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Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Human Geography.
2011 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The literature on the weaknesses of inclusive forest management in Africa abounds. Local African farmers are generally portrayed as the major force behind the clearing of millions of hectares of forest biomes through their shifted cultivation and traditional slash-and-burn methods of farming. However, very few attempts have been made to explain this reported deforestation in a multi-conceptual manner that explains forests and humans as inherently interconnected. If a forest forms parts of the intricate day-to-day lives of people, as research has proven then its ecology must be explained hand-in-hand with the human systems of those depending on it. Political ecology offers this endeavour.

        With a combination of aerial photographs and local farmers’ narratives, research has questioned and challenged conventional views on the agents of the continent’s deforestation.

This thesis aimed among other things, at contributing to literature on the causes of deforestation in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, this thesis hoped to investigate such important issues as the complex evolution between (scientific) knowledge and policy as well as the ensuing discourses sustaining such policies. Findings from an interview study with stakeholders of Southern Bakundu Forest Reserve in Cameroon suggest a precautionary reading and understanding of development issues on the African continent. Evidence here suggests that local farmers are neither completely exonerated from the blames of massive deforestation nor are their farming methods completely counter to forest production and re-growth. The actions of resource users are the result of weighing between complex strategies such as means of subsistence, on the one hand, and subscribing to the regulations of the resource regime, on the other hand, in the dawn of a forest policy that was planned, drawn and implemented without serious considerations to their livelihoods systems.

    The thesis concludes with a recommendation that while it is necessary that forest-dependent people’s needs be taken into consideration during the drafting of development policies that may alter their ways of living, research on Africa’s deforestation should cease from being biased and polarizing, especially if it intends to inform policy and behaviour. It also suggests that policy makers pay closer attention not only to ways of ameliorating monitoring activities, but most importantly, they should focus on better, alternative methods that guarantee livelihoods and at the same time protect forest resources. Since the provision of material and financial incentives have proven to keep farmers away from acquiring more farmlands, such initiatives should be encouraged on a large and long-term scale.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Deforestation, resource users, global discourses, political ecology, local perspectives, received wisdoms, Southern Bakundu Forest Reserve, Semi-structured Interview, and 1994 Forest Law.
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-54728OAI: diva2:397330
Social and Behavioural Science, Law
Available from: 2011-03-07 Created: 2011-02-14 Last updated: 2011-03-07Bibliographically approved

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