The Network recognizes the need to develop methodologies that allow urban-based planners, researchers, and development workers to understand the perspectives and indigenous knowledge of local communities. In the 1980s, considerable effort was devoted to the creation of rapid rural appraisal (RRA) methods in Thailand and participatory rural appraisal (PRA) techniques in India and other Asian nations. In the early 1990s, a new wave of more-specialized PRA tools was created, many by Network members, to specifically address community forest management and natural regeneration concerns. This led to publication of a two-volume Methods Manual by the Society of Wastelands Development, the Ford Foundation, and the Asia Forest Network in 1993.
Community forestry PRA methods have been extremely useful in opening discussions between rural people and outside agencies involved in forest management activities. Still, much remains to be done to improve these and create other learning mechanisms to reach collaborative agreements for public land management. At the Network meeting, members reported on the development of a variety of new approaches for creating dialogues and establishing collaborative frameworks for management.
In India, divisional forest officers are playing a leadership role in the creation of manual GIS mapping techniques. Due to their familiarity with the resources and limitations of their field staff, they are well-positioned to design participatory planning tools that are appropriate for the Indian Forest Service. The design team assumes that in order to stabilize natural forest ecosystems, the establishment of access controls is a prerequisite. Access controls may be best imposed by neighboring forest communities. To achieve this goal, however, it is necessary to determine specific territories that can be protected by different community groups. This process of matching social units with spatial areas can be facilitated by participatory mapping procedures that identify historical forest rights, existing use patterns, conflict areas, and processes by which mutually acceptable agreements can be established.
Mapping tools provide diverse interest groups-including villagers, foresters, NGOs, and local government officials-with a visual framework for integrating knowledge of forest conditions and resource conflicts. By focusing attention on a visual representation of the forest territory, different perspectives on management problems and opportunities can be integrated, allowing for the development of a common framework for analysis.
These new procedures may, in part, replace earlier methods that have been used for over a century and that no longer respond to the emerging information needs of new joint forest management systems. The manual GIS technique involves the use of existing topographic maps on a scale of 1:50,000. These maps are well-suited to the task as they include information on local settlement distribution, providing the names and locations of each residential settlement as well as public and community forest boundaries. Plastic acetate sheets are overlaid on the map, with colored pens used to draw in each forest user village and its interaction with a specific forest patch (see Figure 7). On Sheet 1, territorial and village boundaries are demarcated. On Sheet 2, forest-user villages and vegetational characteristics are identified. Sheet 3 is used for management issues, including areas with illegal logging, overgrazing, heavy fuelwood headloading, etc. Finally, Sheet 4 is used to identify clusters of communities co-dependent on a specific forest area, representing possible larger management units. Forest patches where individual community rights and responsibilities need clarification and demarcation can be enlarged to a scale of 1:10,000. This provides a map appropriate for village-level discussions.
Manual geographic information system mapping tools
- Low cost
- Easy updates
- Facilitates common understanding of field reality
- Provides a framework for ongoing planning
- Fun to work with
- convenient format for data collection
Using the manual GIS, solutions or interventions become apparent, such as identifying a particular community that could benefit from regular meetings or assistance from extension workers, or a particular district that could use the skills of a mediator or technical assistance. Land use classification and zoning systems used by government planning agencies commonly draw upon the science of regional planning. While the terminology and tools of this field have much to offer, they have not included indigenous land use knowledge or the analytic categories used by local communities. For example, most of Vietnam's fifty-eight ethnic minority groups practice different forms of upland, long-rotation agriculture. These cultural communities clear and burn their land in a variety of ways, leave it fallow for varying periods, and interact with their watershed forests differently.
Box 2: Community-Network Exchange in Talipanan, Philippines
One of the meeting highlights was a half-day cross-learning visit with Talipanan Iraya villagers of Mindoro Island. Three village men came by boat to the conference center for a morning of open discussion, followed by conference participants taking bangas, the Philippines' waters taxi, to the village site to continue discussions with the other community members of the village. The talks focused on the traditional forestry practices of the Talipanan Iraya and comparisons with Network member countries. The current Philippines' initiative to delineate ancestral domains to ensure greater tenure security was of great interest to conference participants, and the Talipanan benefited from hearing of the many communities throughout Asia working to stabilize their natural resources.
