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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2005  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 509-532

Role of Monitoring in Institutional Performance: Forest Management in Maharashtra, India

1 SHODH: The Institute for Research and Development, 50 Puranik Layout, Bharat Nagar, Nagpur, 440 033, India.
2 Center for the Study of Institutions, Population, and Environmental Change (CIPEC), Indiana University, 408 N. Indiana Avenue, Bloomington, IN 47408, USA., and Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, 659 5th A Main, Hebbal, Bangalore 560 024, India

Correspondence Address:
Rucha Ghate
SHODH: The Institute for Research and Development, 50 Puranik Layout, Bharat Nagar, Nagpur, 440 033, India.

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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In this article we examine the role of 'monitoring', believed to be crucial for effective participatory common property management. While gov­erning a common pool resource such as forests, there may be conditions that tempt individuals to cheat and gain substantially higher benefits. This is dis­advantageous for other participants, and can adversely affect resource condi­tion. Monitoring includes ensuring rule compliance, dealing with infractions and guarding forest areas against outsider entry. Here we examine the impact of institutional structure on monitoring and, consequently, on the effective­ness of forest management. We examine the three most frequent approaches in India, namely community-initiated management, non-governmental organisa­tion (NGO) promoted forest management, and state-sponsored Joint Forest Management (JFM). Through a comparison of 3 case studies in the Gadchi­roli district of Maharashtra in central India, we conducted a detailed com­parison of forests that are situated in similar bioclimatic conditions and similar social environments. We assess community approaches to monitoring using detailed social interviews with communities and integrate this with an analysis of forest condition at the tree, sapling and seedling level using forest plot data. Our findings indicate that local enforcement has been most effective in the case where forest management was initiated by the community, with better regeneration, and negligible evidence of grazing and fire. Inefficient monitoring was apparent in the state-initiated JFM village, with uncontrolled grazing and fire, leading to heavy damage to the forest. In the third case, with NGO-promoted forest management, greater importance was given to protect­ing the resource from outsiders, while neglecting the overuse of forest prod­ucts by the community members.

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