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Whose woods these are: Community-based forest management in Africa

by Portal Web Editor last modified Jan 10, 2013 09:11 AM
Contributors: USAID, John Heermans, Jonathon Otto

This review of CBNFM initiatives in sub-Saharan Africa considers those initiatives that evolved from early USAID investments in environmental and natural resource programs. The authors argue that the potential for CBFM projects in Africa remains untapped, as compared to Asia and Latin America. The document provides a summary of CBFM approaches that have proved successful, an overview of their impacts, and the conditions required to foster and sustain such efforts. The authors suggest that in the absence of comprehensive land use planning in most African countries, areas for CBFM can be prioritized by their likelihood of success using such criteria as quality of resources, access of markets and community interest in community forestry. Drawing from first generation CBFM projects in Niger, Benin, Ethiopia and Zambia, the authors outlined a systematic process of strengthening local institutions, developing a forest management plan, and implementing CBFM projects. The authors recommend the following to guide future CBNFM efforts in Africa: Secure legal recognition of citizens' rights to exploit forest resources; Strengthen community-based organizations; Improve local governance and relations between government and local communities; Invest in the planning process to get quality forest management plans; Develop management capacity of forest-based enterprises; Understand the market and costs involved in reaching it; Reduce recurrent costs of management for financial sustainability; Include involvement of foresters and NGOs from pre-investment through post-project; Make long-term commitments of external assistance;All things equal, larger forests offer economies of scale; Work with women and other marginalized groups (herders, for example).

Author(s): USAID , John Heermans , Jonathon Otto

Publication Date: 1999

Location: Africa

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