Conservation and development practitioners increasingly promote community forestry as a way to conserve ecosystem services, consolidate resource rights, and reduce poverty. However, outcomes of community forestry have been mixed; many initiatives failed to achieve intended objectives. There is a rich literature on institutional arrangements of community forestry, but there has been little effort to examine the role of socioeconomic, market, and biophysical factors in shaping both land‐cover change dynamics and individual and collective livelihood outcomes. We systematically reviewed the peer‐reviewed literature on community forestry to examine and quantify existing knowledge gaps in the community‐forestry literature relative to these factors. In examining 697 cases of community forest management (CFM), extracted from 267 peer‐reviewed publications, we found 3 key trends that limit understanding of community forestry. First, we found substantial data gaps linking population dynamics, market forces, and biophysical characteristics to both environmental and livelihood outcomes. Second, most studies focused on environmental outcomes, and the majority of studies that assessed socioeconomic outcomes relied on qualitative data, making comparisons across cases difficult. Finally, there was a heavy bias toward studies on South Asian forests, indicating that the literature on community forestry may not be representative of decentralization policies and CFM globally.
- biophysical factors
- community-managed forests
- institutional arrangements
- socioeconomic characteristics
- systematic map
Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms
- Global Development Institute