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An assessment of community based management of forest resources: a Malawi case study

Kunje, M. B. (2018) An assessment of community based management of forest resources: a Malawi case study. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Recently, approaches to natural resource management emphasize the importance of involving communities and institutions to build capacity, limit costs, and achieve environmental sustainability. Many developing countries have policy reforms and devolution programs allowing greater involvement of local communities to manage natural resources. However, implementation of these policies has many challenges which include unaccountable representatives, limited transfer of power and benefits. This study investigates how Local Forest Organizations (LFO) uses their devolved powers and responsibilities to manage resources on behalf of the people they represent. The principal focus of this thesis is an examination of the nature of institutional decision making at the communal level of forest management in Malawi. The conceptual frameworks and theoretical underpinnings used were the common pool resource theory, institutions, and governance concepts. Both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods were used in this study. Results show that 'bottom-up' approaches are an effective way to manage forest resources. 67% of the sampled LFOs manage and protect forest resources on customary land effectively and sustainably. Effective and sustainable LFOs are inclusive in their operations, have appropriate governance structures and receive support from traditional leaders. A number of Village Forest Areas (VFAs) have been established to promote regeneration and conservation of a variety oftree species which when managed properly will provide future livelihood security. The study observed that Indigenous Forest Management (IFM) has diffused to new members through community interactions and incentives for VF A Management. However, the mechanisms of transferring decision making powers as stated in the forestry policy are prohibitive in the sense that developed forest management plans (FMPs) have to go through a long approval process to become a Forest Management Agreement (FMA) hence, no FMA has been signed in the study area. The, LFOs could be supported to formulate FMP and enter FMA to effectively manage the VF As. Secondly, forestry based enterprises did not materialize as anticipated due to limited partnership between Non-Governmental Organizations and VNRMCs/LFOs. Absence of NGOs to support the effort of LFOs in the VF A management threatens the long-term sustainability of LFOs. The Forestry Department and NGOs need to adequately support community initiatives in capacity building, finance and provision of incentives. Forestry extension workers could be provided with the necessary skills and financial support to facilitate forestry activities.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Boyd, E. and Griffiths, G.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Archaeology, Geography & Environmental Science
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:78985

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