PENEWS 2009-1 (May): Putting PEN to Paper
- PEN Updates
- 5th PEN workshop: Putting PEN to Paper (and some emerging results)
- PEN lesson: data management takes time!
- PEN publications
- PEN projects: Jamie Cotta (Brazil): Small purple fruits (Açaí) transforming landscapes; and Ajith Chandran & Monika Singh (India): Indigenous communities vs. field bureaucrats
- PENroach dispatch 3: The PENroach attends a host of Ivy league universities
Scientist Monica Fisher left CIFOR and PEN on April 30th. She takes up a new position at CIFOR’s sister organization IFPRI in Malawi. We wish to thank her for the contribution to PEN work during her (too) short stay at CIFOR. A replacement for her is being sought.
As a result of Monica’s departure, six hands belonging to PEN partners will work part time on PEN: Miriam Wyman will work on narratives, Nick Hogarth on data management and information, and Pam Jagger on data management (missing data).
Data submission: 29 datasets have been now been submitted, 17 have, or will soon be approved. The rest are undergoing checking.
CIFOR, in cooperation with the University of Copenhagen, will arrange a PEN side event to present six case studies during the World Forestry Congress (WFC) in Buenos Aires, October 2009.
PEN partner Pam Jagger successfully defended her thesis on May 12th at Indiana University, USA. She will take up a position as Assistant Professor, Department of Public Policy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
More than 40 PEN partners and resource persons gathered from the 23rd -28th of March 2009 at the CIFOR headquarters in Bogor, Indonesia for the 5th PEN workshop. The title of the workshop – Putting PEN to Paper – reflects the current stage of the PEN project. Data collection is complete and the task ahead is to clean and analyze the data, see what stories emerge from the results and to publish the stories in journal articles, book chapters and PhD theses.
A large part of the workshop was spent on presentations of results from individual PEN studies (see links at the end), which were well-received by fellow researchers. "This was arguably the most exciting workshop to date,” said Nick Hogarth, who did his fieldwork in southern China. “For the first time in the project history, much of the partners’ data has been cleaned and analyzed. Therefore, there was some insight into the shape of the global results to come. Everyone was engaged and contributing and there was a general buzz and feeling of excitement."
Read the full report from the workshop and the presentations here: http://www.cifor.org/pen/_ref/news/bogor-workshop.htm
The managers of the global PEN data set and many PEN partners are in the midst of a period of data checking, cleaning, gap filling, modifications, aggregation – in short: data management. We are learning what many other projects have experienced before: the amount of work involved in data management – to move from the raw questionnaire data to a ‘ready-to-analyze’ data set – is grossly underestimated. Although PEN put aside substantial resources for this effort – based on earlier experience and good advice – one can only predict the ‘known unknowns’ and not the ‘unknown unknowns’.
Most of the central PEN work over the next several months will focus on getting a high quality and ‘ready-to-analyze’ PEN global data set. The work will proceed in several steps:
- An initial checking of submitted datasets for completeness and internal consistency.
- A checking of “does this make (economic) sense?”, including looking at extreme values and the subsistence pricing methods used.
- Calculating and estimating missing values, including cases where households missed one of the quarterly surveys (these are still included in the global data set).
- Aggregation and creation of additional variables, e.g. household adult equivalents for inter-household welfare comparison.
And the lesson: plan carefully for the data management process. Then multiply the estimated time use by 2.
Jagger, P. 2009. Forest Sector Reform, Livelihoods and Sustainability in Western Uganda. In Governing Africa’s Forests in a Globalized World, L. German, A. Karsenty and A.M. Tiani eds. London, UK: Earthscan Publications Ltd. and Center for International Forestry Research. Forthcoming.
Jagger, P. 2008. Forest Incomes after Uganda’s Forest Sector Reform: Are the Poor Gaining? CAPRi (CGIAR System Wide Program on Collective Action and Property Rights) Working Paper Series No 92. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute. http://www.capri.cgiar.org/pdf/capriwp92.pdf
Rahman, S. A., De Groot, W., and Snelder, D.J. 2008. ‘Exploring the Agroforestry Adoption Gap: Financial and Socioeconomics of Litchi-Based Agroforestry by Smallholders in Rajshahi (Bangladesh)’, in D. J. Snelder, and R.D. Lasco (eds.), Smallholder Tree Growing for Rural Development and Environmental Services: Lessons from Asia. Springer, the Netherlands. pp. 227-244.
Tieguhong, J.C. and Zwolinski, J. 2008a. Unrevealed economic benefits from forests in Cameroon. In L. Zadnik-Stirn (ed.): International IUFRO Symposium on ‘Emerging needs of society from forest ecosystems: towards the opportunities and dilemmas in forest managerial economics and accounting’. University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia. pp. 143-150.
Tieguhong J.C. and Zwolinski J. 2008b. Economic sustainability of national parks in the Congo Basin. A case study of the Sangha Tri-National Park. In L. Zadnik-Stirn (ed.): International IUFRO Symposium on ‘Emerging needs of society from forest ecosystems: towards the opportunities and dilemmas in forest managerial economics and accounting’. University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Pp. 132-142.
