Assessment of Local Communities Attitudes towards Participatory Forest Management (PFM) Approach and It’s Implications for Sustainablity of Forest Condition and Livelihoods: The Case of Chilimo-Gaji Forest in Dendi District,West Shewa Zone,Oromia, Ethiop

Tesfaye Samuel Saguye


Participatory Forest Management (PFM) approach was piloted in Chilimo-Gaji- Forest in Ethiopia in 1990s as n alternative forest management approach. This was necessitated by objection over forest resource degradation, clamor for decentralization and need for better forest governance system. Positive attitudes of local communities towards collaborative forest management are an essential prerequisite for local participation in forest management.  In order for local residents to cooperate with a reduction of deforestation and forest degradation, they must have a positive attitude toward the forest conservation system and positive attitude toward the forest conservation approach. A positive attitude of local communities towards forest management system is an essential prerequisite for local participation in forest management. Understanding local community perceptions of forest management and the factors that influence their perceptions and attitudes are important for designing forest management policies that are sensitive to their needs. This study assess the local communities  perceptions of and attitudes  towards participatory  forest management approaches in the Chilim—Gaji  forest in Ethiopia and further analyses factors that affect   attitudes towards the forest and forest management. Data for the study was generated through household survey comprising of 265 respondents selected through simple random technique and substantiated by key informant interview and FGDs. Data analyzed by employing both descriptive and inferential statistics.  The study findings revealed that, generally the respondents held positive attitudes towards the forest and PFM approach. The results also depicted the association between socio-economic features of people living close to the forest and their use of forest resources and demonstrated the basis of attitudes towards those managing the forest. Sixty percent of respondents were found to agree with the idea of Chilimo-Gaji forest conservation; however, statistically significant differences were found between the villages in terms of supportive attitudes toward the forest conservation system (p = 0.02) and toward the PFM System (p = 0.01). However, those highly dependent on the forest to generate income remained reluctant and unsupportive, suggesting that high levels of support toward a conservation project by sections of the community may not translate into conservation success, because the drivers of the deforestation and forest degradation are not supportive. Regression results showed that these perceptions were influenced by different socio-economic, demographic and geophysical factors. These factors included: membership in social groups, wealth stratums, farm size, , livestock ownership and dependency on forest for extraction. A direct financial benefit accrues from the PFM system was found to be the main factor of the respondents’ attitudes and perceptions. This study then suggests that to change the perception and attitudes of local  people around the forest, environmental education through awareness raising programs  should be encouraged, and then addressing local development needs, ensuring  real  participation in PFM system if the new  forest management system wants to win  long lasting  support of local communities in order to improve the forest condition and ensure sustainable rural livelihood.

Keywords: PFM Approach, Local Communities, Attitude, Perception, Chilimo-Gaji Forest

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3208 ISSN (Online)2225-093X

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