Document Type

Book Chapter

Date of Original Version



Natural Resources Science


Governments around the world are increasingly handing over the authority for the management of national forests to the local communities. By 2016, governments in 62 countries had given communities legal rights to manage 732 million hectares of national forest. This approach has been particularly widespread in South Asia. Nepal and India have the oldest and largest programs in the region: community forest user groups in Nepal managed 22 million hectares of national forest in 2016, while forest protection committees in India managed 17 million ha of national forest in 2011. The experience of Nepal and India in the 1980s and 1990s encouraged the development of community forestry programs in many other countries. Overall, community forestry programs have been highly successful at providing a wide range of economic and social benefits to the participating user groups. However, concerns have been raised about the ability of user groups to manage their community forests on a sustainable basis and share products in an equitable manner. This entry reviews the literature related to the sustainability and equity of forest management in community forests.