Institutional change and social conflicts over the forest use in the northern Bolivian Amazon
The research area comprises about 10 Mio ha of nearly continuous forest. Its economy revolves around the extraction of forest products, mainly Brazil nuts. These activities were traditionally carried on by large landowners, so called barraqueros. Since 1996 the Bolivian government has introduced land reforms that created new conditions of forest access for more than 300 rural communities. However the implementation of the new state policies shows handicaps like sharp social conflicts and the shortage of technical and financial means of public organizations.
Based on the concept of New Institutional Economics, the theoretical framework covers aspects such as institutional changes, property rights and power relations between stakeholders.
A crucial aspect of the study is the analysis of conflicts caused by forestry and land reform laws. The empirical results are based on 198 interviews conducted with the most important actors in the region (forest users, public organizations, non-government organizations, producer associations, forest enterprises, etc.). First research findings show that the current conflicts can be explained by three factors: overlapping customary and new state property rights over land and forests; contradicting forest access strategies by different actors; and diverse interests of external stakeholders such as NGOs, sawmills and the state organizations themselves. The expected results of this study shall contribute to the better understanding of institutional change in regions historically governed by local elites, where nowadays the state tries to increase its control over the management of natural resources and the involvement of rural communities
Ruiz, Sergio, Dissertation
Professur für Environmental Governance
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