Factors Affecting Forest User’s Participation in Participatory Forest Management; Evidence from Alamata Community Forest, Tigray; Ethiopia
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Abstract This study attempted to explore factors affecting forest user‟s participation in Participatory Forest Management. The general objective of this study is assessing factors affecting Community Participation in PFM in the study area. Specifically, the study to examining awareness of the community about the cause of deforestation; assessing the perception of the community towards PFM; identifying the pull factors that influence forest users to participate actively in PFM, and to identifying the restraining factors that affect forest user‟s participation actively in PFM. Primary data were collected through questionnaire distributed to 157 sample respondents and interview with Development Agents, forest supervisors of the woreda, and local administrators. Information was also gathered from woreda agriculture office. Purposive, stratified and systematic sampling methods were employed in sample selection process. The study found that forest depletion is the relevant issue in the study area. The major Causes of forest depletion in the study area are illegal cutting of wood, over grazing, agricultural expansion, natural drought and urbanization. To overcome these problems, it was found out that people positively perceive the approach of PFM due to the fact that it brought positive change in forest conservation, empowerment and accountability. This happened as a result of the privileges of ownership and use right granted to the community. The benefits obtained from PFM are the driving force for such active forest user‟s participation. On the other hand factors that discourage participation in the study area were found to be conflict arising between those community forest users and nonusers as well as women‟s productive and reproductive role. Furthermore, the fear of losing their forest due to expansion of agricultural land, lack of incentives and weak legal actions taken on illegal users were some of the hindrances that adversely affect community participation in PFM.