Prof. Iben Nathan

  • MA/PhD Political Science, University of Aarhus, 1988/1998.



Boon, TRE;, Nathan I.  2013.  New modes of governance-new modes of participation?
Nathan, I.  2013.  Forest and People in Developing Countries, introduction to the research area, status and plans. Abstract

Citation for this document: Nathan, I., & Treue, T. Forest and People in Developing Countries, introduction to the research area, status and plans. In Presentation at the IAC meeting, Forest and Landscape, Denmark

Saito, M;, Nathan I;, Treue T.  2013.  How to reduce the risk and effects of elite capture.
Boon, TRE;, Lund DH;, Nathan I.  2013.  Danish national park process: chapter 3.3. Abstract

document's citation: Boon, T. R. E., Lund, D. H., & Nathan, I. (2008). Danish national park process: chapter 3.3. Vienna: University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna.



Kamelarczyk, KBF;, Theilade I;, Nathan I;, Saito M.  2011.  Proceedings from the international seminar” REDD+ expectations and experiences”.


Nathan, Iben; Thomsen, K, Thomsen K.  2010.  Can smallholders be supplied with quality tree seed through commercial distribution of tree seed in small bags. Abstract

This paper discusses the possibility for retail sale of small quantities of tree seed to smallholders through private enterprises already dealing with horticultural and agricultural seed. It is suggested that the private enterprises purchase tree seed at national tree seed programmes, pack the seed in small bags and distribute and sell the bags through their networks of local seed dealers. A picture of the tree will be printed on the front of the bag, and guidelines for using the seed will be printed on the back. The aim is to increase smallholders' access to high quality tree seed. The discussion will focus on seed-physiological, genetic and financial aspects.


Boon, TE; Lund, DH; NI.  2009.  The national park pilot process introducing new forms of governance in Danish nature politics. Abstract

