Research on community-based forest management indicates its conservation outcomes depend on local rule enforcement, extraction pressures, and community support. However, many community-based forest management projects, particularly in the Global South, also involve collaborative networks of non-state actors such as NGOs and private corporations. Many of these networks promote sustainability certification under programs like the Forest Stewardship Council. We report on analyses of longitudinal forest cover data constructed using satellite observations alongside inter-organizational collaborative governance network data constructed from archival sources, document analysis, and oral histories to assess how collaborative governance networks shape community-based forestry’s conservation effectiveness in eight villages in Kilwa District, Tanzania. Our findings indicate certified community-based forestry’s impacts on deforestation can depend on the composition and structure of collaborative governance networks. Using matched Cox proportional hazards models with geographic fixed effects, we find evidence that certified community-based forest management can stem forest loss as effectively as state-led forest management (in the form of National Forest Reserves). However, the characteristics of collaborative governance networks connecting organizations engaged in forest management in our study villages shape both which areas are selected into certified community-based forest management and villages’ overall deforestation rates. Specifically, we find that the more each village government’s organizational partners are connected to one another through bonding ties, and the more civil society organizations collaborate with each village government through bridging ties, the lower the village’s deforestation risk. More private sector organizations connected to village governments through bridging ties, however, are associated with higher deforestation risks. Our evidence highlights the importance of investments in inter-organizational networks for promoting sustainably certified community-based forest conservation.
Bibliographical notePublished online: 21 August 2023
- Community forest management
- Social networks
- Collaborative environmental governance