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Can experiences of forest co-management facilitate transformational adaptation in the face of global changes? A case study in Burkina Faso

Djoudi H., Gautier D., Locatelli B., Zida M.. 2014. In : Resilience and development: mobilising for transformation. Villeurbanne : Centre pour la Communication Scientifique Directe, p. 59-59. Resilience Alliance 2014, 2014-05-04/2014-05-08, Montpellier (France).

Transformational adaptation is defined as a change that is adopted on a large scale, one that transforms places, institutions and regions and shifts systems (Kates et al. 2011). However, little is known yet about the pre-conditions and factors that set the stage for transformational adaptation among socio-ecological systems. In most regions of West Africa, livelihoods depend on goods and services from savannah ecosystems, in interplay with agricultural and livestock production systems. Economic, ecological, social and political changes represent challenges for the governance of the commons. Adaptive co-management appears as an emergent and promising strategy in complex and multi scale, overlapping, governance mechanisms among socio-ecological systems. In Burkina Faso, under state control, forest policies have been introduced since the 1980s' that give more rights to communities to access and collectively manage previously protected areas through local Forest Management Groups (FMG). This is seen and celebrated as a significant shift in the environmental governance in Burkina Faso. The province of Ziro (Centre-West region) is one of the first regions where the co management of forest resources has been implemented. In this region professional groups of local actors gathered in Forest Management Groups (FMG) can exploit and sell firewood according to a forest management scheme. In two villages involved in this devolution process, we conducted vulnerability assessment surveys and focus group discussions. This paper analyses how vulnerability and adaptive capacity of people, belonging to different social groups, using common resources, evolve under the implementation of a co management system. It also analyses how these established new norms shape people's collective action and adaptive capacity. We discuss the new system's pertinence to both incremental and transformational adaptation. The results show that in communities where more formal rights are granted through the forest co-management norms, disadvantaged groups encounter more challenges in accessing and using forest products than in communities where access is still regulated through customary regimes. The exclusive rights to manage forest product through the creation of professional woodcutter's organizations, raises the question of who defines institutional transformation for whom, and who benefit from it. If forest policies ignore the heterogeneous context of communities, as well as existing power relationships, co-management initiatives and actions aiming at granting more rights to people can produce pervert outcomes by decreasing the adaptive capacity of disadvantaged groups and their collective action to move on to a transformational adaptation. Our results show that co-management applied without reinforced rights and leadership of the most vulnerable, including a radical change in behavioural and institutional patterns, tends to maintain existing power relationships, renders powerless groups vulnerable and inhibits institutional adaptive transformation. (Texte integral)

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