Traditionally Talipanan Iraya, of the Mangyan tribe, live along the upper slopes of the Talipanan watershed. During the 1970s following an influx of migrants in to the area, members of these communities moved down to the lowland areas and the coast regions for education and livelihood opportunities. In the early 1980s, the remaining upland communities were abandoned when residents sought refuge from encounters between military and insurgents in the area. The present community of Talipanan Iraya, however, still maintains a close relation to its traditional community lands and forests of the Talipanan watershed.
The cultural practices and beliefs of the Talipanan Iraya are woven into the use and management of resources. Dreams are believed to provide indicators regarding suitable sites for farming. Formal recognition to use the land is granted during community meetings. The Iraya practice traditional methods of sustainable shifting agriculture and home gardening. Each family owns two to three gardens, covering about 2 hectares and planted with a variety of fruit and woody trees. Although very little forest remains, the forest gardens provide a focus for regeneration. Fuelwoods is gathered from the forest only when the Iraya are tending the gardens or farming; otherwise driftwood is collected.
The Talipanan Iraya continue to rely on their traditional leaders and cultural institutions. Regular meetings are held in huts, and community decisions are made by the older male members. The Iraya have also formed a district council with all other Mangyan tribes in Mindoro. This board is supported by several NGOs and religious groups. The purpose of the board is to assist the Mangyan tribal communities to gain greater access and control of their natural resources through recognition of their ancestral rights to lands and tribal domains in Mindoro. Network members of the Environmental Research Division (ERD) of the Malina Observatory have assisted the Talipanan Iraya community with a series of mapping exercies as a means of assessing the management potential of the area. At this writing, they are expecting a imminent approval of a certificate for ancestral domain claim and are now requesting ERD to assist them in documenting their indigenou agroforestry practices.
Each group's land use practices have different effects on the biodiversity, forest cover, and hydrology of the natural environment. By using the indigenous names for each type of land use system, land use classifications can much more accurately describe how the resource is being utilized.
The Environmental Research Division (ERD) of the Manila Observatory has used indigenous classification on a more micro level to begin zoning the forests of the Dupinga watershed in eastern Luzon's Sierra Madre Mountains. The indigenous Dumagat people classify the forest as "rich, hard-up, poor, and cold." These classifications reflect the availability of important products like rattan and foodstuffs as well as environmental stability or instability. ERD feels such classifications will assist the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to discuss ways to improve the management of the Dupinga with the Dumagat residents. If broad-based transitions to community management for public forests are to succeed, extensive changes in the ways management knowledge is collected, stored, and analyzed for decision making appear needed. Indigenous and scientific knowledge is currently fragmented by distinctions regarding basic and applied research, and by disciplinary boundaries. Scientists, forest administrators, and community forest users will need to collaborate closely in pooling their knowledge regarding ways to manage forest ecosystems both productively and sustainably.
Community map of ancestral domain, Talipanan-Ainoan watershed
In the coming year, the Yunnan team intends to publish a monograph in collaboration with the Network summarizing findings from four years of community forestry case-study research. The team is also developing a public information strategy to use television and press media to disseminate and support the province's indigenous forest management traditions and emerging programs. Producing a series of short films for local television based on the sustainable forest management systems of important ethnic minority groups in different parts of Yunnan has been proposed.
The Network hopes to broaden its interactions with community forestry research groups in China in the coming year. A proposal has been submitted to the Ford Foundation to fund a series of exchanges between Chinese institutions and other Network members. There is particularly interest in examining community forestry strategies along river systems that cross the international borders between China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The India country team will continue to support the development of the national joint Forest Management (JIM) Program over the coming year. Regular meetings will be held by the National Advisory Committee with systematic input from the National Support Group on joint Forest Management, a coalition of NGOs involved in applied ecological, economic, and institutional studies related to community forestry and natural regeneration. The research is now ongoing in approximately twenty sites covering six Indian states. The country team will work to assist in the formation of state-level JIM support groups in states where such groups have not yet been formed. Researchers will assist forest communities in setting management goals for natural forests and designing village-based experiments with varying manipulation techniques to achieve specific production objectives. Over time, the program hopes to generate a variety of sustainable management systems for a diversity of natural forest ecosystems, designed to achieve optimal production levels for selected timber and non-timber forest products.
A group of NGOs is also engaged in gender-related research and training issues related to JIM. The country team will actively pursue and support the activities of the JIM Research Network on ecological and economic issues, institutional matters, training programs, and gender sensitivity, being coordinated by the National Support Group on JIM.
