Institutionalisation of Community Participation And Sustainability in Governance of Community Forests
Perspectives from Zanzibar, Tanzania
Keywords:community participation, community forest management areas, forest resources, forest Governance, sustainability in governance
Tanzania, like many other tropical countries, has streamlined its environmental policies to institutionalise community participation and improve governance of community forests. The question is: to what extent has the governance of these forests improved as a result of the specified measures? The aim of this paper is to understand whether the institutionalisation of community participation through Community Forest Management Agreements (CoFMAs) guarantees sustainability in the governance of community forests in Zanzibar. Data for this paper were collected through structured interviews from 323 respondents in selected households, and complemented with in-depth interviews with 27 key informants (government officials, elders from the communities, local leaders and leaders of community conservation groups). The results show that the establishment of CoFMAs followed existing legislative frameworks to formalize community participation to ensure governance sustainability of community forests. However, the established conservation initiatives such as community participation in decision-making processes, benefit-sharing of forest resources, technological transfer, and community monitoring of forest resources have remained elusive as most of those initiatives have not been sustained overtime. Although CoFMAs have slightly improved community forest areas, illegal hunting of wildlife in and out of the conserved forests still remains a challenge. As such, the institutionalization of community participation under CoFMA cannot guarantee sustainability in the governance of community forest resources, unless it is community-led, and has access to reliable sources of income. Communities should, therefore, be facilitated with income-generating conservation projects, and/or establish reliable alternative sources of income to meet their needs to ensure sustainable governance of resources.