Participation in social forestry re-examined: a case study from Bangladesh

There has recently been unprecedented enthusiasm in Bangladesh for Social Forestry (SF). SF projects have been launched with the goal of involving local communities in managing forest resources. Proponents claim that SF has opened new scope for people's participation in forestry. Against such promises and claims, this paper attempts to evaluate the nature and extent of participation in an SF project in Bangladesh, which is currently receiving attention from government and donors. The paper uses a systematic theoretical framework to evaluate participation in the decision-making, implementation, benefit-sharing, and evaluation of the project. It concludes that people's participation has been insignificant, and marginal. People have virtually no major involvement in project-related decisions and evaluation, but perform within strict bureaucratic limits.