Decentralization and Diversification in Forest Management Regimes in Tanzania: Case Study of Uluguru Nature Reserve and Ihanga Forest in Morogoro
In recent years in many African countries, including Tanzania, there has been a shift of paradigm from centralized and state driven forest management regimes to decentralized and people- centred forest management regime. The inception of a Tanzania forest policy of 1998 resulted in the institutionalization of community involvement in forest management and utilization. This process involves both decentralization in forest ownership and decentralization in responsibility for forest management. In respect to forest ownership, four basic types are recognized i.e. state, districts, community and private ownership. In respect to decentralization in forest management responsibility two specific processes are taken place, i.e. devolution of responsibility from the state to local communities resulting in Joint state-community forests management, and deconcentration of central state authority to district authority resulting in district forest management. These two processes of decentralization in forest management have been compared in respect to their specific characteristics.
This study explored and compared the main characteristics of joint state-community (Uluguru Nature Reserve - UNR) and the District forests management (Ihanga Forest Reserve - IDF) regarding principles and norms, rules and procedure, decision and benefits sharing. The study was guided by theoretical considerations in respect to the concepts of decentralization and forestry international financial supports, and assistance for income generating activities. This is often the case for these kinds of forest management regimes. On the other hand, the Ihanga scheme, like most district forest schemes, is lacking these opportunities. These forests are often used for income generation for the district authorities. This often creates conflicts with local communities, who are excluded from timber use and only can collect non-timber forest products.
The regime characteristics as found in the Uluguru Nature Reserve and the Ihanga district generally reflect the common characteristics of joint forest management schemes and district forest schemes respectively. The management arrangements in district forests often result in over-exploitation and forest degradation; in some cases they were even illegally converted to settlements or agricultural lands. In contrast, the management regimes in state forests jointly managed with local communities is often more successful. In these forest management regimes organisational issues such as decision making and law enforcement are relatively well organized with clear definition of rights, returns, responsibilities and adequate incentives. Hence, decentralisation of forest management by partial devolution of state responsibility to local communities has been more effective for stimulating sustainable forest management than bureaucratic decentralisation to district authorities.
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