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Management Schemes and Resource Access in Multiple-Use Forests in the Congo Basin

By Nathan Clay


With this master’s thesis, I attempt to hone in on the notion of resource governance across scales and through time. I use three complementary and interlinked frameworks in effort to address the complexity of multi-functional forests in an era of heightened global connectivity, recognizing that current interventions are intimately tied to myriad entities and socio-ecological processes as well as historical contexts of these processes. In detailing how processes of governance draw from and shape systems of forest and wildlife ecology, and how those systems in turn shape governance strategies, I aim to begin to depict the interrelationship between humans and the Congo Basin environment in the form of a natural history. Part I depicts the schematic of hybrid resource governance that is designed to implement regionwide ecosystem scale conservation. I focus on socio-ecological system of broadleaf evergreen moist forests in Southeastern Cameroon. There, an influx of transnational actors including timber companies, safari hunting operations, and conservationist NGOs has been shaping the landscape over the past twenty years with resource-use zones and management plans that delimit the terms of partnerships, especially user rights and responsibilities. Based on interviews with a range of actors and analysis of management plans, I examine how local knowledge and decision making power factors into forest management. Part II focuses on how resource access for local-level forest users are shaped by schemes of hybrid governance in multiple-use forests. It also identifies some potential drivers of agricultural transition and discusses the implications of the current forest zoning and management schemes on biodiversity. It begins with a literature review about land-use in the Congo Basin and drivers of agricultural conversion. Focus group and individual interviews with people in five villages The ecological outcomes of resource-use zoning are discussed in terms of landscape ecology, on which rests the tenets of the ecosystem-scale approach to conservation. This paper is thus an attempt to begin to connect spatial analysis with ethnographic methods. Part III focuses on the process of designing management plans, discussing the plans themselves as ‘boundary objects’—focal points where multiple agendas and cultural conceptions come together in order for people from multiple social worlds to attempt to cooperate. I discuss the plans and their ensuing spatial organizations and delimitations of tasks as intimate spaces where myriad knowledges converge. Using the case study of interactions between various actors at various scales I examine how forests are becoming spaces of increasingly intimate linkages that transform resource use patterns and governance strategies, which are themselves important factors shaping the socio-ecological landscape. Drawing largely on frameworks of critical political ecology, discourse analysis and science and technology studies, this paper attempts to engage with environmental and institutional/cultural change as deeply entangled processes. Although each of these papers is meant to stand on its own, with a discrete argument, the themes and contexts overlap extensively. Each paper presents a unique perspectiv

Topics: Congo Basin, Forest
Year: 2011
OAI identifier: oai:deepblue.lib.umich.edu:2027.42/86072
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