The Quest for Cross-Scale Participation in Community Forestry: Mobilizing for Forest Council Federation in Uttarakhand, India (12773)
The importance of community participation in local environmental governance has continued to rise, with many community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) institutions created around the world. Despite the increasing concern with cross-scale dynamics there are few studies on efforts to integrate local actors into decision-making processes at higher jurisdictional scales. I focus on community forestry in the Himalayan state of Uttarkahand, India. Following recent reforms of the local forest councils, there are now simultaneous attempts by differently situated actors to create a federation or union of forest council leaders. In this article I frame this as a quest for a new space for cross-scale participation. Drawing on analytical tools from social movement theory I take a comparative look at three competing and somewhat overlapping ‘emergent federations’ who are mobilizing to fill this space. Further, I consider how different state and non-state actors attempt to control and influence this space and what this means for representation, legitimacy and cooptation, drawing on the heuristic conceptual dichotomy of invited and popular participative space as suggested by Cornwall (2004)1 . It is found that although the restrictive invited space opened by the state can be seen as an attempt to coopt the political energies of grassroots opponents, this may paradoxically provide the arena needed for local actors to mobilize to pursue their own political goals. In addition, despite an element of competition, I would contend that it is the combined networking and awareness raising activities of all actors which keeps the quest for a more democratic cross-scale participation space in focus.
- Cornwall, A. (2004) 'Introduction: New Democratic Spaces? The Politics and Dynamics of Institutionalised Participation', IDS Bulletin, 35.2: 1-10.