Conflict may simultaneously help and hinder the local governance of community forests. Based on 499 observations of forest user groups included in the International Forestry Resources and Institutions (IFRI) database, it is shown here that variables which are associated with good community forestry outcomes also correlate positively with the occurrence of conflict. This finding seems to be incongruent with the notion that conflict undermines collective action and therewith the potential for sustainable governance of community forests. Individual preferences cannot be easily amalgamated into a group preference. Efforts to articulate group preferences depend on the institutions chosen to reach compromises. These institutions are commonly challenged by those whose preferences are poorly served, adding to the potential for conflict. Therefore it is argued here, that the study of conflict in community forest governance should incorporate rules and rule-making procedures in its analyses.
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Vol. 15 • No. 1