Tag Archives: Amazon

Unpredictable Outcomes in Forestry—Governance Institutions in Practice

Jessica de Koning


Society and Natural Resources


Community forest management in the Amazon has been subject to institutional changes because of a shift from government to governance. Although these changes aim to create opportunities for local communities, the effectiveness of new institutions
remains arbitrary. In particular, the unpredictability of legislative outcomes—as one of the institutional changes—evokes discussion on how local people respond to new institutions. This article analyzes the effects of forest institutions at the local level. By using the concept of institutional bricolage, the article argues that institutions in practice work differently than intended.

Bricolage practices in local forestry

Jessica de Koning and Charlotte Benneker, 2013, In: Arts, B., Behagel, J., Bommel, S. van, Koning, J. de, Turnhout, E. Forest and nature governance: a practice based approach. Dordrecht: Springer.

Academics and policy makers often analyse the role of institutions in terms of an institutional logic that assumes that designed institutions can effectively shape the (rational) behaviour of actors. In turn, this institutional approach assumes that local actors will automatically embrace new institutions and adapt their behaviour accordingly. However, research at the grassroots level reveals a different story. In this chapter, we show how the introduction of regulations and norms on local forestry triggers a chain of different, often unexpected, responses from local actors. The chapter addresses the processes by which local actors respond to externally imposed institutional arrangements in terms of a logic of practice. It uses the concept of bricolage to analyse forest use practices on the ground that result from the reshaping and combining of different institutional elements. The chapter draws on examples from the global South to show that local actors creatively construct a patchwork of institutions in which old institutions are recombined with the new and in which it becomes clear that institutions in fact do not directly influence behaviour but rather emerge in practices of bricolage directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously. It concludes by stating that introduced institutions do not easily steer human behaviour. A much more important determinant of behaviour is the local logic of practice of local actors. The impact of introduced institutions on local forestry therefore greatly depends on how much they relate to an existing logic of practice.

Reshaping institutions: bricolage processes in smallholder forestry in the Amazon.

KaftboekcopyJessica de Koning



This thesis aims at identifying the different kinds of institutional influences on forest practices of small farmers in the Amazon region of Ecuador and Bolivia and how small farmers respond to them. It departs from the perspective that institutions affecting forest practices are subject to processes of institutional bricolage in which small farmers construct their own institutional frameworks by aggregating, altering, or articulating elements of existing disparate institutions. This research demonstrates that institutions, whether introduced by government, NGO, or already existing, are subject to processes of institutional bricolage that can be either conscious and strategic of nature or less conscious and unintentional.

Community forestry in Bolivia


My field visits to Bolivia happened over a number of times in the period 2006-2009. All my work took place in villages near a town called Riberalta (see map). This was work I needed to do for my PhD research on forest policies and their effect on small farmers in the Amazon region of Bolivia.

In Bolivia I focussed my research on 3 communities relatively near to the town of Riberalta. In these communities, forestry is one of the sources of income. The main income comes from the harvesting of Brazil nut, also known as castana. The harvest season is an important time of the year as the income that comes from this is in most instances the most important income of the year.