Biodiversity assessment for whom? Issues, perspectives and lessons from community forestry in Nepal
MetadataShow full item record
This article assesses biodiversity management as in relation to the increase in numbers and the diversity of stakeholders participating in community forestry in Nepal. Results show that despite many changes relating to inclusiveness in participation, elites still influence and control the current biodiversity management policies and practices. The main causes of this result rest on the, a) imbalance of powers between communities, b) pressures of donors, and c) locally rooted civil societies still in the early stages. The paper gives examples of whose interests in biodiversity are being forwarded and whose interests are being neglected. Women's interests are related to their reproductive and household roles which include managing fuel wood, fodder, grasses, medicinal use of plants and the collection of non-timber forest products (NTFP) for cash income. Women, the poor, and disadvantaged groups are the ones who are primarily concerned with the direct use values of biodiversity. Resource assessment remains focused on assessing the stock and increment of timber products, this being the elites' interest, ignoring the interests of the poor, women, and disadvantaged groups, who are more concerned with non-timber components of biodiversity. The paper suggests strategies to improve policy. These are a) increasing the voices of the women, poor, and disadvantaged groups within communities, b) improving communication and negotiation at all levels, c) recognizing local knowledge and cultural context, and d) ensuring equitable distribution of costs and benefits of biodiversity assessment.