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Debborah Donnelly 4/19/2013
Forestry Management in Mali: Impacts on Local Communities
This paper will analyze the impacts of Forestry Management in Mali on local communities, by showing 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 resource management.
_____ Local Politics
The Mali that currently exists rose out of colonial intentions that greatly impacted the traditional way of life and of governance in West Africa. In an attempt to utilize village chiefs in managing local 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.1 Throughout the colonial period up to present day, village chiefs have been integrated into the State, but they do so as an administrative extension; and while that may appear to be inclusive, the electoral process is such that representatives are, “integrated into projects and decision-making powers as advisors…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,2 but because the chiefs do not necessarily reflect the wishes of the local population and are often placed in position by and accountable directly to the State3 and not to their community – does not necessarily mean that including them assures local participation. Rural Councils are the smallest units of rural government, and are elected to, “advise and assist the Sous-préfet4 on political and administrative matters...they are simply not autonomous decision making bodies.” (Ribot, 1999: 35) It is in light of this ‘local’ government that the interpretation of ‘decentralized’ resource management in Mali should be viewed.
‘Decentralized’ Forest Management
In 1994 Mali’s new forestry laws5 became decentralized, and assigned responsibility for forest management to ‘Local’ Government – called Decentralized Territorial Collectives, which gave them a forested domain within their territory, and the right to protect or conserve “part or all” of this land.6 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) 2 Ribot, 1999: 29 3 “In Mali, under the new laws of decentralization, village chiefs are selected by a village council elected by universal suffrage in each village, but from a list of candidates selected by the appointed state administrator at the level of the cercle.” (Ribot, 1999: 32) 4 The Sous-préfet is a central government administrator, appointed by the Minster of the Interior. 5 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 bush clearance in erosion-susceptible areas, along watercourses and around water points follow resource conservation measures. (Mali Biodiversity, 2008: 17) 6 Ribot, 1999: 39
wood fuel must establish a Structure Rurale de Gestion de Bois (Wood Management Structure), and propose a forestry management plan for approval by Local Government. As part of the plan, a quota must be established by agreement of both a representative from Local Government and a member of the (National) Forest Service. This is followed by payment of a forest exploitation tax prior to a cutting permit being issued. By including a member of the Local Government in the decision-making process this gives an opportunity for local interests to be considered, which in essence is a positive change. The previous process had the Forest Service making unilateral decisions on the issuing of permits to “whom, where and when it chose”.7 Ostensibly the Forest Service maintains control of the exploitation of forests through specified cutting privileges. In part this has been retained because the State assumes, “that exploitation cannot be entrusted to local population” and that, “the Sahelian ecology is fragile.” (Ribot, 1999: 41) Ribot delves into a discussion on benefits from these management plans, and rightly notes that opportunities for labour are often not realized locally, as these top-down government politicians and forestry merchants, can and often do elect to bring in migrant or urban workers from outside the woodcutting area.8 This was personally witnessed by me in northern Mali where workers from Bamako were trucked in to work in the north, where labour could easily have been obtained by the local populace. Another potential benefit for the rural community is from profits gained in wood-fuel markets through “access to transportation and urban trade.” While ‘potential’ remains the operative word, as Ribot (1999: 41) denotes that again the Forest Service has maintained tight control over transport permits which effectively prevents local participation in urban markets.9 So while it has given the appearance of inclusion of local authority in forestry management, the process by which local government has been designated and continues to be controlled by the State hinders the real ‘participation’ of the local population to a great degree. “‘Participatory’ and ‘community based’ forestry efforts of the last decade have not been able to dismantle a long tradition of forest management which separates rights and users into two distinct categories – commercial and subsistence. Under this separation, forest services and the elite typically gain the rights to harvest, transport and market commercially valuable forest products. Poor rural dwellers at best can access forest products with little or no commercial value under a system of usufruct rights.” (Ribot, 2001: 5) It is apparent that the set-up of local government does not necessarily translate into local participation. “The laws ostensibly designed to devolve power to local authorities and to ensure local community participation, may not do so.” (Ribot, 1999: 36)
