Author : Sonam Wangchuk1*

Abstract :

In resource dependent rural areas of Bhutan, community forestry management is promoted as a viable option for poverty reduction, enhancement of local economic development

and biodiversity conservation. While there have been an impressive number of community forests established in Bhutan since the early 2000s, there are many concerns including the degree to which benefits of community forests are equitably distributed within the community forestry management groups. This paper presents the findings of a study investigating economic equity (distribution of financial benefits) and social equity (participation in decision making) from three

community forest management groups in two eastern Dzongkhags. The comparisons among socioeconomic groups (rich, middle income and poor), committee vs. regular members, and by gender on livelihood assets and utilization of the forest products (timber, firewood, fodder, leaf litter and non-wood forest products) from community forests were conducted based on information determined from household surveys. The findings suggest that the community forest members had obtained most of their forest products requirements from community forests and

inequity was insignificant amongst the different socioeconomic groups, between committee and regular members and between male and female members. However, economic equity (access to and distribution of forest products) from community forests was dependent on various household characteristics such as availability of land, livestock holdings, trees on private lands, food sufficiency, and income status of households. These factors exert a strong influence on determining the social equity and benefits from community forests. In general, economic equity and social equity were found comparatively higher than reported in neighboring countries. This may possibly be attributed to socio-cultural homogeneity, gender equality, supportive policies and rules, and appropriate resource endowment in community forests.


Key Words :

Community forests, equity, forest products, local benefits

Reference :

Adhikari, B. and J. C. Lovett. 2006. Institutions and collective action: Does heterogeneity

hinder community-based resource management? Journal of Development Studies 78(1):5̅1−5.


Agrawal, A. and E. Ostrom. 2001. Collective action, property rights, and decentralization

in resource use in India and Nepal. Politics and Society 29(4): 485−514.


Bampton, J. and B. Cammaert. 2007. How can timber rents better contribute to poverty alleviation through community forestry in the Terai region of Nepal? Pages 38−46 in R.


Oberndorf, P. Durst, S. Mahanty, K. Burslem and R. Suzuki, editors. A Cut for the Poor. Proceedings of the International Conference on Managing Forests for Poverty Reduction: Capturing Opportunities in Forest Harvesting and Wood Processing for the Benefit of the Poor. Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, FAO, RECOFTC and SNV, Bangkok, Thailand.


Buffum, B. 2007. Sustainability issues related to community management of national

forests in Bhutan. Dissertation submitted for doctorate degree at the University of Natural Resources, Vienna, Institute of Forest Ecology.


Buffum, B., A. Lawrence, and K. J. Temphel. 2010. Equity in Community forests in

Bhutan. International Forestry Review 12(3):187−199.


Buffum, B., Y. Tenzin, S. Dorji, and N. Gyeltshen. 2005. Equity and Sustainability of Community Forestry in Bhutan: analysis of three village case studies. PFMP Report 21. PFMP, SFD, DoFPS, MoAF, Thimphu, Bhutan.


Carter, J. and J. Gronow. 2005. Recent experience in collaborative forest management: a

review paper. Bogor, Indonesia, CIFOR. CIFOR Occasional Paper No. 43. 48 pp.


Enters, T., M. Sandiford, Y. Yasmi, and J. Guernier. 2009. Is there a future role for forests and forestry in reducing poverty? Pages 103−117 in R. N. Leslie, editor. Asia- Pacific Forestry Commission: The Future of Forests. Proceedings of an International Conference on the Outlook of Asia-Pacific Forests to 2020.


Food and Agricultural Organization. 2005. State of the World’s forests, Rome.


Fisher, H. M. 1989. Indigenous Systems of Common Property Forest Management in Nepal. Working Paper no. 18. East West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii.


Gautam, A. P., M. B. Karmacharya, and B. K. Karna. 2008. Community Forestry, Equity and Sustainable Livelihoods in Nepal. Nepal Forestry and Institutions. Nepal.


Gerrard, P. 2007. Report of a national-level workshop Ban Geun, Lao PDR. Pages 1−10 in S. Mahanty, K. Burslem, and E. Lee, editors: A Fair Share? Experiences in benefit sharing from community-managed resources in Asia. RECOFTC, Bangkok, Thailand.


Hobley, M. 2005. Building state-people relationships in forestry. Forest Policy and Environment Program: London: Forest Policy and Environment Program. Overseas

Development Institute, Grey Literature: 7.


Khanel, K. R. and B. R. Kandel. 2004. Community forestry in Nepal: Achievements and challenges. Journal of Forest and Livelihood 4(1):55−61.


Lawrence, A. 2007. Beyond the second generation: towards addictiveness in participatory forest management. CAB Reviews: Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition and Natural Resources 2(28):1–15.


Mahanty, S., J. Guernier, and Y. Yasmi. 2009. A fair share? Sharing the benefits and costs

of collaborative forest management. The International Forestry Review 11(2):268– 280.


Mahanty, S., M. Nurse, M. Rosander, C. Greenwood, M. Halley, and B. Vickers. 2007.

Benefit sharing in the Mekong Region – lessons and emerging areas for action. Pages 91–110 in S. Mahanty, K. Burslem, and E. Lee, editors. A Fair Share? Experiences inbenefit sharing from community-managed resources in Asia, RECOFTC, WWF and SNV, Bangkok, Thailand.


