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Community-Based Forestry: A Framework for Analysis
Forests are a dominant landscape feature and have played a role in meeting energy, housing, and other basic demands in nearly every culture. Despite the declining relative number of people who rely solely on forests for economic stability, dependency on forests for timber and non-timber products continues. Such dependence should empower those who live in forest-dependent communities to play a role in decision-making processes about forest uses. What should occur and what has occurred are two different things. The fact that local communities have not always had a voice in local decisions has contributed to the emergence of community-based forestry efforts to rivet attention to their lack of standing. Community-based forestry is premised on legitimizing local citizen involvement in the forest decision-making process. At its core, it challenges private-rights perspectives, traditional industrial-government interests, and environmental agendas. Citizens engaged in community-based forestry can meaningfully engage in dialogue with others internal and external to the community, who have legitimate claims and interests in decisions that affect shared resources. In this paper we address current issues affecting U.S. community-based forestry, emphasizing the community concept. Further, we provide local examples to demonstrate the community-based forestry process. While community-based forestry is not offered or seen as a panacea for community or ecological change, we suggest that careful attention to the prospect of community-based forest interaction may yield important insights for both sustainable forests and sustainable communities.
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Luloff, A. E.
Penn State Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education
Finley, J. C.
Penn State Ecosystem Science Management
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