Members of the country team are also attempting to develop a historical explanation of the social and environmental forces that have shaped a growing local forest protection movement in three eastern Indian states. The Asia Forest Network intends to publish the results of these studies in late 1995. In addition, the India National Support Group is forming a special team of divisional forest officers who are designing new tools for inventorying and monitoring the spread of community forest protection groups in five states. Once perfected, it is hoped that manual GIS will be adopted by many Indian states as a cost-effective participatory planning tool to support joint forest management activities.
Finally, the India country team has agreed to host the Fifth Annual Meeting of the Asia Forest Network. The proposed site for the meeting will be in coastal Orissa, 10 kilometers south of the temple city of Puri. The Society for the Promotion of Wastelands Development and Vasundhara will act as meeting organizers, under the auspices of the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The meeting will be held the first week of March 1996. A series of field trips will be planned to allow Network members to learn more about the spread of forest protection groups in eastern Indian states.
At the Network's March 1994 meeting, the Indonesia country team identified the Middle Mahakam River basin as a strategic area for the development of community forestry management activities. A critical watershed for the rapidly developing coastal zone of East Kalimantan, much of the 2-million-hectare basin was commercially felled during the 1970s and 1980s. Aside from commercial timber activities, natural forests are under pressure from frequent fires and migrant farmers. The country team, with funding from the MacArthur
Foundation, plans to initiate a phased program that will begin with a spatial and social assessment of the area to identify high-potential sites for establishing collaborative management agreements. The Swedish government is funding an analysis of SPOT satellite images of the Middle Mahakam at a scale of 1:50,000, which should provide an excellent assessment of existing ground-level forest vegetation conditions. The team proposes to build on this and other data by working with the provincial government, universities, and NGOs, and by holding discussions with communities in the region to elicit their views on management options for logged-over forests.
In the second phase of the program, communities that have expressed an interest in participating in trial programs will begin defining the forest tracts to be managed. Questions regarding management objectives, technologies, and rights and responsibilities will be determined through an interactive dialogue. The country team will assist the participating communities in identifying cultural institutions that could work with local government and private-sector operators to establish communication linkages, dispute arbitration mechanisms, and improve processing and marketing channels. The country team will be responsible for documenting learning emerging from the program and providing it to planners and policymakers for larger application within Indonesia.
Over the past year, the Network Philippines members have helped establish a National Working Group to monitor community forest programs in ten sites throughout the country. The Philippines Working Group has met regularly to examine both field operations and the policy orientation of the Community Forestry Program. Group members have visited four sites over the past twelve months and hope to complete their assessments in the coming year. The working group has brought senior planners, NGO leaders, and researchers together and into communication with a wide range of rural communities to explore ways to improve and accelerate community forestry within the country.
In the coming year, the working group will continue site visits and community dialogues to further understanding of implementation problems of existing policies and programs at the community level. The working group will also advise on strategic options available to support community forestry and relay information to the media to explain policy to the Public. In 1995-96, the Philippine team will explore how existing policies and programs can better support local initiatives and stimulate a process of decentralizing public lands management, thereby reducing dependencies on projects.
Some changes in the Philippines research includes a shifting orientation of the Community Forestry Program to be more responsive to local needs and initiatives rather than being driven by political priorities or development financing. Working group members are considering the use of a "Pre-Community Forest Management Phase," which could acknowledge greater recognition of the process of public lands management transfers. Introduction of this phase would assist communities in discussing forest rights and responsibilities, in exploring management options both technical and institutional prior to deciding on possible technical and capital inputs, and in establishing legal formalization, which characterizes conventional social forestry projects.
It is likely the National Working Group will be expanded to create an affiliated donor agency working group. Donor agency representatives would meet regularly and visit community forestry sites to hold discussions with village-based organizations. This mechanism will allow donor agencies providing financial support for community forestry policy initiatives to obtain a greater understanding of field realities and program design requirements. Both working groups, although independent, would hold joint meetings periodically.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) sees a continuing de-emphasis of timber exploitation activities with a growing commitment to the rights of indigenous peoples. Certificates of ancestral domain will be used to enhance the legal rights of indigenous people, ensuring them control over natural resources. DENR also anticipates greater interagency collaboration and joint management agreements with NGOs to provide more effective resource protection. In the Philippines, NGOs also recognize a need to build their research and management capabilities to respond to evolving government programs. Social processes that are encouraging the spread of local resource management initiatives need to be monitored and supported, with particular reference to community forest management programs (CFMP). More detailed research is needed on pre-CFMP processes, to identify, monitor, and support catalysts and mechanisms of spread of both community protection and regeneration management strategies.
