Improving the outcomes of community forestry interventions by better understanding local socio-ecological context: Insights from theory and practice

Designers of REDD+ and PES programs intended to help forest-dependent communities improve management of their forests often fail to adequately understand the socio-ecological contexts into which interventions are introduced. Moreover, they fail to acknowledge that communities know what they are doing, and instead rely on assumptions about the kinds of external assistance communities need to better manage their forests. What’s overlooked is the fact that many communities are effective stewards of their forests; skilled at managing complex socio-ecological systems and motivated by an understanding that the well-being of community and local ecology are inexorably linked. Applying realist synthesis methodology, the presentation considers approaches to understanding local socio-ecological context as a starting point to designing interventions that strengthen community stewardship of forests and improve the chances that programs designed to improve social and forest outcomes will succeed.

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