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Record number 1756534
Title Transgressing boundaries : gendered spaces, species and indigenous forest management in Uganda
show extra info.
Gorettie Nsubuga Nabanoga K.
Author(s) Nabanoga K., G.N.
Publisher [S.l. : s.n.]
Publication year 2005
Description 227 p
Description 1 online resource (227 p)
Notes Met lit. opg. - Met samenvatting in het Engels en Nederlandsshow all notes
Proefschrift Wageningen
Ook verschenen als handelsuitgave
ISBN 9085041600
Tutors Howard, Prof. Dr. P. ; Wiersum, Dr. K.F.
Graduation date 2005-04-13
Dissertation no. 3721
Author abstract show abstract
Keywords:Forestlandscapes, community forest management, indigenous forest management, gender, livelihoods, land tenure, tree tenure.

Forestresource access is often conceptualized as a 'bundle of rights' held by different social groups at different times. In Uganda, similar to other parts of the world, professional foresters and scientists concerned with resource conservation have conceived of forests mainly in terms of access rights that are formalized through legal boundaries based upon a strong notion of property (especially State and private) This study argues that local people's access to forest resources is not only based on such formal bundles of legal rights, but also entails local norms and 'morals' that regulate access to land and other forest resources. Such 'bundles of rights' or 'powers' are embedded within specific cultural social, political and economic contexts and are related to intra-community and intra-household power relations, and particularly to gender relations.

The most important 'bundle of rights' to resources is usually considered to be that relating to land, where it is widely recognised that legal ( de jure ) and customary (often de facto ) tenure may differ significantly. However, it is less often recognized that other land-based resources such as plants, trees, crops or pastures may have their own 'tenure', separate from any rights in land that may exist, and that the bundle of associated 'rights' may also be held de jure or de facto . While the concept of 'tree tenure' has constituted part of the forester's conceptual toolkit for the past few decades, it is far less commonly recognized that rights often extend to other wild or domesticated plants as well. Such rights are not only related to trees and plants growing in official forest reserves where the State restricts access, but also to trees and plants growing on communal or private land. Further, the relationship between land tenure and 'plant' or 'tree tenure' is not always straightforward - trees and plants may belong wholly to the owners of the land, or they may belong entirely or in part to others. The various tenure regimes often exist in parallel and may overlap in relation to different individuals, groups, spaces and species. The rights to own land and the rights to specific landscape spaces, the rights to own trees and plants and the rights to tree and plant products, may be distinct from each other and may be conferred on different social groups, depending on factors such as final use of plant products, individual competency, age and sex. Further, such rights may depend upon management practices carried out by individuals that act as obligations to ensure continuity of rights over time. Most often, such 'bundles of rights' are not only prescribed in formal legal or customary rules: they are as well shaped by cosmologies, cultural norms and daily practices, and while their existence may be difficult for outsiders to detect and their effects may apparently be subtle, local community members are quite aware of them, generally attempt to respect them, and are also cognisant of the existence of sanctions (spiritual or human) should these rules or norms be violated.

The most important feature of the 'bundle of rights' that characterizes local forest resource access and management is the variation between different groups of local people regarding access to and use of forest resources. This intra- and inter-community variation not only relates to household variables such as wealth, education, livelihood activities and landholding, but also to intra-household variables such as age, kin relations and sex.

The goal of this research was to clarify how access, use and local management of plant and tree resources within forested landscapes are gendered and which factors condition these relations. More specifically, the study aimed at:

·       Investigating how socio-economic and cultural characteristics of local populations condition forest resource dependencies, and how such dependencies condition the use and management of plant resources in forested landscapes;

·       Analyzing how and why access, use, and management of tree and plant species that occur in different landscape spaces are gendered, and what the implications of these relations are for forest policy.

