Compromised Co-management, Compromised Outcomes: Experiences from a Zimbabwean Forest

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"Zimbabwe embarked on decentralization of forestry resources after the 'success' ofdevolved management of wildlife through the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE). This paper looks at theoutcomes of the introduction of co-management in the Mafungautsi Forest in Zimbabwe. Decentralization through co-management introduced new institutional arrangements, which have resulted in a shift of the power loci and relationships. Co-management in the Mafungautsi has not devolved meaningful powers to the newinstitutions. This has meant that the new institutions are upwardly accountable to the forestry department than they are towards their constituencies - whose interests they are supposed to advance. In the Mafungautsi, this has resulted in negative environmental, social, economic and ecological outcomes. Having realized that co- management was not meeting their needs, the local actors resolved to use the various weapons at their disposal to counter the powers of the forest department. These tools in the Mafungautsi have included arson, increased poaching and the starting of fires in the forest area. The results from the Mafungautsi case study in Zimbabwe demonstrate that decentralization, which establishes institutions that are upwardly accountable to the centre, is more likely to result in negative environmental outcomes."
IASC, forest management--case studies, co-management--case studies, decentralization, conservation, devolution, accountability