Southern Forests: a Journal of Forest Science

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Nurturing forest resources in the Vhavenda community, South Africa: factors influencing non-compliance behaviour of local people to state conservation rules

Mulugheta G. Araia, Paxie W. Chirwa


This comparative study analysed the compliance behaviour of local communities towards culturally protected areas and state-protected indigenous forests. Interviews were conducted with 135 households from four villages. Data analysis was done using non-parametric tests. All villages did not significantly differ in the proportion of compliance behaviour in cultural protected areas (χ2(3) = 5.21; p = 0.15) and state-protected indigenous forests (χ2(3) = 5.10; p = 0.16). The majority of local people (76%) were compliers to the cultural protected areas. In contrast, the majority (73%) were non-compliers to the state-protected indigenous forests. Villages did not significantly differ in the distribution of perceived local values (χ2 = 6.77; df = 3; p = 0.08). On average, an individual holds about four perceived local values (x– = 3.89, SD = 2.35) out of the seven perceived local values. The highest motive for conservation were the need to protect forest and trees of outstanding utility values (79%), watershed protection (73%), cultural values (61%), endangered species (n = 78(58%), and wildlife habitat (51%). About 50% of local people perceived the decline of state-protected indigenous forest cover. About 90% showed a willingness to take part in conservation. There was no consensus on the strength of enforcement of rules over the last 20 years (χ2(1) = 0.67; p = 0.796). The regression model (χ2 = 50.304; df = 7, p = 0.00, R2 = 45.5%) revealed that individuals who held fewer perceived local values, perceived negative impact and weaker rules were mostly likely to be non-compliers. People’s experiential knowledge might have triggered intention for conservation, but did not influence compliance behaviour. We suggest that state-protected indigenous forests become more vulnerable to non-compliance when the necessity of resources for rural livelihood arise due to misalignment of the rules to local values, social norms and taboos. This can be addressed through inclusive policy reviews to reconcile diverse values and norms and through genuine co-management arrangement.

Keywords: culturally protected area, experiential ecological knowledge, non-compliance behaviour, perceived legitimacy, perceived local values, state-protected indigenous forests

Southern Forests 2019, 81(4): 357–36

AJOL African Journals Online