatory forest management is considered to have high effectiveness in increasing carbon stock, high efficiency in terms of cost, and high equity in cost and benefits distribution.

Bambang Hariyadi
Ecology and Ethnoecology, University of Jambi


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Pagdee, A.; Kim, Y. S.; and Daugherty, P. J. 2006. What Makes Community Forest Management Successful: A Meta-Study from Community Forests throughout the World. Society and Natural Resources 19(1): 33–52. https://doi.org/10.1080/08941920500323260.

Skutsch, M. and McCall, M. K. 2012. The Role of Community Forest Management in REDD+. Unasylva 239(63): 51–56.


DOI: 10.20495/seas.12.3_566