PROJECT I: Jamie Cotta (Brazil): Small purple fruits (Açaí) transforming landscapes
|Açaí harvest in the floodplain forests of Pará, Brazil|
This PEN-RAVA study was conducted in 2008 in the seasonally flooded forests (várzea) of the Eastern Brazilian Amazon in the state of Pará. It examines the relationship between smallholder livelihoods and forest resource use, with a focus on the importance of two palm species (Euterpe oleracea and Mauritia flexuosa in the Abaetetuba and Limoeiro do Ajurú municipalities. Research results will complement contemporaneous CIFOR research related to the importance of buriti palm oil in the region.
The study area, largely inundated, is bathed by a diversity of rivers and tributaries and contains various fluvial islands. The population is composed of smallholder agriculturalists, agro-extractorsand fisher folk. Many are of African descent. The regional economy has historically been characterized by a cycle of boom and bust. Exploitation of várzea resources and agricultural products including rubber, cassava, forest fruits, game, fish, timber, firewood, and sugar cane has therefore been erratic. Since the 19th century agriculture has been important both for subsistence farmers and commercially. In the 1980s riverside dwellers began to plant açaí for fruit and palm hearts. oday the region’s production is dominated by açaí, agricultural products, and charcoal.
Preliminary results were obtained from interviews with community focus groups and 141 households representing a diversity livelihoods. They reveal tha for a growing number of families açaí fruit constitutes the primary source of income and is a heavily consumed dietary staple. , The buriti palm iss another major resource for smallholder subsistence and income. This is due to its versatility (the fruits, trunk, and leaves serve for a variety of purposes, including pulp for consumption, household and structural uses, and handicrafts) and the availability of fruit during the açaí off-season. Despite this fact, buriti-based production has become less lucrative in recent years and little priority has been given to its sustainable management in the Eastern Brazilian Amazon. Meanwhile, market forces, coupled with government incentives have favored the creation of açaí-dominated forest.,This has lead to to a uniform and, thus, economically and environmentally vulnerable production system. These early findings suggest a need for policy shifts favoring greater diversification of smallholder production systems in forest areas. Greater investment in resources and technical assistance should be used to to promote diversification and the use of other forest products.
PEN PROJECT II: Ajith Chandran & Monika Singh (India): indigenous communities vs. field bureaucrats
The project area is in the State of Gujarat in the western part of India. We chose six villages in the southern tribal region of Gujarat. The Joint Forest Management program by the Forest Department started in this region in the early 1990s. We had previously conducted two year’s research in the same area and with the same villages on Joint Forest Agreements in the mid 1990s, and have kept in touch with the communities since then. Field experiences and previous research suggest that outcomes of forest management strategies are heavily influenced by the extent of interaction between indigenous communities and field bureaucrats. Most indigenous communities are poor and look at forests as a livelihood resource. Field bureaucrats on the other hand focus on forest management, and following government policies limit access and tenure rights of the indigenous community.
This research looks at the effect of forest policies and its effects on the livelihoods of indigenous communities. It studies the extent to which current forest management practices have been able to incorporate aspirations of indigenous communities and alleviate poverty. It looks at existing mechanisms of interactions and the effect of current communication strategies adopted by government to understand community values and perceptions of sustainable forest management.
In the early phase of this research we conducted intensive training of over 15 enumerators in two batches. All the enumerators were women who lived in the same research villages. They were well versed in the local script and dialect. We translated the English version to Gujarati, the local language. We also recruited a coordinator who could help in administering the research. Later we also took help from a local NGO staff for the coordination.
Initially we had recruited two to three enumerators per village so that the dates of the interviews would be as close to each other as possible, and to account for enumerator attrition. So whilst initially we had a high number of people interested at the time of the training, the time commitment and low flexibility in the timing of interviews led to a high drop-out rate. In the end, we had one enumerator in each of four villages and two enumerators in two villages. Thankfully, there have been no further drop-outs, but the timing of conducting the surveys for one quarter did get delayed by almost a month.
The positive part of having enumerators from the same villages is that a few people from the village have got trained in data collection and there has been transfer of a skill to the community. Our surveys also provided some part time employment leading to the possibility that they may be recruited by others if future surveys are undertaken. We kept in mind that the women who are enumerators are married into the village, so they will continue to stay for some time to come. The enumerators, since they belong to the village are able to have a better understanding about the responses, and can question further if they suspect the validity of the information. It has an advantage for us, too, to undertake other research in future years, while keeping in touch with people and communities we are close to.
Now regular folks like the PENroach can attend best universities all in the comfort of their small and stuffy internet café’s. How is that? The open source movement has spread into the lecture theaters, today some of the world’s top scholars are making their lectures freely available online.
The PENroach recently chanced on an 18 hour video course from econometric heavy weights Wooldridge and Imbens. The course titled what’s new in econometrics ( http://www.nber.org/minicourse3.html ) is a must see for anyone interested in the subject. For a broader range of topics, two popular sites are http://academicearth.org/ and http://www.ted.com/index.php (which is not strictly academic).
How does all this work and, what are the incentives for Universities and Professors to make this material available? Time magazine has a piece that tries to explain the incentives http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1891740,00.html
Incentives aside, there is a wealth of material freely available. Unfortunately, those most in need of these freebies are also the ones handicapped by lack of internet access or, if available it is slow and very costly. Nonetheless, if one has good internet access, these sites are definitely worth many visits.
Arild Angelsen, PEN coordinator
Ronnie Babigumira, PEN Research Fellow