The evolving forestry context in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe
Major changes in forest policy in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe have introduced co-management of forests whereby the state forest organisations co-operate with the rural populations, who depend on forests for their livelihoods, with the object of ensuring forests are suitably managed. There is the additional aim of the privatising timber production and large-scale timber processing. To determine the driving forces (the influences that stakeholders have/have had) behind these changes and how effectively (the magnitude of the result) and efficiently (the cost of achieving the result) they have been implemented, a quantitatively study was undertaken by means of conducting structured questionnaires and semi structured interviews. A posteriori factors behind this policy shift include the direct, indirect and combined influence of donor agencies and NGOs, the introduction of multi-party democracy, population increases that have put increased pressure on forests and the failure of previous polices. However, factors are difficult to prove because of the nature of forest policy and the complexity of the interaction between the different forces at play, particularly with regard to donor agencies, and therefore findings are inconclusive. As would be expected with implementing such dramatic changes in forestry policy, numerous problems have been encountered. Institutional blockages have occurred due to a lack of appropriate training, extension as well as research; weak property rights have discouraged long-term investments in forests; tribal laws have conflicted with state laws; and there has been a failure to develop agreed systems of sharing rewards from and responsibilities for the forest areas being co-managed. None of this has been helped by the total inadequacy of the finance made available and the very poor cross sectoral communications. Many of these impediments were anticipated by the policy makers and attempts were made to overcome them. However some impediments to policy implementation have to be recognised as being outwith the control of state forest organisations, in particular the side effects of Structural Adjustment Loans which have lead to increased levels of deforestation and reduced staff levels and budgets for state forest organisations.