Forestry Management in Mali: Impacts on Local Communities
This paper will analyze the impacts of Forestry Management in Mali on local communities, byshowing the effects of legal and political actions at the State Level, the effectiveness of‘decentralization’, and the role that women and climate change have played in resourcemanagement.
The Mali that currently exists rose out of colonial intentions that greatly impacted the traditionalway of life and of governance in West Africa. In an attempt to utilize village chiefs in managinglocal affairs, the French managed to ignore many of the traditions and experience of the people,and in fact largely hampered real local participation in the process.
Throughout the colonialperiod up to present day, village chiefs have been integrated into the State, but they do so as anadministrative extension; and while that may appear to be inclusive, the electoral process issuch that representatives are, “integrated into projects and decision-making powers asadvisors…rather than as empowered decision makers.” (Ribot, 1999:25)Participatory development and natural resource management projects generally rely on either‘village chiefs’ or ‘Rural Councils’ to represent the local population,
but because the chiefs donot necessarily reflect the wishes of the local population and are often placed in position by andaccountable directly to the State
and not to their community – does not necessarily mean thatincluding them assures local participation.Rural Councils are the smallest units of rural government, and are elected to, “
on political and administrative matters...they are simply not autonomousdecision making bodies.” (Ribot, 1999: 35)It is in light of this ‘local’ government that the interpretation of ‘decentralized’ resourcemanagement in Mali should be viewed.
‘Decentralized’ Forest Management
In 1994 Mali’s new forestry laws
became decentralized, and assigned responsibility for forestmanagement to ‘Local’ Government – called Decentralized Territorial Collectives, which gavethem a forested domain within their territory, and the right to protect or conserve “part or all” ofthis land.
Under these laws, anyone wishing to commercially utilize a portion of the domain for
“Under French colonial rule, Africans, such as cooks, translators, soldiers etc., could be made into chiefs, even if they were not from the region in which they were appointed.” (Ribot, 1999: 31)
Ribot, 1999: 29
“In Mali, under the new laws of decentralization, village chiefs are selected by a village council elected byuniversal suffrage in each village, but from a list of candidates selected by the appointed state administrator at thelevel of the cercle.” (Ribot, 1999: 32)
The Sous-préfet is a central government administrator, appointed by the Minster of the Interior.
Law No. 95-004 of December 1994 sets out the general conditions for conservation, protection, valorization of forestry resources in the national forestry domain, and defines protected zones. The law requires that bushclearance in erosion-susceptible areas, along watercourses and around water points follow resource conservationmeasures. (
, 2008: 17)
Ribot, 1999: 39