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constituted to handle harvesting and processing. COHDEFOR and the state companies

came to dominate the forestry sector in Honduras. Harvesting permits were still sold to

private companies, but at a smaller scale than to the state companies.

The law also mandated the creation of a “Social Forestry System,” which was

supposed to involve rural communities in forest management. The logic behind the

system was that rural communities living within forested areas were the people in the best

position to protect and take care of the forests. Many have suggested that giving groups

exclusive common property rights as opposed to free access for all can be an effective

tool for forest management (Stanley, 1991a and 1991b; McKean & Ostrom, 1995;

Richards, 1993 and 2002). Bromley (1989) states that “A common property regime is not

a situation of open access; common property has a well-defined group of authorized

users, a well-defined resource that the group will manage and use, and a set of

institutional arrangements with rules of use for the resource.” By involving them in

forest management and allowing them to benefit from the forest, it was hoped that the

communities would actively protect the forest from fires, overgrazing, illegal logging,

and migratory agriculture.

The law stated that any groups of community members organized as part of a

legally recognized institution could participate in the system. The law did not define

exactly which institutions were legal and appropriate. The law did not specify the

manner in which the communities would be able to participate in forest management. As

in all other matters concerning forest management, COHDEFOR had the last word. The

system which COHDEFOR eventually promoted was the formation of agroforestry

cooperatives. This system was most heavily promoted in areas of pine forest, and the


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