Partnerships for Sustainable Forest Management: Lessons from the Ecuadorian Choco

Date: Jun, 2004
ODID Working Paper No. 118
Author(s): Laura Rival (ODID)

This paper analyses comparatively the development of two coalitions for the sustainable forest management of remaining portions of the Ecuadorian Chocó owned by indigenous communities. One coalition, a network of environmental NGOs, promotes the co-operative commercialisation of community timber and puts pressure on timber merchants to raise the price they pay to producers. The other comprises a large forestry and wood-processing group which has joint ventures with a number of indigenous communities, and which is now seeking green certification for its logging operations. Both coalitions operate locally by promoting and implementing community forestry projects, and nationally by participating in the elaboration of Ecuador's new forest law.

Various activities promoted by the two coalitions are compared: land titling; local-level conservation; the building of new community institutions; local-level social development; attempts to reform wood markets; and policy reform at the national level. The paper attempts to explain why both coalitions have tended to stereotype traditional Chocoan forest dwellers according to fixed ethnic categories, while overlooking their basic economic needs, values and development aspirations. Local communities have benefited from these partnerships in terms of land titling and training, but have not seen improvements in what they value most, the adequate provision of health and education services. The paper ends with a discussion of the factors contributing to the successful building of pro-poor coalitions

ODID Author(s)