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Institutional and Livelihood Changes in East African Forest Landscapes

Decentralization and Institutional Change for Sustainable Forest Management in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia

Edited By Franz Gatzweiler

This book presents research articles and essays which analyze the consequences of decentralization on forest conditions and livelihoods in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia. Authors from the East African collaborative research centers of the International Forestry Resources and Institutions (IFRI) Research Program demonstrate that the institutional changes resulting from decentralization create costs for those who need to re-institutionalize and re-organize the management of forest and land resources. This requires investment into information, communication, education and into the re-building of social capital. Cases in which collective action has worked and contributed to improving livelihoods and forest conditions can be exemplary, while failures can be equally useful for learning about East Africa and beyond.

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Chapter 12 Towards Adaptation: From Indigenous Management Systems to Decentralized Forest Governance: Emily Obonyo and Jephine A. Mogoi

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207 Chapter 12 Towards Adaptation: From Indigenous Management Systems to Decentralized Forest Governance Emily Obonyo and Jephine A. Mogoi 12.1 Abstract Culture and indigenous knowledge play an important role in forest conservation and management. Forests in Kenya with strong cultural institutions have ensured their existence despite threats over destruction. For some communities, cultural forests are regarded as temples of God as they are a manifestation of the spiritual powers of deities and departed ancestors. Harvesting of products in these forests therefore was largely controlled by strong beliefs, norms, regulations and strict codes of enforcement. This chapter is based on a case study conducted in Mau and Ramogi forests, which historically had the presence of strong traditional institutions but are undergoing transition due to changes in the country’s forest management policies. Using methods developed by the International Forestry Resources and Institutions (http://www.sitemaker.umich.edu/ifri/home) and participatory approaches, this chapter attempts to show the link between tradi- tional management institutions and the wise use of forest resources through ex- amining the contribution of these management systems to forest governance. The findings indicate that the legitimacy of some these institutions has weakened due to weak and conflicting government policies leading to widespread degradation of the forests. The new Forest Act introduced in 2007 (GoK, 2007) has given opportunities to communities to practice self-governance and create institutions best suited to their needs. 12.2 Introduction There are many traditional resource management practices that have proved to maintain biodiversity and socio-ecological systems (Gadgil and Berkes, 1991) and...

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