Community based natural resources management in Mozambique: a theoretical or practical strategy for local sustainable development?: the case study of Derre Forest Reserve

Community based natural resources management in Mozambique: a theoretical or practical strategy for local sustainable development?: the case study of Derre Forest Reserve

Governing natural resources in Mozambique: the consequences of community management for the poor

What does community based natural resource management (CBNRM) mean for Mozambique's poor?

Through the case study of Derre Forest Reserve in Zambezia province, this paper explores the theory and practice of CBNRM, an approach which has been widely promoted in southern Africa, and is central to elements of the Mozambican forestry and wildlife policy of 1999.

The paper examines the history of community involvement in forest use in the reserve, and the changing nature of local organisations. It asks whether CBNRM:

  • devolves control over the resources to users
  • ensures users participation in the design and implementation of policies and development initiatives
  • leads to the adoption of sustainable use practices and control by those who use the resources
  • leads to exercising democracy at lower levels
  • keeps away elites, or whether they are able to hijack the powers
  • results in different actors interacting differently in the process

The paper finds that:

  • any major impact of CBNRM in improving livelihoods of the people is still a myth
  • the process and pace of CBNRM is too slow to produce any short-term significant impact
  • overcoming the constraints of the very limited rights in protected areas has to be achieved before the Derre community can expect any gains from participating in a CBNRM system
  • there is a danger that devolution of power will be to the wrong level and to an unrepresentative entity, as local elites can easily hijack the process
  • one route to increasing the benefits to local people has been the through joint ventures with private sector players, though the experience has been mixed, as has the functioning of local organisations
  • the degree to which the emerging organisational arrangements are legitimate and inclusionary is questionable, as membership fees potentially exclude many poorer community members

The paper concludes that:

  • rights must be secured in an area of primary state jurisdiction
  • the community must become aware of their rights under the Forestry and Wildlife and Land laws in order to take the lead in forming an institution that truly represents them
  • financially viable enterprises should be adopted in order to ensure long-term investment
  • there are some policy gaps that have to be looked at regarding the rights of access for communities living in and around protected areas
  • a rural development approach has to be adopted in order to change the household economy in Derre
  • the issue of community representation has to be resolved and the beneficiaries of income-generating activities should not be restricted to the members of the association
  • adequate land use planning is essential to avoid implementation of conflicting land uses such as harvesting forests for wood or for expansion of agricultural practices for cash crops and bee keeping
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