Within the Royal Forest Department (RFD) of Thailand, community forestry programs are gaining increasing attention. At RFD meetings and training programs, successful community forestry initiatives like Dong Yai and major projects like the Sam Mun Project are receiving attention as models of sustainable management. The RFD's Community Forestry Division is actively working with district foresters to encourage them to explore participatory management options. The country team is committed to continuing efforts to build public support for local forest protection and management, both through the media and through local cultural institutions.
The Thai team is examining how new forms of community subwatershed management can be spread beyond program areas in the Nam Sa region to neighboring watersheds. Technical studies of forest succession in Nam Sa will continue, but with greater participation of Karen, Hmong, and Lisu villagers in an attempt to gain insights into indigenous knowledge of regeneration and means to accelerate and increase the productivity of restored sites. These studies will provide greater understanding of the types and preferred locations of forests that communities are interested in protecting.
In Northeast Thailand, studies of forest burning in Kalasin will continue, with a new emphasis on community perceptions of its pros and cons. The research should reveal economic and ecological problems and benefits resulting from burning, as well as community beliefs regarding alternatives to annual fires.
Finally, the Thai team is invested in complementing its national community forestry inventory with spatial identification of sites where local forest protection currently exists. The RFD, like the India team, will be developing manual GIS methods. Network members will share their experiences with these tools at the next annual Network meeting in India. The Thai team plans to increase regular meetings of the Northern and Northeastern teams to develop a synthesis framework for existing research activities.
In Vietnam, the Forest Inventory and Planning Institute (FIPI) will continue its research in the Yen Chau District of the Da River watershed. FIPI and other Ministry of Forestry researchers plan to work with villagers and commune -- and district-level officials to explore how new forest privatization policies and programs may be integrated with indigenous forest and watershed management systems. A series of pilot activities will be carried out that assist minority Tai communities in reestablishing their traditional yumpa (forest keeper) systems. Under the program, indigenous systems would be legitimized and linked to emerging watershed management policies and strategies. The Vietnam country team will also continue to develop tools for documenting forest use practices of upland ethnic minority groups as well as identifying program and policy actions that could support them.
In Bavi National Park, the team will work with the Dao community and park administrators to explore institutional arrangements and activities for establishing a system of co-management. Particular emphasis will be placed on documenting and strengthening indigenous medicinal systems, including the sustainable harvesting and propagation of over two hundred species of plants found within the park.
In the coming years, the Vietnamese research team plans to build a national community forestry network program, with input from district administrators and local communities. The FIPI team will expose additional forestry staff to community forestry processes and planning tools. FIPI also plans to initiate community forestry research activities in the Northwest and the Central Highlands. This will further broaden information from a wider diversity of bio-ecological zones and major watersheds.
The annual meetings of the Asia Forest Network provide opportunities for a coalition of forestry professionals, ecological and social scientists, donors, and NGO workers to periodically share their learning regarding changes from the forest to the national policy arena. During this fourth meeting of the Network some significant shifts in Asia's public forest management sector were presented. Field reports indicate that an increasing number of forest-based communities are both experiencing and discussing problems related to deforestation. In some parts of Asia, they are also taking action to reestablish access controls and sustainable management systems.
Throughout Asia, rural people are suffering from growing shortages of forestland that they depend on for sustainable long-rotational agricultural systems. Increasing scarcities of important forest products used for agriculture, housing, nutritional supplements, medicine, and cottage industries impact directly on the welfare of low- income communities. Often of equal concern to villagers are changing hydrological conditions and altered microclimatic patterns. Deterioration of rural resources, increasing scarcity of critical products, and environmental degradation are issues of immense importance, raised at village meetings, discussed in tea shops, among family, friends, and neighbors.
Network studies find many communities are developing new strategies to stabilize their natural resources, reduce conflicts, and intensify management. Network members observe that most government and donor programs, which have the same concerns, have relied on bureaucratic institutions and projects, bypassing valuable input from local communities. This orientation appears to be changing, but a critical next step is moving beyond rhetoric to developing operational systems for linking community initiatives with governmental support programs.
