Discussion Papers in Economics

Planning Unit, Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi


Collective Action for Forest Conservation: Does Heterogeneity Matter?
By E. Somanathan, R. Prabhakar, and B.S. Mehta.


Community management of forests by Van Panchayats (forest councils) to meet local needs has a long history in the Indian Central Himalayas. This essay examines the effects of village-level heterogeneity in caste and land ownership, and of female membership in the Panchayats on collective action for forest conservation. There is no evidence that caste heterogeneity or female membership of the Panchayat have any effect. There is some evidence that greater equality in land ownership may enhance collective action and forest conservation in pine forests but not broadleaved forests. This is puzzling since villagers' interest in conservation is greater in broadleaved than in pine forests. JEL Codes: O13, Q2