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Managing Conflicts for Sustainable Forest Management: Lessons from Mafungautsi Forest, in Gokwe Communal Area, Zimbabwe

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Mutimukuru, Tendayi
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Global Transition: Challenges, Risks and Opportunities, the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Oaxaca, Mexico
Conf. Date: August 9-13
Date: 2004
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/875
Sector: Forestry
Social Organization
Region: Africa
Subject(s): IASC
forest management
conflict resolution
joint management
protected areas
Abstract: "Historically, management of public resources such as forests has been the role of the state and its various agencies without any participation by local people. This top-down way of management. has, however been recently criticized by proponents of people-oriented approaches, who believe. that sustainable management can only be achieved if local people are directly involved in the. management of their resources. However, so far, people-oriented approaches have not resulted in sustainable forest management and the improvement of human well-being and one of the many reasons cited by some researchers is the failure to deal with conflicts that arise among stakeholders in joint management efforts. Such conflicts arise because multiple stakeholders in joint management initiatives have different beliefs, values and interests. This paper focuses on identifying the conflicts that arise among stakeholders in joint forest management situations and how these can be resolved to enhance sustainable resource management. The paper argues that identifying and resolving conflicts enhances learning among stakeholders and leads to better management strategies for the forest resource. The research was qualitative in nature and made use of Participatory Rural Appraisal techniques for data collection. The main conflict resolution mechanism used during the workshops held was principled negotiations. The main findings of the research are that several conflicts arise in forest management and these can be classified in two broad categories, internal and external conflicts. Internal conflicts were those happening within the community and were related to resource boundaries and theft of resources, fire management, leadership, and incentives for the Resource Management Committees to work. External conflicts were those between local communities and outside stakeholders and are related to boundaries, fire management, access to resources in forest and the perception of the role of the forest by stakeholders. The other finding of the research was that three main mechanisms have been used to resolve external conflicts, namely, suppressing conflict (ignoring that conflicts exist), use of. force and litigation. In all cases, these mechanisms were unsuccessful in resolving the conflicts. The major lessons of the study are that: (a) Managing conflicts enhances learning processes that result in better resource management by stakeholders, (b) conflict management should not be a once of thing for conflicts will continue to arise in resource management situations, (c) empowering stakeholders who feel powerless promotes conflict resolution processes, and, finally, (d) in situations were communication by stakeholders is not completely broken, principled. negotiations are effective in resolving conflicts. However, some facilitation will be required during the initial phase of the negotiation process."

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