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Indigenous Common Property Resource Management in the Central Highlands of Ethiopia

By Zelealem Tefera Ashenafi and Nigel Leader-Williams


A better understanding of common property resource management systems and institutions is important for conservation and development, as fortress-based approaches towards conservation are increasingly questioned. This paper examines how an indigenous resource management system has operated and supported the protection of an Afro-alpine area in the Central Highlands of Ethiopia. The community was mainly concerned to regulate their own use of natural resources, including collection of firewood and thatch, and grazing by livestock. The original common property resource management system operated under a previously undescribed indigenous institution known as the Qero system, which was enforced through sanctions and punishments imposed by the community. The Qero system was suspended following the Agrarian Reform in 1975, which resulted in the breakdown of the traditional land tenure and land rights systems within Ethiopia. In the Central Highlands, user rights and management responsibility shifted to include formerly marginalized groups. Nevertheless, the common property management system has shown sufficient resilience to withstand these changes and pressures, and is still functioning with defined user groups and byelaws to regulate resource use and manage the area. Nevertheless, attitudes to current and future management are polarized between former and present managers of the common property regime

Topics: GE, GN
Publisher: Springer Netherlands
Year: 2005
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