Managing the Miombo woodlands of Southern Africa: policies, incentives and options for the rural poor

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Miombo woodlands cover vast areas of southern Africa. Of comparatively little interest for export-oriented commercial logging, they are part of a complex system of rural land use that integrates woodland management with crops and livestock. There is also evidence that woodland resources are extensively used for household consumption, greatly reducing the risk of households falling deeper into poverty as a result of environmental or economic stress. New opportunities for improving the management of miombo woodlands, with poverty mitigation in mind, suggest four policy options. First, communities are becoming more active in managing local natural resources, a result of decentralization and land reforms, which suggests that there may be good scope for strengthening related policy and legal frameworks and the measures to implement them. Second, new and integrated conservation-development approaches are emerging, which suggests possible scope for providing payments for environmental services to increase the value of managed woodlands. Third, markets throughout the region are developing and expanding, which suggests great scope for enhancing forest- based markets by removing restrictive legislation and by supporting local producers and forest enterprises. Fourth, all these opportunities suggest that public forest institutions can be revitalized by strengthening their service delivery orientations, with poverty mitigation as a main objective.

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