Decentralization and Participation in Sahelian Forestry: Legal Instruments of Central Political- Administrative Control

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"Through forestry projects and policies in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Senegal, this article explores participatory development in its political-administrative context. The focus is on the legal-administrative instruments by which the State circumscribes control over forests--through control over local authorities and over the powers they are permitted to wield. Forestry laws tell only part of the story. This article therefore examines the ensemble of legal structures that impinge on who makes decisions over the disposition of forests, forest labor opportunities, forest market access and forest benefits.... "The research presented is based on fieldwork in the four case countries by the author in 1994. The article is divided into six sections. The first examines the role of the State in community participation. Second is a brief description of current institutions of rural representation. The third analyzes participatory forestry policies and projects in Burkina Faso and Mali. Section four is an analysis of the distribution of decision making powers and benefits from participatory forestry in all case countries. Section five compares participatory and colonial approaches. Section six concludes."



IASC, forest management, decentralization, participatory management, legal systems--case studies, Sahel