Does Collective Action Sequester Carbon? Evidence from the Nepal Community Forestry Program

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Research Article

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World Development


This paper uses 620 forest plot measurements taken from a nationally representative sample of 130 Nepal community forests combined with information on forest collective action to estimate the effects of collective action on carbon per hectare and three additional measures of forest quality. We use three measures of forest user group collective action, including membership in the Nepal Community Forestry Programme (CFP). Collective action shows large, positive, and statistically significant carbon effects vis-à-vis communities exhibiting no evidence of forest collective action, which do not necessarily correspond with results for other measures of forest quality. We find that depending on the collective action definition and physiographic region, forests controlled by communities exhibiting no evidence of forest collective action may have as little as 34% of the carbon of forests governed under collective action. We do not, however, find evidence that CFP forests, our narrowest measure of collective action, store more carbon than forests outside the CFP. Our results therefore suggest that it is the collective action behavior and not the official CFP label that offers the largest gains. Carbon benefits from collective action are therefore not found to be conditional on CFP participation.

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