Putting the community back into community forestry: The enchantment of collective action for timber production in Latin America

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David Barton Bray …

David Barton Bray
Florida International University

Presentation for the conference on
Taking stock of smallholders and community forestry
Montpellier France
March 24-26, 2010

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  • 1. Putting the Community Back into Community Forestry: The Enchantment of Collective Action for Timber Production in Latin America
    David Barton Bray
    Florida International University
    “Taking Stock of smallholder and community forestry”
    Montpellier, France
    March 24-26, 2010
  • 2. The Uncertain Promise of Community Forestry
    • Devolution of rights to forest resources an uneven and in many cases disappointing process.
    • 3. Most rights are for NTFPs, seldom more than safety net for the poor; or when more valuable, poor shut out of common pool resources.
    • 4. Best forest poverty alleviation mechanism may be urban migration (Levang).
    • 5. Payment for environmental services, the new NTFP, complicated and unpromising for poverty alleviation
  • And even doubts about community timber production
    “natural forests lack comparative advantage for poverty alleviation”…if timber rents could be distributed even a minor amount poverty alleviation could be significant” (Wunder, 2001)
    Little potential in timber due to “weak and slow-moving institutions, rent capture by local elites”…….etc etc timber not one of the “win-win” situations. (Sunderlin et al. 2005)
    Mexican community forest enterprises “incipient in terms of business development” (my translation) (Sabogal et al. 2008)
  • 6. Putting community back into community forestry, and organization back into institutional analysis
    “community” disenchanted and deconstructed by Agrawal and Gibson (1999; 838 Google scholar cites) into “multiplicity of actors and interests” “a set of internal and external institutions”
    But a community as “a spatial unit, a social structure, and set of shared norms” does exist.
    A community is not just a “user group” or a “group of principals”
  • 7. Timber Production: It takes a community
    With the incentive for collective action of a valuable natural resource, some traditional and indigenous communities with rich social capital and organizational structures build upon and expand their ability to engage in community collective action.
    Communities have “high entry and exit costs…effective multilateral enforcement of group norms…to overcome free rider problems…properties allowing them to persist in world of market exchanges and modern states…..” (Bowles and Gintis, 1998, 2002)
  • 8. Institutions: It takes an organization
    It’s not just institutions: “It is the interaction between institutions and organizations that shapes the institutional evolution of an economy. If institutions are the rules of the game, organizations and their entrepreneurs are the players.” (North, 1990)
    Organizations come into existence within particular institutional constraints, but organizations become the major agents of institutional change. (North, 1993).
    In Mexico, traditional and indigenous communites were endowed with a template for their governance structures, with both rules and a specific organizational form
  • 9. Mexican Common Property System
    Legislated into existence (McKean and Ostrom, 1995).
    Has neither “endured” nor “emerged” (Arnold, 1998), but on-going reality for most of 20th century.
    A form of co-management, through forest use regulation, but with a privately held communal property.
    “Second stage” of common property regimes: “a systematic focus on stakeholders in a common property resource responding go larger market opportunities as an alternative source of benefits provided by the common property asset” (Antinori, 2000). i.e. community forest enterprises (CFEs).
  • 10. How Did the Sector Emerge?
    Mexican Agrarian Reform and the Redistribution of Natural Assets from the State and Private Sectors to Communities
    El Balcon, Guerrero: 1966-2,400 ha, 1974-19,150 ha, 1986-4,015
    1971-in Chihuahua break-up of 261,000 ha private forest holding-distributed to communities.
    1940-18% of all forest lands
    1950-23% of all forest lands
    1980-65-80% of all forest lands
  • 11.
  • 12. Table 1: Typology of CFEs by Collective Action Vertical Integration in Mexico
  • 13. 1993-2002 2,300 communities with logging permits in Mexico (CFEs)
  • 14. Trends in Vertical Integration
  • 15. Level of Integration by Total Community Area, Total Forest Size and Logging Area in Ten Most Important Forest States-Mexico
  • 16. Organizational Structure of Level II CFE
  • 17. Organizational Structure of a Level IV CFE (the emergence of “supercommunity” forest enterprises
  • 18. A Small Percentage of Mexican CFEs have accumulated substantial fixed assets in the CFE and have become internationally competitive timber businesses “supercommunity” forest enteprises
    El Balcon, Guerrero: 4.2 million dollars in fixed capital assets
  • 19. Organizational Structure of a Dissolved CFE (Timber rights informally parcelized among “work groups”
  • 20. Community Forest Enterprises: Extending the Theory of the Firm (not an intermediate form)
  • 21. Why did it Happen in Mexico?
    • A market culture
    • 22. Strong existing form of community governance, institutions and organizations.
    • 23. Clearly defined property rights to timber (but took historical struggle to achieve)
    • 24. Formation of human and social capital (not “capacity-building”!)
    • 25. Multi-scale governance, involvement of government and NGOs
  • 26. Closing Thoughts I
    When you have an existing community (i.e. Bowles and Gintis) with a strong form of organization, with secure access to timber and human and social capital training with a supportive policy environment astounding things can happen.
    The collective action around timber then creates a stronger community.
    “in a complex process of social reingeneering a new social order has been constructed” Claudio Garibay
  • 27. Closing Thoughts II
    • “Far from being vestigial anachronisms, we think communities may become more rather than less important in the nexus of governance structures in the years to come, since communities may claim some success in addressing governance problems not amenable to state or market solution” (Bowles and Gintis, 1998:23)
    • 28. One of those governance problems is optimizing forest cover and biodiversity and human welfare in forests; community forest enterprises for commercial timber production is one of the options to do it