The restoration of the livelihood of forest-based communities is an important element of forest conservation. In this study, we developed a framework of restorative justice to critically evaluate the fairness and equity of the management of non-timber forest products (NTFPs), which is often considered an important means of livelihood restoration in forest conservation. The framework, consisting of three tenets—recognitional, procedural, and distributive justice—was applied to an ethnographic study conducted in the Greater Khingan Range—a key site of forest conservation in China. The findings reveal that attempts to commercialize and use NTFPs have failed to achieve restorative justice. From the perspective of recognition justice, which concerns the different viewpoints being considered in decision-making, there is an imbalance in representation—higher-level government's preferences for certain action result in the creation of political projects, even though they are not likely to succeed, whereas local, bottom-up NTFP projects are ignored and under-supported by the government. From the procedural perspective, the lack of engagement of experts and participation of public undermines the quality of NTFP projects and the implementation of NTFP management policies. From the distribution perspective, the opportunities to gain benefits from NTFP projects are not equally distributed between state-owned forestry enterprise (SOFE) workers and non-workers. These findings show that it is important to incorporate fairness and equity issues considerations in the design and evaluation of NTFP projects, and our restorative justice framework provides an analytical basis to do so.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
- Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
- Forest conservation
- Livelihood restoration
- Non-timber forest products
- Restorative justice