This paper presents a case study of Nepal's' user group forestry programme. The programme's objective is to bring abut 'phased handover of hill forests to the communities'. This paper argues that the power to manipulate forest resources does not lie with the state (but with local landlords or broader community groups), and that shifting power to the community involves reconciling the demands of different interest groups. It suggests that before attempting to shift power it is necessary to identify and assess existing and future institutional arrangements, and to identify the degree of autonomy or participation to which the community aspires. Of interest to PRA collection users is the section on the transformation of the forest department, and the relationships between forest user groups and field staff. Participatory workshops, field support and institutional change were strategies used to effect this transformation, with mixed results. This process of transformation is analysed in detail.
This paper may be of interest to those involved in participatory forestry programmes, especially those involving close collaboration with governments.
GAPP Conference on Participatory Development