The need for appropriate local level common property resource management institutions in communal tenure regimes
Murombedzi, James C.
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A tenure system, viewed holistically, is in effect a dynamic resource system consisting of a diversity of resource processes and rules, regulations, rights and obligations that define the relationship between the resource users and the resources as well as between themselves. The resource system is essentially conditioned by the tenure regime that governs the resources that are utilised in the resource processes. In common property regimes, the development of common property management units is related to and determined by the patterns of resource use. As such, the locus of control over decisions affecting the exploitation of those resources should be expected to be as close as possible to those people actually involved in their exploitation. However, since the advent of colonialism in Africa, decisions affecting the exploitation of resources by small rural communities are increasingly made in bureaucratic institutions far removed from the consequences of their actions. Numerous evidence can however be adduced to demonstrate that the survival of biological resources is best managed at the local level. Moreover, and particularly in the case of Sub - Saharan Africa, resources have been exploited in the interests and according to the designs of the rich industrialised North, resulting in patently unsuitable land use systems and institutions. The cumulative negative effect of bureaucratic control and externally imposed land use systems is evidenced by an apparently inexorable trend towards resource degradation and depletion, diminished capacity to guarantee food security and the general destruction of common property resources in most of Sub - Saharan Africa. These processes are frequently attributed to the "tragedy of the commons" and the policy solution suggested in this paradigm is privatisation of the commons. This paper attempts to show that, on the contrary, the re - institution of appropriate local control and management of biological resources in common property regimes will be the decisive factor in reversing the trend of degradation. The primary focus will be on the management of wildlife resources under common property regimes.