The study focused specifically on the relations between gendered de jure and de facto land tenure regimes, gendered spaces, and gendered rights relating to plants and trees, and how these are conditioned by gendered norms and power relations more generally. The study concludes that,in Uganda, and especially among the Buganda, theState and male peasants own land and trees both de jure and de facto , which creates one set of 'boundaries' that must be respected. The distribution of useful species within these boundaries, and the gender division of labour that associates certain species and uses more with one sex than the other, means that these boundaries will be continuously transgressed.Further, social obligations and social relations play an important role in defining who has what types of rights. State forest reserves are illegally accessed; nevertheless, there are local informal social 'rules' and 'rights' that are associated with this access. The act of transgressing one boundary may simultaneously mean respecting another, although the emic boundaries are not fixed in space or time but are rather related to specific resources and networks of spaces.Physical and socio-cultural boundaries are being transgressed in the effort to access, use and manage plant resources to maintain both local livelihoods and cultural identity.

There are only a limited number of studies relating to indigenous use and management of forest resources and of gender differentiation in such practices in the Ugandan context. In view of the new Ugandan 2001 Forest Policy, it is important that better insights into such practices are obtained. The study of the gendered use and management of forest resources inUgandacontributes to the body of scientific knowledge on local plant and tree management systems that are ecologically and socio-culturally specific. This is important considering the widespread failure ofmanytop-down, 'scientifically' designed forest resource conservation schemes to effectively conserve forest resources, alleviate poverty and improve local livelihoods and welfare.

Chapter 2 provides an overview of the conceptual framework that formed the basis for the study. After discussing the need to differentiate between professional and local perspectives on forest resource use, it synthesizes three major conceptual issues entailed in investigating and understanding local perspectives, i.e. property rights regimes, indigenous or local knowledge and management systems, and social and gender relations. Special attention is given to the need to highlight gendered access, use and management of plants in forested landscape spaces. The study attempted to understand how local people conceptualise forests and forest resources, which led to the use of the concept of 'forested landscapes', which, for example, recognises no dichotomy between forests and agricultural landscapes. The concept of forested landscapes focuses on a diversity of land-use zones that contain forest resources, and entails investigation of the heterogeneous and complex characteristics of forest-people relations, as well as their relations to local livelihoods and State forest resource conservation policies and practices. 

Chapter 3 describes the research methodology. The main study components consisted of a forest resource use survey to ascertain inter-community and intra-community differences in forest use and dependencies, and comparative ethnobotanical case-studies focused on four forest species to investigate access, use and management of specific species by individuals and households in specific forested landscapes. The species case studies produced rich insights for understanding people-forest resource relations within a specific socio-cultural context by revealing the complexities and nuances that could not be investigated while using only a survey approach, whereas the survey helps to generalise the case study findings. As well, the ethnobotanical approach helped to identify specialised or particularistic knowledge and practices whereas the survey helped to reveal more general knowledge and practices (or 'general principles') held by the community as a whole.

The survey was administered in centralUgandain two locations with similar agro-ecological and cultural characteristics, but different livelihood patterns and with different levels of forest degradation: Buttobuvuma Forest Reserve and the communities close to it in Mpigi District, and Mabira Forest Reserve and its enclave communities in Mukondo District. These areas are representative of the coffee/banana belt land-use conditions in the major agricultural production zone in centralUganda, and both are inhabited by the Ganda tribe pertaining to theBugandakingdom (Lugandan speaking). At each location, one study village was randomly selected: Sanga, a forest enclave community in the Mabira forest (pop. 610), and Kisamula/Malube village (pop. 1300) that surrounds the Buttobuvuma forest reserve in Mpigi District.

