Collaborative Forest Governance

The Role of Communities in Collaborative Forest Governance in Canada: Contributing to Theory and Practice through Comparative Study

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

Maureen Reed with John Sinclair and John Parkins

The purpose of this research was to understand, theoretically and practically, how collaborative governance arrangements can foster learning and adaptive capacity of Canadian forest-based communities during times of environmental, social and economic transition. Research was conducted in Canadian community forests and model forests. Two key questions shaped the research: How do collaborative models of environmental governance co-evolve with the "roll-out" of policy and program reforms affecting forest-based communities? To what extent can collaborative governance arrangements contribute to learning and adaptation so that communities can shape their economic, environmental and political futures?

Our objectives were to:

1. Describe how the structures, practices, and membership of Canadian forest-based collaborative governance arrangements evolve through periods of environmental, social and economic transition;
2. Assess the extent to which different models of collaborative governance demonstrate "good and adaptive governance";
3. Examine how opportunities for individual and social learning by forest-based community participants emerge and are fostered through such collaborative governance arrangements;
4. Determine key capacities and conditions required by forest-based community participants to collaborate, learn, and adapt throughout a collaborative arrangement;
5. Compare and assess the outcomes of these arrangements (including the costs and benefits of participating) for residents of forest-based communities; and
6. Identify and share practical lessons with study participants, policy-makers, and other initiatives to enhance capacity for collaboration, learning, and adaptation among forest-based communities.