Coping with top-down institutional changes in forestry
In the past decade or so, international attention has focused on the plight of forests, resource degradation, declining biodiversity, and the impact of decreasing forest resources on the lives of many people. One effort to address this problem has been the promotion of institutional changes with the aim of ensuring sustainable forest management. Unfortunately, very little is known about the impact of these institutional changes on resource use and management, especially when the changes occur back and forth between centralization of government control and decentralization. While these institutional changes have resulted in the desired outcomes in some cases, the results have been catastrophic in other cases.
This doctoral dissertation research project sought to investigate the impact of back-and-forth policy changes, specifically decentralization and recentralization, on forest resources in Uganda and to assess how people respond to these changes. This study is particularly important because, although forest resources are very important to the lives of many people in Uganda, many of these resources are disappearing rapidly.
Drawing on survey data as well as in-depth case studies from eight forest-dwelling communities in Mpigi District, the dissertation project undertook a comparative study of how forests with different institutional arrangements fare under conditions of policy changes at the national level in Uganda. In the study, various data-analysis methods were utilized, including qualitative, quantitative, and a time-series analysis of land-use and land-cover changes—using remotely sensed satellite imagery of 1986 and 1995 TM and 2002 ETM+.
The results of the study support the hypothesis that institutions are important determinants of forest condition. The empirical evidence concludes that back-and-forth changes result in tenure insecurity, which ultimately makes individuals adopt coping mechanisms that can be detrimental to forest condition.
0615: Political science
0617: Public administration