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Fifteen years of forest community management in Niger: From a technician's dream to social reality

Rives F., Peltier R., Montagne P.. 2010. In : International Conference on smallholder and community forest management, Montpellier, France, 24-26 March 2010. s.l. : s.n., 16 p.. Conference on Taking stock of Smallholder and Community Forestry, 2010-03-24/2010-03-26, Montpellier (France).

Community forestry is based on the premise that local management by a community appropriating the resource on a delimited space guarantees a sustainable management. In the 1990s, the Niger provides a favorable context for such governance: the great droughts have raised concerns about ecosystems degradation and the forest administration has too little means to ensure the control of forest exploitation. Thus, the Energy II project introduces rural markets (RM). Their aim is to ensure a regular supply in wood energy of urban centers and a sustainable management of forests. Each RM is characterized by fixed points of sale, a delimited "village-forest" and a local structure of management that ensures the sale of wood and the control of exploitation rules. Fifteen years later, a study of two types of RM in Niger illustrated how villagers have translated the technical rules proposed by the project technicians. Despite different regulations, the practices are quite similar in these two villages. Although woodcutters observe changes in resource quality, they do not respect the technical rules (forest limit, plots, quota ...). They also note an improvement of their living conditions and wish to maintain this activity. Wood exploitation, as conceived in the framework of RM, constitutes a new practice for farmers. In their actual form, we can estimate that RMs are an effective tool for resource valorization but not yet for sustainable forest management. To reach this ultimate goal, focus should now be on redefining technical rules for them to be more adapted to local conditions and easier to control.

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