Evaluation of the sustainability of participatory management of forest plantations: the case study of Wari-Maro Forest Reserve, Republic of Benin
This study assessed ecological and socio-economic impacts of a participatory forest management project in the Republic of Benin. The study focused on the Wari-Maro Forest Reserve and the ‘Projet d’Aménagement des Massifs Forestiers’ five years after its completion. A forest inventory was carried out using 37 square plots of 729 m2 each to characterise the population structure of two types of plantations established: plantations with exotic species and plantations with native species. In addition, individual surveys were conducted with local households, organs of joint forest management and forestry officers to evaluate their perceptions about the participatory management of the plantations. Finally, the sustainability of the participatory management was assessed with an established rating system. Results showed that plantations with exotic species were more successful than plantations with native species. Local communities argued that they have not been involved in the plantations design but only in the implementation step and that their standards of living have decreased after the project completion. The rating system used showed that the participatory management of plantations had a short-term sustainability. The findings suggest that future projects should be designed and implemented with better participation of local communities as full partners.
Keywords: community livelihood, community participation, joint forest management, structural characterisation