High value forests, hidden economies and elite capture: Evidence from forest user groups in Nepal's Terai

Vegard Iversen, Birka Chhetry, Paul Francis, Madhu Gurung, Ghanendra Kafle, Adam Pain, Janet Seeley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper argues that the policy on decentralised forest management in Nepal, informed by experiences from the Middle Hills, overlooks the complexity and conflictual potential of establishing effective and equitable user groups in the Terai. Our case study evidence from West-Central Terai suggests that the combination of high forest value and weak institutional control mechanisms create opportunities for local elites to siphon off substantial shares of the benefits generated by valuable local forests. The rents created by autonomous FUG policies give rise to stark distributional biases, a scramble for control and institutional instability. We estimate the extent of elite capture and argue that institutional reform needs are intimately linked to controlling what we call the hidden economy of forest user groups. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-107
Number of pages14
JournalEcological Economics
Volume58
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2006

Keywords

  • Benefit distribution
  • Community forestry
  • Elite capture
  • Hidden economy
  • Nepal

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