The Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies' (TES)
Volume 6, Number 1, 2007

ISSN 1602-2297

On the Promises of Devolution: Overcoming the Constraints of Natural Resource Management in a Village in Tanzania

Iben Nathan
Forest & Landscape Denmark, Copenhagen University, Rolighedsvej 23, 1958 Frederiksberg C,

Jens Friis Lund
Forest & Landscape Denmark, Copenhagen University, Rolighedsvej 23, 1958 Frederiksberg C

Quentin Gausset
Institute of Anthropology, Copenhagen University, Øster Farimagsgade 5, 1353 Copenhagen K,

Susanne Koch Andersen
Munksøgård 7, 4000 Roskilde. E-mail:

Abstract: This article is concerned with the hypothesis that devolution, understood as entrusting local government with significant domains of autonomous discretionary power, will lead to the equitable and efficient management of natural resources. The paper focuses on the three domains of power conceived by some theorists as critical in the management of natural resources, namely making rules, implementing rules, and resolving disputes in relation to these rules. Based on a case study of a village in Tanzania, the article identifies some of the main constraints the village council encounters concerning the efficient and equitable management of common lands, and discusses whether devolution is the solution for overcoming these constraints. It is concluded that the role and functions of higher levels of government in decentralised natural resource management are essential and require due consideration beyond the point of arguing for more autonomy to local government.

Key words: Devolution, Natural Resource Management, Forest, Common Lands, Tanzania

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