The Governance of Community Forests in Eswatini: The Case of Ezikhotheni and Ngcayini Chiefdoms
The aim of this study was to assess the rules governing the management of resources from plantation-style community forests in the Kingdom of Eswatini using Ngcayini and Ezikhotheni chiefdoms as case studies. Data were collected by selecting and interviewing respondents comprising internal and external stakeholders. Internal stakeholders included heads of households, members of the community inner council, Natural Resource Management Committee members, as well as the Inkhundla Local Government Council (Bucopho). External stakeholders included officers in the Forestry Section of the Ministry Tourism and Environmental Affairs (MTEA); officers of the Eswatini Environment Authority (EEA); the Livelihoods Manager for World Vision; and the Director of Environment for Conserve Eswatini. The research findings indicate that access to forest resources is free in natural forests, yet in plantation-style community forests it is controlled by traditional authorities and Natural Resource Management Committees (NRMCs). Furthermore, there are elaborate rules governing the management of community forests in the specific chiefdoms studied (90% Ezikhotheni and 88% at Ngcayini). The rules are formulated by all community members and enforced by community leaders. Despite the elaborate rules, there are challenges of illegal burning and harvesting of resources, as well as the theft of fence materials surrounding the forests and gullies. Nonetheless, perpetrators are generally exposed and reprimanded through levying of fines. In addition, community members indicated knowledge of national policies and legislation relating to the management of community forests.
Community Forests, Traditional Authorities, Natural Resource Management Committee, Rules, National Policies, Legislation, Ngcayini, Ezikhotheni
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