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Library Using a multilevel approach to analyse the case of forest conflicts in the Terai, Nepal

Using a multilevel approach to analyse the case of forest conflicts in the Terai, Nepal

Using a multilevel approach to analyse the case of forest conflicts in the Terai, Nepal

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Date of publication
December 2013
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Recent years have witnessed an intensification of forest-related conflicts between various stakeholders in Nepal, particularly between the state and local people, over the control, management and use of forests in the southern plains of the Terai. This paper analyses the multiple dimensions of conflicts in Terai forestry policy and practice using a multilevel approach. Multilevel forest conflicts in the Terai are explained as a nested concept, existing at different overlapping levels (ranging from the global level to households). At one pole, Terai forestry can be understood in terms of conflicts of interest between Nepal's national concerns for development and global concerns for environmental protection. At the other pole, access to and control of lands and forests and opportunities for participation in a family environment (intra-household and interpersonal levels) are based on inequalities of gender (male domination of women) or age (family head or older members prevailing over younger family members). In between the two poles of global and household levels are other identifiable levels of conflict in Terai forestry: state versus community; inter-community (between various groups); and intra-community conflicts (along dimensions of class, caste, ethnicity, gender, religion, and age). This paper situates and applies the idea of multiple levels of conflict to various dominant regimes of forest management in the Terai and argues that the issue of land and forest control, and hence dimensions of forest conflicts in the Terai, are not only an issue of global–state–community conflict, but are also driven by undercurrents of ethnicity (e.g. hill-origin versus plain-origin people), migrants versus indigenous groups (inter-community conflict), and other intra-community differences. In so doing, the paper develops and applies a multilevel analytical approach to understand how different governance regimes influence, and are influenced by, social heterogeneity and conflict across multiple scales. It is argued that methodologically the multilevel approach outlined in this paper can be used as a comprehensive framework in the analysis of complex issues of forest and land use conflict elsewhere.

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Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s)

Satyal Pravat, Poshendra
Humphreys, David

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Geographical focus