, Volume 41, Issue 5, pp 707-718
Date: 21 Feb 2008

Politics of Co-Optation: Community Forest Management Versus Joint Forest Management in Orissa, India

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The article considers the impact of introducing government co-management policy in the form of Joint Forest Management (JFM) in an area with a five-decade-old self-organized community forest management system in Orissa, India. We ask a question that appears not to have been previously examined: What happens when JFM replaces an already existing community forest management arrangement? Our comparison of the JFM arrangement with the self-organized community forest management regime (pre- and post-2002 in a selected village) provides three conclusions: (1) The level of villager participation in forest management has declined, along with the erosion of the bundle of common rights held by them; (2) multiple institutional linkages between the village and outside agencies, and reciprocal relations with neighboring villages have been abandoned in favor of a close relationship with the Forestry Department; and (3) the administration of the forestry resource has become politicized. We conclude that the “one-size-fits-all” approach of the JFM, with its pre-packaged objectives and its narrow scope of forest management, is likely to limit experimentation, learning, and institutional innovation that characterizes community forest management.