Workshop participants agreed that a number of strategic actions may facilitate the transition of forest management. The discussions suggested that continued attention be given to developing inventories of local resource management initiatives and mapping their spatial distribution. Establishing feedback mechanisms linking communities and field-level staff with national policymakers and planners is important.
Many country-team representatives stressed the need to involve cultural leaders and traditional institutions to strengthen local efforts to protect forest resources. Meeting participants also concurred that mass media provide a powerful array of communication vehicles to transmit messages to the rural public regarding the emerging policy environment that supports local action. The use of an emotional appeal to the public in stressing the need for forest protection, especially when endorsed by cultural leaders, should be effective in stimulating local action.
It was also noted that academic studies have not effectively responded to the emerging information requirements of transitional forest management systems. Research agendas need to address operational problems more directly, while scientific findings need to be channeled to planners and practitioners as well as to academic colleagues. Policy decision making could also be better informed through the integration of ecological and economic information and analysis that directly considers the value of local management and natural regeneration as a cost-effective strategy for rural resource stabilization.
Network members' commitment to document and support transformations in management grows with each annual meeting. The opportunity to share learning across countries provides members with a larger picture of regional environmental pressures, illuminating common problems as well as common solutions. Network members return to their countries bringing with them the knowledge that they are not alone in their efforts to find ways to ensure healthy forests and invigorated communities.
Mr. Lu Xing, Director
Mr. M. E Ahmed, Inspector General of Forests
Mr. N. H. Mathur, Forestry Advisor
Mr. Ajav Rai, Programme Officer
Dr. N. H. Ravindranath, Senior Scientific Officer
Mr. Gilbert Braganza
Mr. Patrick Dugan, Programme & Policy Support Consultant
Mr. Romeo Acosta, Director
Dr. Delfin Ganapin, Jr., Director
Mr. Frank Hicks, Regional Director
Mr. Nguyen Huy Dung,
Mr. Vo Tri Chung,
Mr. Vu Van Dung,
Forest Inventory and Planning Institute
Mr. Vu Van Me
Mr. Gustaaf Lumiu
Mr. Martua Thomas Sirait,
Dr. lwan Tjitradjaja
Ir. Sopari S. Wangsadidjaja, Chief
Mr. Mon Duangkantee
Dr. Chatt Chamchong, Associate Professor
Dr. Wuthipol Hoamuangkaew,
Mr. Buared Prachaiyo, Head
Dr. Komon Pragtong, Director
Mr. Wisoot Yukong
Ms. Cynthia Josayma, Facilitator
Mr. Henry Gholz
Mr. Jack Ewel, Director
Mr. Alex Moad
Mr. Roger Stone, Director
Poffenberger, Mark, ed. Sustaining Southeast Asia's Forests. Berkeley: Center for Southeast Asia Studies, June 1992.
Poffenberger, Mark, and Betsy McGean, eds. Community Allies: Forest Co-Management in Thailand. Berkeley: Center for Southeast Asia Studies, August 1993.
Poffenberger, Mark, and Betsy McGean, eds. Communities and Forest Management in East Kalimantan: Pathway to Environmental Stability. Berkeley: Center for Southeast Asia Studies, August 1993.
Poffenberger, Mark, and Betsy McGean, eds. Upland Philippine Communities: Guardians of the Final Forest Frontier. Berkeley: Center for Southeast Asia Studies, August 1993.
Poffenberger, Mark, and Betsy McGean, eds. Policy Dialogue on Natural Forest Regeneration and Community Management: Workshop Proceedings. Honolulu: East-West Center Program on Environment, April 1994.
Poffenberger, Mark, Betsy McGean, N. H. Ravindranath, and Madhav Gadgil, eds.
Field Methods Manual, Vol. I. Diagnostic Tools for Supporting Joint Forest Management Systems. New Delhi: Society for the Promotion of Wastelands Development, 1992.
Poffenberger, Mark, Betsy McGean, Arvind Khare, and Jeff Campbell, eds.
Field Methods Manual, Vol. II. Community Forest Economy and Use Patterns: Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) Methods in South Gujarat, India. New Delhi: Society for the Promotion of Wastelands Development, 1992.
Poffenberger, Mark, and Betsy McGean, eds.
Village Voices, Forest Choices: Indian Experiences in joint Forest Management. New Delhi: Oxford Press, forthcoming September 1995.
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