Community Forestry in Scotland: decentralisation, power and empowerment
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Community Forestry is a form of natural governance that is steadily growing in popularity. Community Forestry has numerous communal and environmental benefits: such as community cohesion, and stability, as well as increased biodiversity, conservation, and carbon sequestration. Community Forestry necessarily requires the decentralisation of power in one form or another, and is thus bound up in issues of decentralisation of governance, relations of power, and empowerment. Decentralisation of governance is fundamentally about the redistribution of power and resources from central government to local resource users. When decentralisation is carried out successfully it will lead to power being shared more equally among parties, and it should lead to the empowerment of local communities. However, despite being a political process, the Government and the Forestry Commission Scotland are not engaging as fully as they could be with the Community Forestry process. Policy makers need to realise the full potential of Community Forestry, and the FCS need to recognise how far Community Forestry could go to helping them meet their wider strategic aims. Therefore it is important to question the role decentralisation, power, and empowerment play within the Community Forestry movement in Scotland to gain a fuller understanding of exactly how they impact on Community Forestry, and therefore how Community Forestry could be improved, and made more successful.