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Abstract

Current natural resource policy emphasizes devolved control to local levels of government and stakeholder groups. Effective strategies are as yet unclear, given mixed results in devolutionary efforts and few empirical analyses. Using original community-level survey data from Oaxaca, Mexico, a region with 90% common property forestland, the study describes how existing community governance structures accommodate an increasing local role in managing forest land. Multidimensional performance indicators for forest condition and group rule conformance are constructed and regressed on measures of democratic involvement and attendance rate at general meetings within the community setting. Empirical results show that community officials and foresters working through broader-reaching forums for disseminating information and seeking management plan approval improves both performance indicators, while attendance rate additionally leads to greater rule conformance. Results imply that the nature and conduit of community involvement matters in encouraging cooperation with management objectives and give a further understanding of how devolution policies can be applied in complex institutional settings.

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