Decentralisation of forest management — Is it a panacea to challenges in forest governance in Uganda?
Tumusiime, David Mwesigye
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Decentralisation of forest management is currently implemented in many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America as a governance strategy aimed at enhancing for‐ est resource conservation, poverty alleviation and equity in forest resource utilisa‐ tion. In Uganda, the overarching aim of decentralisation of the forest sector was to shift responsibility of forest management to lower elected local government coun‐ cils so as to increase participation and accountability in the forest sector. In this chapter, we investigate whether decentralisation has led to transfer of “real” power to local authorities and the extent to which the original objectives of decentralised forest service delivery have been achieved and challenges encountered in the imple‐ mentation. We used questionnaires, unstructured observations and interviews to collect data from three districts of Uganda. We found that District Forest Depart‐ ments of local government are mostly involved in revenue generating activities and protection of local forest reserves with only a very limited focus on activities that endear people towards participation in the management of local forest reserves. Power sharing of District Local Governments with lower local institutions and local communities is extremely limited. Contradictory policies about forest resource gov‐ ernance, inequitable sharing of revenues generated from forest resources between the District and Sub-county governments, rent seeking and political corruption amongst actors who are charged with forest law enforcement are the major chal‐ lenges in dispensing decentralised forest governance. There is need to increase space for citizen participation in the management of forest resources, holding ac‐ countable of the duty bearers and equity.