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Decentralised Governance of Forest Resources: Analysing Devotion Policy Processes and Their Effects on Decision Making in Communal Forest Management in Malawi

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Kamoto, J. F.; Dorward, P. T.; Shepherd, D. D.
Conference: Governing Shared Resources: Connecting Local Experience to Global Challenges, the Twelfth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Commons
Location: Cheltenham, England
Conf. Date: July 14-18, 2008
Date: 2008
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/2184
Sector: Forestry
Social Organization
Region: Africa
Subject(s): community forestry
policy analysis
forest management
Abstract: "Devolution policies in Africa are a recent development and are characterised by state driven devolution where government policies frequently define the scope of local authority in forest management. The paper looks at the forest devolution policy process in Malawi. First, it describes the historical development of forest policies and shows how different actors, with different knowledge bases and power, shaped the past centralised policies and present devolution policies. Second, the paper outlines the forest devolution policy and assesses whether the devolution policy has achieved effective decision making in communal forest management. The paper provides an example of devolved forest management policies that did not take into account the realities on the ground during their formulation. "The findings show that multiple actors both internal and external have exerted their influence and power in the development process. Limited local realities were considered in the development of forest devolution policies. The less powerful villagers involved in community forest management were not engaged in either policy formulation or subsequent improvements based on their past and present implementation experiences. While institutions and structures were set up in the devolution policy to 'serve' local people on the ground, in reality they remained an extension of central government control. The reasons being that the policy process had limited consultation with end users, ignored the role of traditional leadership, superimposed new structures, and set long and slow requirements for forest management planning for local communities to attain legal authority over forests. Local people and traditional structures have been marginalised and have not benefited fully from the intended policy objectives. However the number of village forest areas has increased since the implementation of the devolution policy. The paper provides an example of how well intended development process of devolution policies has had limited success for the local people."

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