State forests and their implications 
for access and rights: Insights 
from Southern Africa

October 12, 2018

12:00 noon, UTC +2

South Africa

University of Cape Town

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Time information:

  • 12:00 noon, UTC +2

  • 12:00 noon presenter local time (Cape Town, South Africa)

  • 6:00 AM, moderator time (Amherst, MA, USA)

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  • Webinar ID:  802 507 505

This presentation interrogates the implications of state forests for local people’s access and rights from a southern African perspective. Access to forest resources under state control or tenure is one that is highly contested and marked by various forms of negotiations. State tenure over resources should be situated in broader dispossession emanating from colonial authorities’ forceful take-over of such resources from the purview of local people. Post-colonial authorities have not fundamental changed the tenurial arrangements obtaining over state forests. The continued dispossession of local people from forest resources controlled by the state then leads to these forms of negotiations. The first form witnessed is characterised by formal collaborative arrangements between the state and affected adjacent local communities or their representatives. This then leads to adjacent communities being given some formalised access to agreed resources. Most evidence to the state retaining greater say over such collaborative arrangements. Second the state retains complete control over access to resources leading to local people having very limited formal rights and often to a limited range of resources, such as collection of deadwood or fruits. Third, illegal access – in which people are forcefully negotiating access to resources that they are formally denied by state regime. In other words, the legitimacy of state control of resources is contested and manifests itself in ‘illegal’ access. The default solution often proffered by states is to develop co-management arrangements which provide access to resources but often fail to address the entrenched issue of land rights. Both access and rights need to be addressed at the same time to deal with colonial dispossession that has continued under post-colonial states.

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