The present report constitutes part of the Danish contribution to the European research project New Modes of Governance for Sustainable Forests in Europe (GoFOR). It builds on the conceptual framework developed during the GoFOR project and is structured according to the corresponding Terms of Reference. The National Park Pilot Process (NPP) was to identify options for establishing national parks in Denmark. The expected output was a non-binding input to policy formulation. The Minister of Environment (MoE) enquired counties and municipalities of six areas whether they were interested in hosting a pilot project. The Outdoor Council, an umbrella NGO for outdoor and environmental NGOs, entered the political arena, adding 2 ½ million Euro to the project and entered into an agreement with the Minister of Environment regarding how to implement the pilot projects, and it was decided to support pilot projects in seven areas. In the following phase, the MoE initiated the process by sketching out rough guidelines for the organisation of the pilot projects to the counties and municipalities. The pilot projects were to elaborate a report with recommendations on how to organise a prospective National park. Locally, the pilot projects were led by steering committees headed by (in most cases) mayors from the municipality assisted by the local state forest districts and with representatives from a broad range of organisations. At the national level a national advisory group was set up with members representing different Ministries, NGOs and the chairmen of the seven steering committees. The purpose of this committee was to assist in carrying out relevant investigations and to compile the reports from the seven pilot projects elaborating one final report to be submitted to the MoE. So far the process has resulted in the elaboration of a draft proposal for a National Park Act. From the initiation and onwards, the Government rhetoric was dominated by wanting a voluntary approach, extensive participation by landowners and other local stakeholders, and an intersectoral solution. Along with a participatory approach, expert knowledge was attributed a significant role. Participation The NPP was initiated and framed ‘from above’, and can best be characterised as a governance process induced and embraced by Government. The identification and appointment of the pilot project areas was a bilateral communication between the MoE and the mayors of the municipalities. If a municipality did not want to join, that area was omitted. From a local perspective this may be fair insofar as the mayors are elected representatives of the local population. But it also meant that possible areas of national interests were omitted without national stakeholders having a say in it. Within this government induced process, the pilot projects took a bottom-up approach. In pilot project ‘Kongernes Nordsjælland’ the steering committee initiated the establishing of thematic groups which prepared a number of proposals which were brought up at a citizen summit for (what was intended as a socio-demographically representative) deliberating dialogue and voting procedure. There was a high degree of transparency and information, tending towards information overflow in the pilot projects. The process managed to involve new stakeholders, notably the local mayors, who traditionally have not been involved in nature policy, since nature and agriculture was beyond the jurisdiction of the municipalities, until the Structural Reform in 2007. But the organisers of the process, the Forest and Nature Agency found it difficult to mobilise the ‘ordinary citizens’ despite active efforts. iv Experiences from pilot project ‘Kongernes Nordsjælland’ indicated that the NPP had problems dealing with minority viewpoints: The one main conflict was that Agriculture wanted to restrict the national park area to already publicly owned areas, whereas the proposal that evolved from the steering committee included corridors on privately owned land. The Agricultural organisations played a hesitant role in the process and left at the end, proposing their own suggestion for demarcation. Intersectoral coordination There is tradition for involving interest groups from different sectors in decision-making in Denmark, yet the ISC was more formalised and deliberately emphasised in this process than formerly, and as a new thing, the local level was involved. Prior to the Structural Reform 2007, nature policies related to the national and county level, and agricultural policies entirely to EU and the national level. By establishing a discussion at local level too, the ‘column-like’ character of the nature and agricultural sectors was partly dissolved. Multilevel governance The degree of Multi-level governance varies with the phase we look at. Seen as a whole, the NPP was a top-down governed process. The pilot project phase was bottom-up with active involvement of local levels, but the pilot projects were evaluated by the national advisory group, and the parliamentary statement and draft Act on National parks was prepared by the National Forest and Nature Agency for the Minister of Environment. It appears the decision-making power lies with the MoE, the National Forest and Nature Agency and the Outdoor Council. Expertise There was a focus on the need to investigate specified topics, defined by the MoE/NFNA. Many experts participated from various research institutions, consultancy firms, counties and NFNA. In principle there was rich opportunity for contesting viewpoints. In practice, it was division of work within strictly limited time. The final expert reports were not included in the discussions for time reasons. Still, the new thing was that experts got closer to the public, i.e. experts were asked to report on their methods towards the broad public, possibly strengthening accountability. A report about biodiversity came up in the middle of the process, showing that the chosen pilot projects were not optimal from a (insect) biodiversity perspective. This information was deliberately set aside by most stakeholders, even the Danish Society of Nature Conservation. Adaptive and iterative planning The aim of the process was to decide if and how National parks should be established. In that sense the process was part of and adaptive, iterative planning process, because this question was addressed at national, local and then again national level. There was a great degree of complexity and uncertainty, as during the pilot project phase it was uncertain if pilot projects would ever be implemented.

Lund, LH;, Boon TE.  2009.  Accountability of experts in the Danish national park process. AbstractWebsite

In 2002 the Danish Minister of Environment initiated a process to investigate the possibilities of establishing national parks in Denmark. For this purpose experts were mobilised to investigate the status and potentials of the areas in question. The national park process was extensive in scope and complex, and in theory such complexity is assumed to make it difficult for non-experts to understand all the relevant aspects of policy. This exclusion of non-experts may lead to scientification of politics. Furthermore politicisation of science might occur as experts might advocate political interests disguised as objective science, and policy-makers might select results that further their own interests. As a result policy-makers risk losing a source of legitimacy, scientists risk losing credibility and the citizens risk losing the possibility to hold policy-makers accountable for their decisions, which puts democracy at risk. This paper examines the accountability relationships that experts were a part of in the national park process. These include accountability towards the employer, towards the buyer and towards the general public. The purpose is to determine if these relationships were adequate to circumvent the problems associated with scientification of politics and to discuss how accountability relationships and thereby democracy could be strengthened. The empirical analysis shows that in the national park process experts were mainly accountable towards the National Forest and Nature Agency. There were formal accountability relationships between the experts and the local steering committees and the national advisory group, but these relationships were less significant. Moreover, despite the fact that the process was deemed unusually open to the public by the participants, the relationship between experts and the public cannot be characterised as an accountability relationship and could have been improved by including experts in the deliberative fora of the process.


