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Forests and Floodplains

Impacts of Community Management of Forests and Floodplains (Evidence and Impact Research Grant)

Community management of forests and floodplains has spread rapidly as a means of empowering the poor, maintaining natural resources and delivering equitable benefits. However, evidence for positive interactions between poverty reduction and restored or sustained ecosystems is limited. This study will assess changes in the distribution of benefits and ecosystem services generated from wetlands in Bangladesh and forests in Nepal. It will focus on collating dispersed evidence to examine the intertwined effects of community management on a) livelihoods of poor people dependent on these systems, and b) key indicators of ecosystems sustainability.

Published and grey literature will be systematically reviewed, and a comparative analysis made of data sets held by the partner organisations/researchers generated over 15 years. Data will be disaggregated within the two ecosystems, and comparative analysis will be made according to key factors including resource tenure, membership or representational community based organisations (CBOs), and the role of networking and learning (horizontal and vertical) among CBOs. Nationally accepted indicators of poverty will be used to segregate the effects on livelihoods. The research will draw lessons on institutional arrangements that can be taken up more widely to enable ecosystems to deliver services to the poor in a sustainable way.

The institutional aspects of particular significance are networks or federations of local citizen groups that are increasingly developing to improve coordination, learning and interaction with government. In both countries there are vibrant networks among community organisations and initiatives (in Nepal focused on forests and in Bangladesh focused on floodplains and water bodies, in each case facilitated by the respective project partner). These networks emphasise the importance of common pool resources and collective action for the rural livelihoods of poor people and the ecosystems they depend on, and the scope for networking to enhance resource management, lesson learning, and influence on policy. This research aims to synthesise dispersed evidence, bridge gaps and build on these opportunities. It will address the gap in scientific knowledge on the pro-poor impacts of innovations and adaptations in natural resource management in two of the most important ecosystems in Asia that are moreover vulnerable to climate change. The case studies will involve those innovators and affected people, and will nationally enhance links of community networks with researchers and with those who set the policy and institutional framework.

This research project builds on our research since 2006 in Bangladesh and establishes a new link with Forest Action Nepal which will undertake case studies in Nepal.

Funder:

Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (a programme supported by NERC, ESRC and DFID)

Duration:

2012 – 2013

FHRC Project Manager: 

Parvin Sultana

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