For the resource survey, two methods were used to collect data. First, transect walks and participatory mapping coupled with group interviews served to investigate village structure and land-use patterns. Next, a household survey involving 40 and 36 households in Sanga and Kisamula/Malube villages, respectively, was carried out to ascertain the relation between household characteristics and forest resource use. For the ethnobotanical case studies, four species (Fig - Ficusnatalensis, Jackfruit - Artocarpusheterophyllus, Palm - Phoenixreclinataand Cat's whiskers - Cleomegynandra) were identified during focus group discussions as being important both culturally and as livelihood resources. The selected species represent a range of characteristics: single or multi-purpose use, wild or domesticated, trees or plants, cosmologically significant or insignificant, and market or subsistence use. In-depth, open-ended interviews were conducted with both men and women within 20 purposively-selected households that were active users of the different species. Detailed information on Ficusnatalensis,Artocarpus heterophyllus,Phoenixreclinata, and Cleomegynandra was gathered from20, 12, 20 and 11 respondents, respectively. 

Chapter 4 provides information on the local context. First, it presents a general description of the geographic conditions and forest resources in the study area. Next it provides a general overview of forest management inUganda, giving special attention to historical changes in land and tree tenure and their significance for forest management. Since indigenous use and management of forest and tree resources not only depends on formal and customary tenure but as well on socio-cultural organization, a general overview of the Buganda tribe is given focusing specifically on gender relations and belief systems.

Chapter 5 explores intra- and inter-village differences in forest resource dependency and use and relates these to variables such as wealth, landholding, education, household demographic structure, and livelihood activities. The findings indicate that, although annual household income was significantly higher in Kisamula, overall the differences between household characteristics and endowments were not significant between villages. Regarding between-household differences, across both villages it appeared that larger landholdings were associated with older household heads, and female headed households were more likely to have smaller holdings than male headed households. On average, households had a fairly high level of dependence (above 50%) on forest products as a source of firewood, poles, medicinal plants and handicraft materials. The people in the study area are predominantly peasant farmers who grow food crops for mainly subsistence. The division of labour in the study area is also examined. The women are more involved in petty trading, crafts materials and fuel wood collecting. The men are more involved in wage work, beer brewing and illegal charcoal making. Women and children's labour predominates in all reproductive tasks except for house construction. In both cropland and home gardens, men and women participate in land clearing and preparation and planting. Weeding in croplands and home gardens is predominantly a women's activity, although croplands are perceived to be a male space. With respect to forested landscapes, there were also substantial gender differences: generally, women are significantly more dependent on home gardens as sources of forest products in comparison with men, who were more dependent upon cropland and forest reserves. 

Villagers identified several boundaries within the forested landscape that did not conform to conventional foresters' boundaries. Non-timber products and medicinal plants are collected from both privately-owned as well as state-owned forested landscapes. Handicraft materials are collected from the state-owned landscape both from the permitted locations (buffer zones) and the prohibited area (state forests). Timber products are only harvested from the state forest reserve since few mature timber trees are found in the private landscapes. Thus, villagers create resource use boundaries based at least in part on need and location of the resources, making the forested landscape appear more like a network of niches with specific uses, which vary with respect to history, cultural and material significance and access rights. Gendered behavioural norms and the gender division of labour are major determinants of the use of species and spaces in forested landscapes, where women are more involved with subsistence uses and men with income-generating uses. 

Chapter 6 presents the results of the case studies in terms of access to and use of selected tree and plant species in specific landscape spaces. It presents an in-depth analysis of species-specific patterns, adding further nuances to the overall conditions of local forest use and management as described in Chapter 4. It also discusses the extent to which species-specific rights are similar to, or different from, more general patterns of forest resource access evident in the study communities. This chapter provides a detailed analysis of whether, in addition to formal rights to trees, there are de facto informal rights to harvest and use particular tree and plant species and, if so, to whom these rights pertain and how these rights are related to boundaries regarding (a) formal land and tree tenure, (b) particular landscape niches in which species are found, and (c) uses of tree and plant products, including the final destination of such products such as for own consumption, household consumption, exchange, or sale.