Boon, TRE;, Lund DH;, Buttoud G;, Kouplevatskaya I.  2008.  Analysis along procedural elements. Website


Nathan, I, Lund JF, Gausset Q, Andersen SK.  2007.  On the Promises of Devolution: Overcoming the Constraints of Natural Resource Management in a Village in Tanzania. Abstract

This article is concerned with the hypothesis that devolution, understood as entrusting local government with significant domains of autonomous discretionary power, will lead to the equitable and efficient management of natural resources. The paper focuses on the three domains of power conceived by some theorists as critical in the management of natural resources, namely making rules, implementing rules, and resolving disputes in relation to these rules. Based on a case study of a village in Tanzania, the article identifies some of the main constraints the village council encounters concerning the efficient and equitable management of common lands, and discusses whether devolution is the solution for overcoming these constraints. It is concluded that the role and functions of higher levels of government in decentralised natural resource management are essential and require due consideration beyond the point of arguing for more autonomy to local government.

Gausset, Q, Andersen SK, Hansen HH, Lund JF, Mugasha AG, Nathan I, Theilade I.  2007.  Opportunities and constraints for private and communal tree management in Majawanga (Gairo, Tanzania)..
Søren, M;, Lars S;.  2007.  Guidelines for distribution of tree seed in small bags: small quantities and high quality. AbstractWebsite

It has been assessed that the majority of trees planted in developing countries are planted by farmers. On-farm tree planting is likely to gain importance in the future as access to natural forests and trees is getting more and more difficult. On-farm tree planting, however, often suffers from lack of access to a diversity of high quality tree planting material. Quality tree seed are normally sold from major seed producers (national tree seed organisations) in a centralised manner, with only 1-3 outlets within the country, and often only in large quantities. Small holders cannot afford to travel long distances and need only small amounts of seed. Therefore the seed will have to be brought to the farmers

Søren, M, Lars S;.  2007.  Guidelines for distribution of tree seed in small bags: small quantities and high quality. AbstractWebsite

It has been assessed that the majority of trees planted in developing countries are planted by farmers. On-farm tree planting is likely to gain importance in the future as access to natural forests and trees is getting more and more difficult. On-farm tree planting, however, often suffers from lack of access to a diversity of high quality tree planting material. Quality tree seed are normally sold from major seed producers (national tree seed organisations) in a centralised manner, with only 1-3 outlets within the country, and often only in large quantities. Small holders cannot afford to travel long distances and need only small amounts of seed. Therefore the seed will have to be brought to the farmer

