is often assumed that having a community representative in a meeting or decision-making
body concerning resource management assures that the communities' interests are
being met. The purpose of this research is to show why most community representation
in resource management processes has not been not effective. The intent is to
provide suggestions for how to improve such representation, especially as opportunities
for pluralistic input into policy making increase and the capacities of villagers
to participate in such processes are greater than ever before (with increasing
tools for communication such as maps, NGO facilitation etc). The conclusions should
prove useful for improving the selection of representatives and their functions
Three questions are posed:
are the representatives? E.g. number of people, formal or informal representative
role, what is the structure of their organization, what is their function? With
whom are they allied? Who do they represent and not represent?
are they chosen? E.g. self-appointed, appointed or through some democratic process?
by the community or outsiders?
- Why are
they effective or not effective? Criteria for effectiveness would include local
people's criteria as well as the representatives accountability, legitimacy, communication
practices (not just skills), and ability to create capacity for action or impact
(involving social capital, influence,).
each question, patterns would be identified in people's actual practices. Data
would be collected in at least 10-15 sites In the Bulungan Research Forest area,
focusing on community representation in concession dialogues (including their
development programs) or with the local national park. If it is possible to focus
on a specific issues, this would be on meeting community needs related to the
local forest. If there is interest on the part of collaborators, we could expand
such collection to other sites as well.
be given to the nature of the policy issues, size of the community and degree
of heterogeneity (and associated conflict) as contextual influences on the effectiveness
of representation. Representatives behavior might also be explained in terms of
their motivations, capacities and incentives.
would draw upon principles about representation in policy science and political
science and try to apply these to the context of forest communities and forest
resource management policies, especially in the tropics. Information might also
be available from anthropology in relation to the selection of informants (often
peripheral members of the community), or ethnic boundaries and the function of
many village representatives as "gatekeepers" of information.
study focuses on the relation between the community and the representative, recognizing
that the factors affecting the effectiveness of the representative and other parties
involved in the policy making process are equally as important and should be part
of a second sub-study. The question of representation is thus just a first step
in a chain of conditions necessary to ensure that communities have effective roles
in the policy-making process.