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Forest governance in Chinese villages : community, the 'common interest', and common pool resources

Chia, Sing-Tingn Evelyn

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Villages collectively own more than 60 percent of China's forests, many of them in ecologically-sensitive areas. Villagers depend on communal forests for various livelihood needs and village leaders play an important role in the governance of forest resources. However, the policy context for the participation of villagers in the governance of their forests is limited, often dictated by government policy shifts, the state's interests in forests, and the state's idea of what is appropriate in...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorChia, Sing-Tingn Evelyn
dc.date.accessioned2018-11-22T00:07:34Z
dc.date.available2018-11-22T00:07:34Z
dc.date.copyright2010
dc.identifier.otherb2938436
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/151209
dc.description.abstractVillages collectively own more than 60 percent of China's forests, many of them in ecologically-sensitive areas. Villagers depend on communal forests for various livelihood needs and village leaders play an important role in the governance of forest resources. However, the policy context for the participation of villagers in the governance of their forests is limited, often dictated by government policy shifts, the state's interests in forests, and the state's idea of what is appropriate in forest practices. This study examines how local communities adapt to new resource and politicaleconomic situations, and why some are better able to adapt in'this state-led and authoritarian context. A further question is what are the prospects of community engagement in forest governance within such a context. This second question relates to the lack of state capacity at local levels to protect forests and therefore the necessity for local community participation to ameliorate the governance deficit. The study takes Elinor Ostrom's framework regarding common pool resources (CPR) as a starting point to understand how local communities create institutions to manage their CPR, and why some groups of actors are more able than others to create and adapt to a new resource and political-economic situation. Ostrom and others argue that the degree to which a group is able to overcome CPR collective action problems depends on the degree of 'community' within the group. However, I argue that the 'community' and the objects of collective action relating to a CPR situation, the 'common interest', are socially constructed, and in this light I examine how certain CPR sitnations are framed to justify forest protection in the name of self- or collective interests. Two comparative case studies examine the responses of two villages in the 1980s when there was a sudden surge in timber demand. I examine why one village successfully protected its forests while the other experienced rampant deforestation. The third case study examines the period after 1998 when the central government instituted a logging ban in response to disastrous floods in the Yangtze River and imposed this ban on local communities previously reliant on logging for a living. In all three cases, I found that how villagers participated in forest governance depended on the nature of ties between state and villagers, or between village leader and villagers. These ties affect the extent to which state or community leaders can construct a 'common interest' which is perceived as legitimate by the people whose attitudes they seek to shape. The dissertation uses a broader notion of legitimacy than that of Ostrom's CPR framework drawing on ideas of 'moral economy', reciprocity, and culturally-specific forms oflegitimacy. I argue that a culturally-specific idea oflegitimacy is important in a state-led and power-laden context like China where the state has consistently tried to shape local community's interests in line with state interests. I propose also the use of the notion of legitimacy to draw on insights from the village governance literature on China to inform analyses of CPR governance.
dc.format.extentxii, 234 leaves.
dc.language.isoen_AU
dc.rightsAuthor retains copyright
dc.subject.lccSD643.C55 2010
dc.subject.lcshCommunity forestry China
dc.subject.lcshForest management China
dc.subject.lcshEnvironmental protection Citizen participation.
dc.titleForest governance in Chinese villages : community, the 'common interest', and common pool resources
dc.typeThesis (PhD)
local.description.notesThesis (Ph.D.)--Australian National University
dc.date.issued2010
local.type.statusAccepted Version
local.contributor.affiliationAustralian National University.
local.identifier.doi10.25911/5d5154887de0f
dc.date.updated2018-11-21T08:08:58Z
dcterms.accessRightsOpen Access
local.mintdoimint
CollectionsOpen Access Theses

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