Appraisal of the participatory forest management program in southern Burkina Faso
Sammanfattning: In many developing countries there has been a paradigm shift in forest conservation and management strategies, away from State-centred control towards community-based schemes, with twin goals of fostering sustainable forest management and reducing poverty. In Burkina Faso, various policy reforms have been introduced and attempts have been made to devolve use and management rights to local communities since the 1980s. However, it remains questionable whether communities’ participation has yielded the intended improvements in livelihood and good governance. With the aims of providing a platform for developing strategies that promote sustainable forest management, the studies this thesis is based upon examined the participatory forest management program (PFM) in southern Burkina Faso in terms of people’s access to forest products, members’ participation, their perceptions of the program, and challenges associated with early stages of political decentralization. Quantitative and qualitative data were gathered through household surveys, focus group discussions and literature reviews. The results show that factors related to decision-making, forest conservation and economic benefits are the most important determinants of participation. Further, the determinants of access to forest resources differed among households, thus local management institutions need to take these variations into account to ensure that the livelihood needs of the poor are met. Despite the decentralization policy in force in the country since 1992, the State Forest Service is still heavily involved in the decision-making process. This considerably limits the active participation of local people. The results also show that, to some extent, participation in forest management activities is influenced by gender, household size, land tenure status, marital status, and forest legislation and implementation of forest laws and regulations. The performance of the PFM groups was found to vary, depending on their proximity to roads and market. Members’ perceptions of the PFM seem to focus on their ability to generate income to support their livelihood, while less emphasis is placed on forest conservation. To enhance the outcome of the forest management program, the following strategies could be considered: securing user rights and empowering forest users by promoting the direct involvement of vulnerable and marginalized groups (women and migrants), increasing participation incentives, and enforcing the decentralization measures after addressing the challenges to enhance good governance and ensure equitable benefit-sharing.
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