The aim of this research was to explore the links between new systems of management of common pool resources, linked to the introduction of Community Forestry in the Terai, and the existing social and political relations around natural resource use in selected sites in the Terai in order to understand how these new systems were affecting resource access for different social groups. The research focused on collecting information on the livelihoods of different social groups and their access to forests and forest products. The research sought to detail the ways in which institutional structures and relationships among users, and with Department of Forest staff, influence the ways in which forest resources are managed and exploited and benefits shared. The research highlights the pivotal contrasts between the Terai and the hills and the importance of understanding the precise implications of these contrasts for establishing effective and equitable Forest User Groups in the Terai.
While recognising the small scale of this research, the intention was to contribute to the work of programmes and projects, such as the Livelihood Forestry Project (DFIDNepal), that seek to develop more effective approaches for the livelihood enhancement of poor women and men.
The report concludes that community forest practice will have to move beyond the limited definition of `user' that dominates current practice to a much wider recognition of people's rights as managers, and the giving of custodial authority of forest land. This is something that is unlikely to be possible under the current institutional arrangements.
Seeley, J. 2003. Social structure, livelihoods and the management of common pool resources in Nepal. Scientific report. Annex A of the Final Technical Report for project R7975. Norwich, UK: Overseas Development Group, University of East Anglia. 281 pp.