The Significance of Social Capital in Local Forest Management in Laos: Overcoming Latent Conflict between Local People and Local Forestry Officials

International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology所収
Volume (Issue): 13(1)

Forest policies that devolve forest-use rights to local people have undergone development over the past few years in Laos. As collaboration between local people and forestry officials is seen as indispensable to effective and sustainable local forest management, the objective of this study is to clarify the issues pertinent to the resolution of latent conflict between these two stakeholders. The issues are examined by presenting two case studies in terms of forest management as perceived by local people and forestry officials; the first in a rich forest area and the second in a degraded forest. Issues relating to land and borders and social capital are identified as the most important in the degraded forest area, while social capital is a very important issue in the rich forest area. Our studies show that the problems of land and border issues in the degraded forest area were caused by an inappropriate resettlement policy. This can be interpreted as the mismanagement of social capital, and for effective local forest management it is very important to overcome problems of this nature. The effective use of social capital has so far been overlooked, however, in the establishment of collaborative forest governance at the local level.