Protection of forest resources is one of the preconditions of receiving sustainable benefit from these resources, particularly in countries where forests are state-protected. For the purpose of ensuring an effective forest resources management, it is a must to have an idea about the characteristics of local people who have a close interaction with forests along with local people’s perspectives, suggestions and ideas concerning forests and state forestry organization. Based on a participatory approach, the aim of this study was to determine the characteristics such as education, age, length of residence, etc. of the forest villagers in Turkey and the relationship between their perspectives, suggestions and attitudes towards forests and forest protection practices. In this study, face-to-face survey was conducted amongst 385 people residing in 32 forest villages in the province of Artvin. The study concluded that highly educated people, young individuals, the ones who have not been residing for a long time in the village and the ones who have had a professional work experience in forestry works are more oriented to speak out the deficiencies and problems in forest protection system than those who are less educated, the elderly ones, the ones who have been living for a long time in the village and the ones who have never worked any forestry related jobs. They are convinced that state forestry organization is not successful enough in terms of forest protection. It has been detected that under-educated villagers in particular and the ones with low income were inclined to take illegal advantages of forests and thus, they have had legal conflicts with state forestry organization. In terms of managing and protecting state-owned forests, it has been understood that villagers are more willing to protect forest resources through a participative and cooperative approach together with state forestry organization instead of protecting, benefiting or managing forests by themselves.
Key words: Forest villager, forest protection, participation, Turkish state forestry organization.
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