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Interface Between Research, Development and Local Actors in Enhancing Sustainable Forest Resources Management: Lessons from Chimanimani District, Zimbabwe
Environmental sustainability is a key area of focus in academic and development circles mainly because of the role that the environment plays in sustaining livelihoods. For sustainable environmental stewardship to occur in areas such as forest, land and water management, it is generally accepted that different actors must interface. This paper analyses the interface that took place between academic researchers, development practitioners, district institutional actors and local communities in a project that aimed at enhancing forest resources management in Chimanimani district of Zimbabwe. The paper notes that in order to involve and accommodate the interests of the various actors, methodologies used included quantitative and qualitative action research strategies as well as participatory geographic information systems approach. The project analysed the state of forest resources, impact of human migrations on forests, contribution of forest resources to livelihoods, and related governance systems. This enabled all the actors involved to devise strategies aimed at enhancing sustainable forest resources management through the formation and strengthening of appropriate local institutions, legislation awareness, and enhancement of livelihood activities based on exploitation of forest resources. The paper concludes by stressing that the social interface of different actors, though complex, is not only necessary but crucial in enhancing sustainable forest management.