The concept of social capital within the forest governance field encompasses networks, norms and values of local communities that determine cooperation and contribute to their development. Interlinkages among community characteristics affecting the implementation of governance arrangements, forest policy instruments or traditional social norms are untangled; this enlightens policy-makers and practitioners about the variables requiring attention beyond traditional technical factors or individual incentives. Through the review of social capital (SC) and forest governance literature, we find network structure and institutions as their common core aspects. Theoretical relationships and feedbacks are first identified, and then checked in published forestry case studies. We propose hence a dynamic, nested model comprehensively illustrating the co-evolution of SC and forest governance elements along a policy process. The model uncovers the interrelation between different factors underlying natural resources' and rural development challenges based on cooperative behaviour. This model identifies cognitive dimensions of SC as triggers of local-level governance reforms. Network structure shapes information flows, power relationships, trust among actors and innovation spread. Trust and social sanctioning impinge on the enforcement of (in)formal norms and rules. The model applies in forest policies entailing cooperation among open-access resource users, landowners' coordination for adjacency externalities, upscaling management, or value chain reorganisation.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonst ration under grant agreement No. 311919