Geography

Title

Devolution in the woods: Community forestry as hybrid neoliberalism

Document Type

Article

Abstract

This paper explores the remarkable congruence between the proliferation of community forestry initiatives in North America in recent years and the ascendance of particular forms of neoliberalism. In it I argue that, in the United States in particular, such initiatives are best understood as hybrids between 'rollout' neoliberalism and contemporaneous trends in the management of protected areas and state-owned forests. This interpretation contributes to recent arguments that the environment has been understudied as an arena through which neoliberalism has been actively constituted, rather than simply a passive recipient of 'impacts'. Moreover, surprisingly little academic work has explored the imbrications of specific changes in environmental governance and evolving neoliberalism in the latter's 'First World' geographic hearths, such as the USA and the United Kingdom. In this paper I undertake such an investigation with respect to community forestry in the United States. The paper traces the major antecedents, introduction, and institutionalizations of community forestry in the United States, and shows how their conceptualizations and enactments of 'community' are structured by hegemonic neoliberal ideas, making community forestry in this context supplementary, rather than oppositional, to neoliberal restructurings. Exploration of the current Bush administration's enthusiastic adoption of central elements of community forestry bolsters this interpretation. Finally, the conclusion draws implications from this case for debates in political ecology.

Publication Title

Environment and Planning A

Publication Date

6-1-2005

Volume

37

Issue

6

First Page

995

Last Page

1014

ISSN

0308-518X

DOI

10.1068/a36266

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