Decentalizing Institutions for Forest Conservation in Kenya: Comparative Analysis of Resource Conservation Outcomes Under National Park and Forest Reserve Regimes in the Mt. Elgon Forest Ecosystem

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"This study views decentralization of forest management as a continuum in which property rights to forest resources are transferred away from central governments or forest departments to local communities (Agrawal and Ostrom, 1999). We compare the rights user groups have to forest resources in the Mt. Elgon National Park with those of users in the Mt. Elgon Forest Reserve, and the incentives that each type of rights engenders towards forest resource conservation. We find that in the Forest Reserve, which in our construction represents a decentralized management, local community involvement in decision-making and in rule crafting and enforcement resulted in positive incentives for forest conservation. Forest condition in the Forest Reserve was found to be better than in the National Park. The National Park's policy of forbidding local consumptive use of resources and excluding local populations from making resource-related decisions, engendered animosity and considerable conflicts with the local populations. This created disincentives to local communities that are reflected in the condition of the forest. Decentralized decision-making, in this case, appears to be associated with better forest conservation outcomes."



IASC, common pool resources, forest management, mountain regions, regulation, forests--comparative analysis, Mt. Elgon, decentralization, community participation, IFRI