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Title: Evaluating failures in tropical forest management : incorporating local perspectives into global conservation strategies
Author: Latham, Julia E.
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2013
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Despite decades of varied conservation and management interventions, tropical forests remain one of the world’s most threatened biomes. Tropical forests directly support the livelihoods of millions of people in poverty through the provision of food and fuel, while also delivering vital ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration and watershed protection. Approaches to conserve and manage tropical forests have evolved in recent decades, reflecting an increasing appreciation for the multiple ecological, social and economic services they provide. However, growing appreciation for the multiple benefits of forests has arguably not been met with their growing realisation in practice. Indeed, it is becoming apparent that trade-offs in forest conservation and management are common, whereas ‘win-win’ outcomes for both development and conservation are rare. Despite this, emerging policies aimed at reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+) have harnessed international attention, given theoretical benefits not just for climate change mitigation, but biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation. For REDD+ to succeed where other policies arguably have failed, critical examination of existing tropical forest conservation and management policies is necessary to provide implementation recommendations. In this thesis I critically review the history of interventions to conserve and manage tropical forests (Chapter 2), and highlight three repeated failures in implementation that are common to all examined policies: low appreciation by management for the heterogeneity of target communities and dependence on forest resources; low levels of community inclusion and participation in management; and a continued deficit in clearly defined social and economic indicators of intervention success. To address these concerns I suggest examination of policy implementation at the local level is needed, with focus on what works where, for whom, and why, rather than what the ‘silver bullet’ for tropical forest conservation and management might be. Using a case-study approach in Tanzania, I examine the implementation of different management regimes, including strict protection and Participatory Forest Management (PFM), from the local socio-economic perspective. In the first empirical chapter (Chapter 3), I measure household awareness of the different forest management regimes in the study area using household questionnaire surveys. Results show that awareness of forest management and rules and regulations was clear, however confusion in the type of regime in place was apparent. Overall, awareness for top-down management structures was high, yet few households were engaged in rule formation of the PFM forests and none were aware of joint-management status. Findings indicate that forest management implementation must consider heterogeneity in villager awareness for management regimes, yet logistic regression models show this heterogeneity cannot necessarily be defined in a predictable way based on household socio-economic characteristics. Management implementation that focuses on transparent, uniform and consistent communication of information across whole forest- adjacent communities is therefore more likely to succeed. In the second empirical chapter (Chapter 4), I quantify household forest product use in the study area to examine the impact of forest access restrictions on household ability to meet firewood needs. Household perceived need for firewood was compared with quantity consumed to provide an indication of household firewood sufficiency. Results indicate management effectiveness is reflected by this measure of firewood sufficiency. Harvest from non-forest areas was found to significantly reduce firewood sufficiency, presenting concerns for household welfare and/or leakage of harvesting activities to other less-well protected forests in the area given a recent ban on firewood collection in a nearby National Park. Results of this chapter support suggestions that forest management adopt a landscape approach in planning, to account for local resource needs and avoid the negative impacts of leakage and detriment to local welfare. Finally, in Chapter 5 I use a qualitative approach to examine local perceptions of the challenges for forest protection, and compare these across stakeholder groups from the villager to management level. Issues that permeate the discourses are categorised into three themes: education, governance and forest dependency. The importance of each issue was found to vary by stakeholder group, identifying a disconnect and division in accountability for forest protection between villagers and management officials. Results suggest more novel approaches for social engagement and community inclusion in forest management are necessary. I suggest that facilitation of villager empowerment is needed for village institutions to be effectively accountable for forest protection, thereby aiding long term management success. Overall, the thesis shows that forest conservation and management interventions need to account for the perspectives and needs of local forest-adjacent communities. In Chapter 6, results are discussed in light of the three repeated failings of tropical forest conservation and management interventions, as outlined in Chapter 2. Results confirm these failings in implementation exist in the study area. As such, I suggest that the local socio-economic measures used in this thesis can be used in future evaluations of global tropical forest policy. Results also present important implications for emerging REDD+ policies, as limits to achieving the multiple benefits of climate change mitigation, biodiversity conservation, and poverty alleviation are identified.
Supervisor: Marshall, A. R. ; Cinderby, S. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available