Too Hot To Handle?  Insight on Human-Forest Conflict Management

Native forest reserve in Australia. In the past, these areas were used for timber production; now they're managed for conservation.
Native forest reserve in Australia. In the past, these areas were used for timber production; now they’re managed for conservation.

A-16: Ethics and Values in Relation to Forest, Wildlife and Recreation Management


The forest is under increasing pressure to supply goods and services to various categories of stakeholders. The concept of multiple land use, where forest is managed for multiple purposes, is designed to handle this pressure, but more often than not, national forest management interests conflict with those of rural people in terms of forest management.

Research studies are often carried out to determine how to manage such conflicts. One challenge is that most of the research carried out on engaging rural communities in forest management is case-based, often examining only a single process or model when in reality most rural people are engaged in multiple uses of forest.

Designing collaborative approaches to accommodate national interests as well as the multiple interests of rural people so as to effectively manage conflicts in forest management is a necessity, particularly for representing the interests of forestry stakeholders. This session explored approaches for handling human-wildlife relations as well as conflicts arising in forest, wildlife and recreation management.

Katarina Eckerberg presented case studies on an approach used in Sweden and Australia to effectively promote public participation and manage conflicting interests in forest management objectives such as forest regeneration, assisted hunting, land fertilizing, and fuel load reduction.

Rebecca Ford reported on the successful application of the “psychological approach model” in Australia to improve social values that people attach to forestry. In the same vein, Biljana Macura described two integrated approaches used in India to improve the participation of rural people in accruing benefit from forest conservation initiatives around the central Indian tiger reserve.

Although such initiatives, often termed “ joint forest management” or “eco-development initiatives” have varying degrees of tradeoffs, they have nevertheless helped in managing rural conflicts in forest management.

Session presentations showed that rural conflicts in forest management are not really “too hot to handle.”  However, for a thorough understanding of the interests of rural people in forest management in any specific case, investigations must not focus on a single process. It’s important to understand the multiple interests people have in forest management and how they fit into a broader strategy of action.

Written by: Chidi Ofoegbu

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