Decentralizing property rights from state control to user communities has encouraged people's participation in forest management. Relatively few studies, however, examine the forest regulations required for exercising such property rights. To address this issue, Schlager and Ostrom's 'bundle of rights' framework was used to examine various forms of property rights and regulations in three systems of community-based forest management. The field research was undertaken in the northern Philippines, using eight cases of community-based forest management at sites in the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Ifugao. Local communities were found to informally retain the authority to create locally crafted property rights and regulations in a central government-initiated program. While forest regulations and practices prescribed at the national level have improved forest conditions, the flow of forest benefits to communities has been limited because of decentralization without devolution of authority. A case study of a site initiated by a local government indicated that the transfer of responsibility from the central government to local government units can create more favourable conditions for the flow of forest benefits to communities. But due to a lack of clarity about devolution of cutting permits and about the locations of afforested critical watershed areas, authorized local users lose their authorization. When forest is managed traditionally, communities can have more assured rights than in government-initiated programs, particularly in relation to tree ownership. This is because individuals have the authority to devise collective-choice rights as well as operational rights.
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