Posted by: Bob Payne | May 18, 2011

Forest management decisions should be made at the local level

Forest management decisions should be made at the local level, says the organizer of a community-based forestry conference held Tuesday at Lakehead University. Peggy Smith, an associate professor in the faculty of natural resources at the Thunder Bay school, said the province’s planned forest tenure reform, which passed third reading at Queen’s Park on Tuesday, said the newly created local forest management corporations leave too much power in the hands of the province.



  1. Forest management decisions should be made at the local level. I don’t think it is quite as simple as that. There is need for Provincial legislation to guide local decision making in the interests of the public and to hold local decision makers accountable for doing so. There is a question about who makes the decisions at the local level. There is some a need for distributive justice. Local decision makers are equally capable of making both bad and good decisions and acting in support of special interests. Much of forest management is in fact focused on the management of non timber resources and ecosystem services – so forest management must be viewed in the broadest sense. So while I agree that ultimately forest management decisions should be made at the local level, the much harder question is how to design a system of national or provincial legislation underwriting the development and deployment of systems tenure and governance to deliver local effective, efficient, responsible, equitable and stable forest management that is adequately funded within both a local and global context? One good place to start looking for answers to this question is the work of Elinor Ostrom at the University of Indiana. Two books in particular might be helpful: (1) Governing the Commons. The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action, published in 1990, and (2) Understanding Institutional Diversity, published in 2005.

    • Well said (written!), Ian. Thanks! Cheers, Bob

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