Edited by Hans Westlund and Kiyoshi Kobayashi
Chapter 2: Forest governance and social capital: structures and functions
Forests are an important common-pool resource to support local life – including the living and working of local residents – as well as to support global life – including human life and earth systems such as air, water, climate, energy and wild nature. In Japanese mountainous areas, forests were traditionally managed by local residents who engaged in forestry. Forestry thus contributed to the maintenance and improvement of forest conditions. Trade liberalization on forestry products and the resulting decline in their price, however, have led to a decline in Japanese forestry. Furthermore, recent rural depopulation and aging have accelerated the decline. As a result, it has become hard for local residents to manage forests in sustainable ways. Under the circumstances, it is necessary to find a new framework for forest management founded upon collaboration between local residents and other stakeholders deriving benefits from forests. But without appropriate governance and a communication foundation for the new management framework, it is hard to facilitate and ensure collaboration. Indeed, it is often the case that local residents and external stakeholders, including urban residents and environmental organizations, come into conflict over the use of forests, and then collaborative forest management is not realized (e.g., Inoue and Miyauchi 2001). Given the current situation, an important question to be considered, which serves as the focus of this chapter, is: how and under what governance structures can collaborative forest management among various stakeholders be realized?
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