Treue, T;.  2007.  Community-based natural resource management. AbstractWebsite

This technical note gives a brief introduction to community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) and how this concept may be used as a development strategy. CBNRM has the triple objective of poverty reduction, natural resource conservation and good governance. The opportunity and challenge is to pursue these objectives simultaneously, as they are not, by default, mutually supportive. Lessons learnt from CBNRM will be useful when designing community-based climate adaptation strategies. Thus, this note is a contribution to an ongoing debate as well as a product of the long-standing experiences of Danida’s environmental portfolio. The note has been produced in cooperation with the Department for Forest, Landscape and Planning, Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Copenhagen. Many practitioners have contributed through a fruitful peer review process. Dr. Thorsten Treue together with Iben Nathan have been the main contributors to the final note. Involving local communities and securing the rights of poor and marginalised groups in sustainable management of natural resources is a central theme in international development assistance. The poverty-governance-environment link has been further highlighted in recent years through interventions aimed at building capacity for resilience (disaster preparedness) as well as adapting to climate change. A successful implementation of CBNRM often requires changes at three different levels of society: 1) the national level, 2) the local level and the link between these, and 3) the intermediate level. At the national level, policies and the legislative framework normally needs adjustment and revision to establish an enabling environment that makes CBNRM attractive to local communities. At the intermediate level, it is important to promote the model of decentralised natural resource management that is most likely to work under the given political circumstances. In particular, this involves a choice between: (i) devolution of natural resource management authority to elected local governments, and (ii) deconcentration of line agencies, authorising district-level officers to delegate management authority to local communities. At the local level, it is crucial that CBNRM establishes significant economic incentives for managing and conserving the resource, which is closely related to clearly defined and officially supported tenure systems, as well as to revenue-sharing mechanisms. Furthermore, CBNRM should result in a coordination of resource use by numerous individuals, thus establishing an ‘optimal’ rate of production and consumption at the local level as well as for society at large. In practical terms, it is the elaboration, implementation and experience-based revision of resource management plans at local levels that determine the actual performance of CBNRM on the ground. The poverty reduction rationale of CBNRM, as an alternative to open access resource use, is that the total resource value can be maintained or enhanced, and that the costs and benefits of management can be distributed equitably, so that all community members, within a reasonable time horizon, experience a net gain, or at least a zero loss. Resource conservation requires harvest not to exceed increment over the long term. This calls for reasonably accurate knowledge about the extent and growth of the resource, as well as reliable recording of harvest volumes. Even so, CBNRM could still fail at the local level if inefficient rule enforcement allows free-riders to over-harvest the resource, and/or if inequitable distribution of costs and benefits leads to a breakdown of management rules and subsequent over-harvesting or permanent marginalisation of certain groups. Therefore, the establishment and maintenance of good governance or “appropriate decision-making iii arrangements” is the only feasible way to prevent the failure (or ensure the success) of CBNRM. Decision-making arrangements specify who decides what in relation to whom. Good governance at local level can be promoted through CBNRM legislation that establishes democratic conditions of collective choice, so that all members of a community (including women and other potentially vulnerable groups) get the opportunity to participate in defining: (i) the purpose of resource management, and (ii) the resulting management plan, including how it is enforced, and how products and benefits from the common resource are distributed. Furthermore, communities must hold authority to control free-riding by punishing defaulters, and community leaders must be downwards accountable to the people they represent. It would be naïve to assume that, once initiated, CBNRM is a guaranteed self-sustaining success, which needs no monitoring or adjustment. Regular monitoring of CBNRM processes should be conducted to adjust associated policies, legislative framework and implementation strategies, so that failures may be corrected and positive effects enhanced. Monitoring the progress of planned CBNRM activities should be simple and embedded within existing official monitoring systems to ensure sustainability. However, assessment of the degree to which CBNRM is achieving its triple objective should probably be carried out by independent research centres, NGOs and university departments that are not directly engaged in the implementation as such. CBNRM is not a stand-alone solution to poverty, resource degradation and bad governance. Rather it is a development process and constant power struggle. Thus, even after years of implementation, donors are still likely to have a mission in promoting CBNRM. Lessons learnt will feed into the new agenda of community-based adaptation to climate change. Donor support may be channelled as programme-based or as earmarked support for monitoring and research that deliver credible and easily accessible information. Checks and balances can be supported through civil society as well as the media. An informed public debate based on the results of sound monitoring is, in all likelihood, the key to the long-term success of CBNRM.


Boon, TRE;, Nathan I.  2005.  Preassessment report Denmark.
Shrestha, KB;, Jha PK;, Suman S.  2005.  Commercial distribution of tree seed in small bags - results from a pilot and action research project in Nepal. AbstractWebsite

