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Patrimonial perceptions of local communities and forest management: Case of the Monogaga protected forest, Côte d?Ivoire

  • Ipou, J. I.
  • Kouakou, E. N.
  • Yao, C. Y.
  • Aké-Assi, E.

It is often assumed that forests can contribute to poverty reduction. To achieve this objective, different approaches to improve the governance and management of forests have been explored, including community forestry and other participatory arrangements for forest management. Sometimes conflicting approaches to land classification and land use by state forest authorities and local people can undermine the potential for forests to meet local needs and contribute to livelihoods and poverty reduction. In C&ocirc;te d&rsquo;Ivoire (Ivory Coast), parks, reserves, and protected forests are considered as national natural patrimony (heritage) to be conserved. Their management seldom involves the local communities who live around or inside them in a participatory approach. In the case of Monogaga, Sodefor (Soci&eacute;t&eacute; de D&eacute;veloppement des For&ecirc;ts), the official manager, decided to co-manage the forest with the Wanne people who live in the forest. After a period of conflict, the official manager, Sodefor, intended to apply a new management plan. But before doing this, the manager wished to understand why the Wanne people do not consider the forest as a heritage to conserve and transfer to their children. The present study addressed this question.<br /> <br /> Local communities recognized several spatial units in the Monogaga Forest: gbadu (swamp areas), kporo (&ldquo;black&rdquo; forest), teteklwoa (old fallow), and piti (young fallow). Lineage heads control and guarantee respect of the access rules to these units. Sodefor divided the forest into two zones. Each of them corresponds to a precise designation: one for agriculture and another for conservation. Based on the access rules of both managers (the local people and Sodefor) to the different units and their resources, the study showed disagreement between the perceptions of Sodefor concerning the organisation of activities and those of Wanne farmers. For Sodefor, the forest ecosystems constitute a national heritage to conserve. For farmers land is inalienable and some of its resources constitute the heritage (or inheritance) of the lineage. In the latter case, the use of land and resources obeys complex access rules. These traditional access rules to land and resources are still used in Monogaga. In its new management plan, Sodefor should include the lineage heads, who play an important role in these systems, in the structures of negotiations. Sodefor should take into account local communities&rsquo; perceptions of forests.

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    Proceedings: International Conference on Poverty Reduction and Forests, Bangkok,<br /> September 2007: http://www.recoftc.org/site/fileadmin/docs/Events/RRI_Conference/Proceedings/Paper_6_Adou_Yao_et_al.pdf