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Rural communities are increasingly involved in the management of forests, which are often on their ancestral lands. It is not always clear to what extent such community forest management contributes to the positive social and environmental outcomes, and under which conditions the best outcomes are achieved. Borneo Futures collaborates in studies that determine the effectiveness and efficiency of community forest and wildlife management programs and work with government institutions to develop risk-specific investment strategies

Indonesia, the country that comprises the majority of Borneo’s land area, recognizes the constitutional rights of communities to manage their forests and is putting policies in place legalize such use. Borneo Futures has been engaged with several research programs which assessed the extent to which community-managed forests provide socio-economic benefits to communities as well as reduce deforestation and fires. Overall, studies indicate that there are positive impacts both socially and economically from allowing communities to manage their own forests. The extent of which does, however, depend on the areas in which these community-based programs are implemented.

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Community forest management projects in Indonesia often, but not always, provide win-win solutions for environmental and social outcomes compared to villages without such programs.

Having carefully analysed the determinants of success in community-based programs, Borneo Futures are currently initiating a pilot program, in which we aim to investigate whether there is opportunity for conditional payments from individual donors to communities for protective measures of orangutans and their habitat.
Our research on community welfare also extends to the socio-economic impacts of oil palm development on nearby rural communities. We find that the people that benefit most from oil palm development are those with long term experience in the market economy and related land use practices. Communities that relied until recently on income from forests are quite often worse off with oil palm than without.

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