Rural social movements and forest governance: assistance to grassroots organizations to promote conservation and development in Latin America

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This paper describes the Grassroots Assistance Project's approach to research and strengthening of community analysis and management capacities. It summarizes context studies of four grassroots forest organization in Central America and Brazil, focusing on the conditions shaping their emergence, the roles of the state and external technical assistance, and impacts on conservation and development. It briefly discusses the results of innovative community self-studies in Guatemala and Nicaragua. It then turns to an alternative model of technical 'accompaniment' emerging from the communities' own experiences that may more effectively help build community capacity to manage forests for conservation and development. Grassroots forestry organizations are showing that conservation and development need not be opposing strategies. Rather than being part of the deforestation problem, organized forest communities can potentially be key allies in the protection and management of the environment for the future

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