Forest management which is more inclusive of the
interests of local people has been one of the central
foci of forestry globally for the past 25 years.
Countries in which there is a strong dependency
between people and forests, such as Nepal, have
been at the forefront of this more participatory forest
management, which is closely associated with
devolution of State authority over forests. The participatory
management paradigm recognises both
the potential of local people and the limits of central
government for sustainable forest management. A
second generation of participatory forest management
is now emerging, drawing on the diverse experiences
and mixed outcomes of the first
generation; increasingly, it recognises the need for
synergistic collaboration between different interests
if participatory modes of forest management are to
deliver the outcomes sought by different interests.
While there has been strong public participation in
Australian forest policy for the past 25 years, and
while Australian foresters have often been at the
forefront of participatory forestry initiatives abroad,
it is only very recently that forms of participatory
forest management have been introduced to Australia.
As elsewhere, participatory forest management
has the potential to better satisfy community
aspirations and needs of forests, but — like other
modes of sustainable forest management — its
success requires an enabling policy framework,
substantial interdisciplinary inputs, very functional
collaboration between different interests, and longterm
political and resource commitment.