Maharjan, M. R., T. Dakal, R. Dhakal, S. K. Thapa, K. Schreckenberg, and C. Luttrell. 2009.

Improving the benefits to the poor from community forestry in the Churia region of Nepal. International Forestry Review 11(2):254–267.


Malla, Y., H. R. Neupane, and P. J. Branney. 2003. Why aren’t poor people benefiting

more from community forestry? Journal of Forest and Livelihood 3(1):78–90.


McCarthy, J. F. 2004. Changing to gray: decentralization and the emergence of volatile socio-legal configuration in central Kalimantan, Indonesia. World Development 32(7):1199–1223.


McDermott, M. H. and K. Schreckenberg. 2009. Equity in community forestry: Insights from North and South. International Forestry Review 11(2):157–170.


Namgay, K. and T. Sonam. 2006. Gender and Equity: A Challenge in Community Forestry.

In A Series of Case Studies on Community Based Forest and Natural Resource Management in Bhutan, Thimphu: Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Royal Government of Bhutan.


Nguyen, Q. T., B. N. Nguyen, N. T. Tran, W. Sunderlin, and Y. Yasmi. 2008. Forest

Tenure Reform in Viet Nam: Case Studies from the Northern Upland and Central

Highlands Regions. RECOFTC and RRI, Bangkok.


Nightingale, A. 2003. Nature-society and development: social, cultural and ecological

change in Nepal. Geoforum 34(4):525–540.


Pagdee, A., Y. Kim, and P. Daugherty. 2006. What makes community forest management successful: a meta-study from community forests throughout the world. Society and Natural Resources 19(1):33–52.


Pokharel, B. K. and M. Nurse. 2004. Forest and people’s livelihood: Benefiting the poor

from community forestry. Journal of Forest and Livelihood 4(1):19–30.


Pokharel, B. K. and D. Paudel. 2005. Impacts of armed conflicts on community forest user groups in Nepal: Can community forestry survive and contribute to peace building at local level? European Tropical Forest Research Network 43/44 (Winter 2005/2005):83–86.


Poteete, A. 2004. Is Decentralization a Reliable Means of Increasing Equity? Paper prepared for the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property (IASCAP), 9-13th August, 2004, Oaxaca, Mexico. University of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA, USA.


Regional Community Forestry Training Center for Asia and the Pacific (RECOFTC). 2007. Sharing the wealth, improving the distribution of benefits and costs from community forestry: policy and legal frameworks. Synthesis of discussions at the second community forestry forum,

Bangkok, Thailand, RECOFTC, FAO and SNV, Bangkok.


Royal Government of Bhutan. 2009. The National Plantation Strategy for Bhutan. DoFPS, MoAF, Thimphu, Bhutan Schreckenberg, G. K. and C. Luttrell. 2009. Participatory forest management: a route to poverty reduction? International Forestry Review 11(2): 221–238.


Schreckenberg, K. 2010. Equity in Community Forestry: How do the Poor Benefit. Oxford

Centre for Tropical Forests Seminar Series, Division for Environmental Sciences, University of Southampton, United Kingdom with Melanie McDermott, Rutgers University, Rutgers University, USA.


Social Forestry and Extension Division (SFED). 2010. National Strategy for Community Forestry-The Way Ahead. DoFPS, MoAF, RGoB, Thimphu, Bhutan.


Temphel, K. J and H. Beukeboom. 2006a. Proceedings of the International Conference

on Managing Forests for Poverty Reduction in Robert Oberndorf, Patrick Durst, Sango Mahanty, Kenneth Burslem and Regan Suzuki, editors. Capturing Opportunities in Forest Harvesting and Wood Processing for the Benefit of the Poor, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam. FAO RAP publication 2007/09 and RECOFTC Report No. 19. FAO and RECOFTC, Bangkok.


Temphel, K. J and H. Beukeboom. 2006b. Community Forestry Contributes to the National and Millennium Development Goals Without Compromising the Forest Policy. A Series of Case Studies on Community-Based Forest and Natural Resource Management in Bhutan. SFD,

MoAF, RGoB, Thimphu, Bhutan.


Tshering, P. C. 1993. Gender Issues in Agricultural Policy in Bhutan in Gender

issues in Agricultural and Rural Development Policy in Asia and the Pacific. Regional Expert Consultation on Gender Issues in Agricultural Policy, Bangkok, Thailand, FAO, RAPA publication 1995/2.


Wily, L. A. 2002. Participatory forest management in Africa: An overview of progress and issues. Second International Workshop on Participatory Forestry in Africa: Defining The Way Forward: Sustainable Livelihoods and Sustainable Forest Management Through Participatory

Forestry, Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania.


Yamane, T. 1967. Statistics. An Introductory Analysis, 2nd Ed, New York: Harper Collins

Publishers Inc. UK.

News & Events

“Fruits for all” Initiative Implemented in Wangdue

The Bhutan Ecological Society (BES) supported 26 schools and the Technical...

Read More

A group of Program Advisers from various US universities visited Bhutan

A group of 14 student study abroad Program Advisers from the...

Read More

Second BLISS Lecture Series Hosted in Thimphu

The Second Bhutan Lectures on Innovation, Science & Society (BLISS) Talks...

Read More