Devolution and Co-management of Forest Resources: A Comparative Impact Analysis of Two Integrated Social Forestry Projects

Josefina T Dizon
Vol 7 No 2 (2004), pp. 29-46




In the 1980s, a paradigm shift occurred in the management of Philippine forest and other natural resources with the birth of people-oriented forestry policies and programs. Guided by the philosophy of participation, equitability, and sustainability, the government promulgated policies which provided for the co-management of these resources involving the state, community-based organizations (CBOs), and the private sector. The paradigm shift towards co-management created space for local communities in the management of the forest resources, which, since time immemorial, were considered state-owned by virtue of the Regalian doctrine. Through devolution of some of the state power and responsibilities over forestland to CBOs, the latter were given the opportunity to become de facto forest managers. The paper discusses the impacts of devolution on a number of community aspects, namely, the quality of resources under the community’s management, community livelihood, and well-being, and political capacity. Conditions, which contributed to the creation of this space, include the nature of the community’s social capital, stake on the forest, presence of policy, and presence of external agents. The big question, however, is to what extent can the communities maintain this space? Are there long-term strategies to secure this space that they have acquired?


Keywords: Integrated Social Forestry Project. Co-management, forest resources management, devolution, space

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