Managing intervention for the sustainable development of the natural forest : an East African perspective
This study develops and tests a method of intervention designed to incorporate the concept of sustainable development into management strategies for the natural tropical forest, in the particular case of forest exploitation by small-scale local sawmilling enterprises. Sustainable development is defined as a development process that satisfies jointly the goals of the biological, social and economic spheres of forest management. A review of orthodox management strategies suggested that they focus on maximizing benefits in only one or two of these spheres, and are inadequate to address the requirements of truly sustainable development. The stakeholder concept, adapted from modern corporate management theory, was identified as one model with the potential to satisfy the requirements of sustainable development. A management strategy based on stakeholder theory, termed the Integrated Management Approach (IMA), was developed for the case of locally-developed sawmilling enterprises dependent on the natural forest. The IMA is an iterative process based on the following steps: (1) the definition of criteria and the collection of information to describe the system as it was intended to operate (i.e., the Technical Limit of the operation) and as the enterprise is found at the time of initial intervention (i.e., the Benchmark Situation of the enterprise); (2) development of Negotiation Aims, based on the information collected, according to which the enterprise can progress towards the Technical Limits necessary for sustainable development; (3) identification of stakeholders and (4) their stakes in the enterprise; (5) assessment of stakeholder satisfaction, and negotiation from that basis towards the Negotiation Aims; (6) monitoring and iteration as necessary. Three East African sawmill enterprises were used as case studies to develop and test the IMA. The case studies exhibit many of the social, economic and biological conditions which have hindered successful implementation of traditional management systems to the natural tropical forest. The outcomes of the IMA process for each case study were compared in terms of the rating accorded criteria for each sphere and across spheres, and of the participation and satisfaction of stakeholders. In general, all parameters increased with successive iterations of the IMA, although a major change of attitude by one of the key stakeholders in the final iteration for one enterprise reversed many of the gains previously made, thereby demonstrating one of the limitations of the strategy. The results of this study suggest that the IMA has considerable potential to progress the objective of sustainable development for the case of local sawmilling enterprises operating under frontier conditions. They also suggest that the IMA should be applicable more generally, in facilitating sustainable development for a variety of enterprises based on natural resource use.