Extensive experimental research has been devoted to the study of behaviour related to public goods, common-pool resources and other social dilemmas. In a majority of these studies, it is found that subjects tend to cooperate if they are allowed to communicate and make their own rules of use. In the context of the Forest Rights Act, 2006, a number of questions are being raised at public forums. Are communities capable of managing a valuable resource like a forest? Will transfer of authority not result in large-scale deforestation?

There has been much interest recently in promoting decentralization in the forestry sector in the belief that it would bring in downward accountability, which in turn would ensure economic efficiency, sustainability of the resource, and social and economic equity.