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Participatory forest management in conservation areas
The case of Cwebe, South Africa
South Africa, influenced by global trends towards good governance and sustainablenatural resource management, has begun to adopt a participatory managementapproach to state-owned indigenous forests. This study, in a remote communal areaand State Forest in the Eastern Cape, sought to understand the importance of forestproducts to local users, together with the relationships between key stakeholders andinstitutions involved in use and management of State Forest resources. The importanceof the Reserve in local peoples' livelihood strategies was clearly revealed but, in theabsence of a functional, locally legitimate management body, the Reserve is being overexploited, with local villagers and outsiders capitalizing on low forest rents and lack ofenforcement of rules. A de facto open access system is therefore in place. Intensiveinstitution-building is necessary for any participatory management system to besuccessful, including provisions to: transfer power to the community management bodyclearly and without ambiguity - if necessary, providing a role within it for the traditionalleadership; provide the community management body with adequate financial and otherresources; assist the community management body to draw up management plans;propagate and enforce regulations; and support the management body to enable it toprovide effective, acceptable monitoring of forest use and regulation.