The Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies' (TES)
Volume 4, Number 2, December. 2005

ISSN 1602-2297

Politics of Participatory Forest Conservation: Cases from the
East Usambara Mountains, Tanzania

Heini Vihemäki
Institute of Development Studies, University of Helsinki

Abstract: This article explores the gap between formal institutions and actual practices of participatory approaches to forest conservation. Case studies conducted in Tanzania illustrate how the implementation of participatory conservation strategies is shaped by and shapes the power relationships between State and community actors. The present conservation strategies are formally “participatory”, but the actual functioning of forest control is affected by other factors, such as the economic and political interests of the actors involved, and the history of people-state relationships. The involvement of “local people” in forest conservation does not make it a smooth and apolitical process: power relations between various actors intervene in the processes, and make forest control a complex, fragmented and dynamic issue.

Keywords: Forest conservation, protected area management, participation, power, Tanzania

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