Since 1930, areas of state-managed forest in the central Himalayas of India have increasingly been devolved to management by local communities. This article studies the long-run effects of the devolution on the cost of forest management and on forest conservation. Village council-management costs an order of magnitude less per unit area and does no worse, and possibly better, at conservation than state management. Geographic proximity and historical and ecological information are used to separate the effects of management from those of possible confounding factors.
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