Ribot, 1999: 40 Note, however that the Forest Service has, “maintained control over how much wood can be cut (via quotas and management plans).” 8 Ribot, 1999: 40 9 “The Forest Service also requires a tax to be paid before transport permits are given, which makes it difficult for small producers to transport wood, since they cannot afford to pay taxes in advance of selling their product.” (Ribot, 2001: 11)
When looking at decentralized management and access to resources, one can argue that the role of women in the process needs to be viewed separately because, “Women and other socially marginalized groups are likely to be most vulnerable to climate change because of the socially and politically driven lack of participation in decision making and access to power.” (Djoudi, et al, 2011: 126) It should be noted that under the current administration, albeit transitional, women’s representation in the National Assembly is less than 10%, and often completely absent at the local level.10 Because of cultural and social roles, Djoudi (2011: 128) notes that women and men, “tend to have different perceptions and preferences in using, managing and regulating ecosystems,” where men focus on “timber productivity” and women “often prefer trees with multiple uses because these trees offer more domestic and supplementary value (fuel, fodder and shade).” This significant difference in both use and preference implies the very real need to include women in future forestry management discussions. Independent research conducted by Agarwal (2009) also confirms this in that she presents evidence, “that local forest management groups with a high proportion of women in their principal decision making structure correlate with significantly greater improvements in forest condition.”11 The effects of both climate change and forestry management policies on women in Mali have had significant impacts on their vulnerability, presented by the following case study from Djoudi, et al (2011) from northern Mali, in the Lake Faguibine area (west of Timbuktu). The area is primarily used for pasture, and the rest is forested land use; forests having taken over the now mostly dry lake bed. Impacts were the result of major droughts in the 1970s and 80s, the rebellion of 1995-2003, as well as the drying out of the lake. These major stressors have required significant adaptation by the local communities, including a shift from a water-based livelihood (mainly fishing and agriculture) to one based on livestock and forestry, which have had key impacts on women’s daily work and social roles. Livestock herding and charcoal production are two examples of work that was conducted in the past exclusively by men, but which now fall under the purview of women’s responsibilities.12 Despite the change in role, “challenges related to land tenure and market access hinder women’s efforts to optimize their income as charcoal producers.” (Djoudi, et al, 2011: 130) While legally, women and men in Mali have equal property rights, “traditional practice and ignorance of the law prevented women - even educated women - from taking full advantage of their rights.”13 Because of the ecological transition from lake to forest, rights and tenure over the forest are still unclear. The lack of transparency and equity in regulating access has seen some political
Report on Human Rights (2006) Djoudi, et al (2011: 127) 12 Djoudi, et al (2011: 129) 13 Report on Human Rights (2006)
leaders take advantage of the situation to personally profit at the expense of the producer.14 “The land use conflicts and land tenure insecurity have a high potential for reducing the adaptive capacity for any community, especially the poor and women.” (Kalame, et al, 2008: 3) Despite the fact that charcoal production has become a female responsibility, because they lack personal and political networks, this has resulted in a general lack of access to permits, which makes them more vulnerable. As stated by Djoudi (2011: 131), “this leads us to question local government’s role in creating or hindering incentives for sustainable charcoal production as a part of an ecosystem based adaptation.”
