Social accountability and community forest management: the failure of collaborative governance in the Wombat Forest

This article presents a critical analysis of what caused Australia’s first Community Forest Management (CFM) trial to fail. We explore how ‘community’ was conceptualised and represented through the dynamic CFM process, leading to contradictions and conflicts that could not be resolved. Closely linked to these issues we examine the governance structures and institutions that were created to try to enable community participation in forest management. Ambiguity and uncertainty in the power and purpose of the CFM organisation, as well as power relationships within the organisation, all contributed to conflicts that eventually tore the CFM process apart.