Southern Forests: a Journal of Forest Science

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Communities’ perceptions of benefit-sharing mechanisms for forest-based land reform models in South Africa

Ratsodo Phillip Tshidzumba, Paxie W. Chirwa, Folaranmi D. Babalola


One of the dominant challenges facing the South African forestry sector is the issue of land restitution. The aim of this study was, therefore, to assess the perception of beneficiaries of benefit-sharing modalities for forest-based land reform initiatives in their locality. A random sampling technique selected 140 and 175 households in Amabomvini and Cata communities in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape provinces, respectively. The household beneficiaries showed a lack of knowledge of the criteria used for the disbursement of the benefits. In addition, over 70.0% of household beneficiaries in Amabomvini, compared with far less than 70.0% in Cata, preferred using rental income for infrastructure development in their respective communities. The results further showed that the relationship between the responses of the respondents from both Amabomvini and Cata communities regarding their perception on the existence of the criteria established to share the benefits, was statistically significant (χ² = 34.452, df = 4, p < 0.005). However, a lack of transparency, trust and greed were among the factors that household beneficiaries identified as the root causes to the poor benefit-sharing mechanisms. Therefore, it is recommended that there should be political will and commitment from government in order to ensure the development and strengthening of existing benefitsharing policies for the improvement of livelihoods of the land beneficiaries.

Keywords: benefit-sharing mechanisms, Communal Property Association, Community Trust, land reform

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