Mali lies within the Sahel, which is a biogeographic zone that crosses the Northern part of Africa between the Sahara Desert and the more tropical savanna to the south. Because it is a transition zone from an exceedingly arid ecological area, the Sahel has traditionally been severely impacted by prior climatic extremes. There have been differing theories over the cause of major recent droughts in the Sahel which is the result of either human intervention (for example overgrazing and deforestation), or as a consequence of increasing ocean temperatures.15 The national forest of Mali covers 100 million hectares, on which only 21% have any real forest production.16 In total, from 1990 to 2010, Mali lost 11.2% of its forest cover or around 1,582,000 ha.17 This continuous degradation has been attributed as partially due to climate change, but also largely from unsustainable resource extraction.18 Amadou Kasambara, Head of Fuel Wood Supply Master Plans at AMADER states that, “In Mali, people consume nearly 6.5 million tons of fuel wood per year…and in terms of surface, logging costs the Malian forest nearly 500,000 hectares per year.”19 While adaptive change was considered forthcoming with the adoption of policies like the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), ratified by Mali in 200220 it has not been entirely effective. “Efforts at participatory rural development are often contradicted by political-administrative laws that systematically disable accountable local representation.” (Ribot, 1999:25) It is to be noted that existing government in Mali lacks policies on climate change, and therefore they are “insufficient and not up-to-date to deal with the present global climate change crisis.” (Kalame, et al, 2008: 2) It needs to be acknowledged however that, “evidence is growing that sustainably managed ecosystems are more effective than physical engineering structures for coping with climate change.” (Djoudi, et al, 2011: 124)
Djoudi, et al (2011: 130) Fields, A536 – quoting Isaac Held of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) 16 Mali Biodiversity, 2008: 33 17 Mali Forest Information and Data (2011) 18 Kalame, et al (2008: 3) 19 Mistermarknl (2012) 20 Status of Ratification of Kyoto Protocol – signed by Mali in 1999, ratified in 2002 and came into effect in 2005
In researching this paper it has become clear that Forestry Management in Mali is a complicated subject that on the surface has potential for vastly improving the lives of rural communities, yet unfortunately falls short of accomplishing this. The following statement by Ribot (1999: 28) that, “participation without locally accountable representation is simply not community participation,” provides a succinct description of the current state of affairs in Mali. There needs to be real and effective ‘local’ participation on resource management policies, including women. Climate change needs to be addressed because of the fragile nature of the Sahel, and that many in Mali are already vulnerable due to changes already occurring. And government policies and laws need to reflect and implement the adaptive capabilities that are already taking place by a population that has proven itself adept at change.
Agarwal, B. (2009) Gender and forest conservation: The impact of women’s participation in community forest governance. Ecological Economics 68, 2785-2799. Djoudi, H., Brockhaus, M. (2011) Is adaptation to climate change gender neutral? Lessons from communities dependent on livestock and forests in northern Mali. International Forestry Review, Vol. 13(2), 123-135. Fields, S. (2005) Continental Divide: Why Africa’s Climate Change Burden is Greater. Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 113, No. 8 (Aug. 2005), pp. A534-A537. Brogan & Partners. Kalame, F.B., Idinoba, M., Brockhaus, M., Nkem, J. (2008) Forest policies and forest resource flow in Burkina Faso, Ghana and Mali: conflicting or consistent for adaptation to climate change? TroFCCA Brief No.1. Bogor, Indonesia: Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Mali Biodiversity and Tropical Forests 118/119 Assessment. (2008) United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Mali Forest Information and Data (2011) Retrieved April 3, 2013 from http://rainforests.mongabay.com/deforestation/2000/Mali.htm Mistermarknl (2012, December 26) Sustainable Charcoal in Mali. Retrieved April 1, 2012, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXyfenP-QF0 Report on Human Rights Practices 2006: Mali. United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (6 March 2007). http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78745.htm Ribot, J. (1999) Decentralisation, participation and accountability in Sahelian forestry: legal instruments of political-administrative control. Africa, 69(1), 23-65. Ribot, J. (2001) Science, use rights and exclusion: a history of forestry in Francophone West Africa. International Institute for Environment and Develoment (IIED) http://pubs.iied.org/pdfs/9027IIED.pdf Status of Ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. Retrieved April 4, 2013, from http://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/status_of_ratification/items/2613.php
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