Where and how can participatory forest management succeed? Learning from Tanzania, Mozambique, and Laos
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This article deals with participatory forest management (PFM) in Tanzania, Mozambique, and Laos, focusing on the degree to which the legislation supports local communities' security of rights to the forest resources and access to resource benefits, as well as the degree to which the legislation is implemented. The findings are that local communities' security of rights and access to benefits differ markedly among the three countries, whereas there is a striking similarity in the absence of efforts to implement PFM, in particular in areas with valuable timber resources. The underlying reasons for the differences are poor institutional setups and conflicting economic interests at various levels. We argue that the approach to support PFM should acknowledge differences between countries and areas, and that, under all conditions, assistance to communities in building advocacy organizations that can assert their legal rights and demand commitment of national governments is a fundamental prerequisite for success.