Property rights dimensions of forest management and control : case studies in the Solomon Islands and British Columbia, Canada
There has been a tendency in the forest policy arena to concentrate on top-down managerial and technical aspects of forest management in order to ensure long term supplies of timber and, to a lesser extent, conservation of biodiversity. By analysing the political dimensions of property rights, these approaches to forest management can be understood to mask the fact that forests are often contested domains, with local forest communities' rights and aspirations often at odds with the dominant production/protection regime. The thesis thus analyses the property rights assumptions of the dominant forest management regime in relation to forest communities' rights and access to forest resources, and analyses how and why property rights institutions are chosen and how they evolve over time. By defining property rights as political institutions establishing reciprocal relationships between social actors in relation to forests, issues of power, exclusion and competing rights claims become the central focus of analysis. An analytical framework based on institutional theory is adopted to explore the complex political processes that shape evolving property rights institutions. Institutional theory identities key factors that act as constraints or incentives to institutional choice and change: distributional conflict; asymmetries in power between bargaining parties; the role of ideology; and historical path dependence. The thesis analyses data from two case studies, the Solomon Islands and British Columbia, Canada, in order to investigate these factors in an empirical setting. The findings suggest that the analytical factors provide a useful means of comparative analysis and help explain the dynamic political processes surrounding property rights institutions and forest management in each case, not only in terms of how the institutions were established but also how change has been constrained or mediated over time.