Chapter 7 presents the tree and plant case study results regarding management practices in specific landscape spaces. Local forest resource management practices and their rationales, which reflect local knowledge, are discussed in relation to gender differences, subsistence strategies and cultural regulations regarding natural resource use. Special attention is given to assessing whether, in addition to gender-specific uses and access rights to plants, there are (a) associated gender-specific local management practices, knowledge and rationales and, if so, (b) how these might be related to specific forest landscape spaces, as well as (c) how both in turn may be related to gendered beliefs and norms, as well as to subsistence practices and social status of individuals and households.

Chapter 8 presents an overview of the results and implications for forest policy. It argues that there are interactions between local social norms and cosmology, on the one hand, and formal property rights on the other, where both sides of this equation are gendered. Gender relations,whichare embedded in social norms and belief systems, define a dynamic gendered division of labour that further reinforces the gendered use of tree and plant resources and spaces. At the same time, formal rights to land and the resources thereon, including trees, are also gendered - in Uganda if not de jure , then de facto, largely in accordance with customary tenure but also in accordance with local norms. This implies that gendered spaces are created based at least in part on customary gendered rights to own land and to use, manage or dispose of land and the resources thereon. This is complicated by the existence of separate and gendered rights to trees and even to plants on the land that are distinct from but conditioned by rights to the land itself. Together, these beliefs, norms, rights and divisions of roles tend to create gendered tree and plant species and spaces, which might be conceptualised as 'gendered spaces determine gendered species' (which species are 'male' or 'female' depends on the gendered rights to the spaces where the species are located), or as 'gendered species determine gendered spaces' (rights to spaces depend upon on which species are found there and whether these are 'men's' or 'women's' species). The empirical findings show that such relations are not unidirectional, but bivariate at their simplest. There are yet other complicating factors: not only does the use of trees and plants become gendered and defined in terms of spaces, species and products, but also in terms of the nature of use, particularly the distinction between market and subsistence use. Further, at times it is not species per se that are gendered, but rather the different species products. There are also local relationships that further condition the various sets of rights, both formal and informal: marriage and other kinship ties, and social obligations of reciprocity, neighbourliness and friendship that are often based in part upon gender and in part upon age.

The study clearly reveals the multidimensionality, nestedness and layered nature of rights that are revealed when plotting gendered land and tree tenure, species use and management practices on the same map, where what comes to the fore are gendered rights to spaces and species (where these are interlocking rather than discrete), and gendered domains of action that socially construct individual's and groups' resources rights and privileges, thus conditioning resource use and management.

Understanding these complex interrelations has important implications for planning official forestry development programmes with the aim to conserve forest resources and to achieve equity and increased welfare. The results indicate that the conventional legal administrative approach reflected in formal definition of a 'bundle of rights' and the delineation of legal boundaries regarding the prohibitions of forest resource use is too simplistic. Local communities have a much more fluid set of 'boundaries' of access rights to forest resources. There are informal systems of norms and rights that are locally associated with access to forest resources, and the act of transgressing a legal boundary may mean simultaneously respecting another informal boundary.The study clearly shows that the ability of forest-dependent people to obtain access to forested landscapes is mediated by context-specific political, economic, social and cultural frames within which access to resources are sought. The study thus demonstrates the need to also transgress boundaries of professional disciplines and better integrate biophysical and sociological domains in order to understand context-specific access, use and management of plant resources in forested landscapes from an emic perspective

Within the Buganda region, it appears that men have stronger 'rights' to use and manage various landscape niches in comparison to women, who are more circumscribed to spaces that either have no strong associated rights regime (e.g. common lands) or to those traditionally considered as 'women's spaces' (home gardens). Informal system of rights parallel to the formal or customary land and tree tenure systems that give men control over land and tree resources, still recognize women's rights in several respects (to specific species, spaces, practices, products and uses) although women are not as privileged as men. This therefore means that women's tree and plant rights in many households may be best guaranteed (either maintained or expanded) through the formalization of what at present appear to be informal rights vested in social institutions and by formally increasing their rights.

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Keyword(s) forest management / forest policy / forest resources / gender relations / land use / forest products / uganda / land rights
Categories Forest Management
Publication type PhD thesis
Language English
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