Access to quality tree seed implies specific problems for tree planting farmers in developing countries. Since most of them are smallholders, they need only few seed. Distribution networks usually do not exist for such small quantities. In 2001 it was decided to test a new approach to distribution of tree seed on a pilot basis in Nepal: Commercial distribution of tree seed in small bags through commercial enterprises dealing with horticultural and agricultural seed. In Nepal, such enterprises are known as agro-vets. The development objectives were (a) to increase access to high quality tree seed for farmers, FUG and other small-scale tree-planters, and (b) to support the operations of two tree seed co-operatives, NAFSCOL-Kaski and NAFSCOL-Kabhre by contributing to their increased turnover. The research objectives were to assess the financial, viability and social biodiversity impact of the approach cf. the project description in annex 1. The pilot project ran from 2003-2004 and had two phases. During phase 1, the pilot project was prepared and implemented. Small bags were designed, produced and packed with tree seed from five different fodder species. Agro-vet dealers located in all the different regions of Nepal sold the bags. During phase 2, lessons learned from the pilot project were collected and analysed. Distribution channel: the pilot project confirms that agro-vets can work as channels for reaching small-scale tree planters. There is scope for developing the market further through advertisement and by targeting FUG more directly. Species: the project included five fodder tree species. The choice of these species was appropriate in the sense that the species sold well. Dealers and customers suggested more species to be included. Size of bags: two sizes of bags were produced and distributed with a view to testing which of them would be the most suitable. The smallest bags contained seed for 50 seedlings, the larger bags for 500. The smallest size appeared to be the most suitable, especially for private nurseries, farmers and other small-scale tree planters. The larger size was useful but not required for targeting large-scale tree planters. Design: dealers and customers appreciated the aluminium material and the colourful and attractive design of the bags. The design and the dealers helped convincing the customers to buy the seed. Information on the bags: the respondents found that the information printed on the bags was useful, but requested additional information on sowing season. Some dealers had ordered a second lot of small bags. These bags were not packed properly, which may have implied loss of credibility. Guidelines on germination: guidelines on how to make the seed germinate were elaborated as part of the project. Brochures containing the guidelines were added to the bags and distributed to dealers and other interested persons. Only few of the interviewed customers consulted the guidelines.



Ochsner, P;, Nathan I;, Pedersen A.  2001.  How to reach rural people in developing countries with quality tree planting material. Abstract

It has been stated that the future of trees is on-farm (Simons, 1997). This statement is likely to hold true because trends indicate that tree-planting on-farm is increasing, and because of the growing awareness of the need to grow trees on-farm in the future. Although uncertain it has been estimated that small farmers actually constitute a majority of tree planters, that the number of trees on-farm exceeds the number of trees in plantations, and that this gap tends to increase (Simons, 1997; FAO, 1997). Worldwide deforestation has been estimated at 12.6 mill ha or 0.7 % of the total forested area annually (FAO, 1997). Deforestation and forest degradation result in a dramatic loss of present and, as biodiversity is lost, future options for use of trees (Kjær & Nathan, 2000). This represents a serious problem at the global level but in particular to the millions of rural poor in tropical countries who are dependent on trees. Trees provide important products such as fuel wood, building material, food and fodder. Moreover, trees provide important services such as shade, shelter, erosion control, watershed protection, soil enrichment, etc. As alternative sources disappear, rural people will increasingly have to plant trees on their own land to cover their needs for these products and services in the future. Adoption of agroforestry innovations can increase agricultural production on a sustainable basis and hence improve food security for rural people. (ICRAF, 2000). In that perspective alone, rural people would benefit from planting more trees. Lack of seed and seedlings constitute a serious constraint for smallholders to fully utilise the benefits of trees (ICRAF, 2000; Johansson & Westman, 1992; Aalbæk, 2001). Even when planting material is available, it is often insufficient with regard to choice of species or provenance as well as genetic and physiological quality. It is important to use quality tree planting material for several reasons. First, the physiological quality of seeds and seedlings affects the success of establishment and the subsequent growth rate of the plant. Second, genetic quality is of great economic consequence (Foster, Jones & Kjær, 1995). The chosen material should be selected to suit local conditions and should be of sufficient genetically broad origin to ensure the stability, e.g. resistance against pests and diseases of the planted trees. Using quality plant material is one important avenue to ensure that farmers and other tree planters will gain from planting trees. Improvements, even very small improvements, in the productivity of trees will often be of great importance, especially to subsistence farmers who have invested some of their scarce resources in planting trees (Kjaer & Nathan, 2000).



  1994.  Brief Guidelines for the Institutional Screening of Local Governments. :


Connerley, E;, Nathan I;, Schroeder L.  1989.  Bangladesh Rural and Feeder Roads Sector Assessment.

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