Participatory Forest Management

Participatory Forest Management is the system of management whereby a community forest is managed by the members of the local community, and not by some external, remote governing body. This system enables the members of the local community to be the direct beneficiaries of the forests (Melka, 2008). Community forestry, community-based natural resource management, joint forest management, collaborative management, adaptive co-management and participatory forest management (PFM) are terms used to describe a new set of varying and evolving relationships between the state (usually through forest departments) and people living in and close to forests and woodlands (Hobley, 2005).

In this paper the term PFM is used to describe the system where communities living closest to forests and woodlands, and local government authorities work together to make decisions in all aspects of forest management, from (co-)managing resources to formulating and implementing institutional arrangements.

Ethiopia has different vegetation resources including high forests, forests, bushes, plantations and trees outside the forests. Each of these vegetation resources contributes in various ways to the functions of production, protection, conservation, and plays an important role in the national and local economy (Yinger.

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, et al., 2007). There are six main economic roles of forest resources plays in Ethiopia: (i) earnings in foreign currency, mainly for export of non-wood forest products; (ii) replacement of energy imports; (iii) contribution to GDP; (iv) employment generation; v) support for livelihoods for millions of citizens, and (vi) provision of environmental services that support other sectors, in particular, agriculture, construction, and energy (Yenger. et al., 2007; Girmay, 2016; Habtemariam Kassa, 2008).

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According to (SSLFM, 2012), 90% of the energy used in Ethiopia comes from biomass, and 80% of the human population based on traditional herbal medicine for the healthcare of basis.

The amount of firewood consumption in Ethiopia is estimated at 84 million m3 per year. The forest products constitute an important part of the household income portfolio contributing (34%) of total per capita income followed by livestock (30%), crop (26%), and environmental products (6%) (Yemiru, et al., 2010). However, the forest resources in Ethiopia have been poorly managed for decades, mainly due to the generic ownership of these resources. In the history of Ethiopia, conservation of forest resources is formally declared in the 1889 "all forests in the trees on private land owned by the state" after the lack of firewood and material construction became very critical even for the royal court, according to (Melaku, 2009; Berman, 1966; Campbell,, 2002; Campbell, 2001; Campbell , 2006; Carlsson, 2005; DFID, 1999; Edmunds, 2003). These non-participatory approaches have not reduced the felling of trees, especially in Protected National Forest Priority Areas (Melaku, 2003). This kind of forest policy has aggravated the rate of deforestation.

For instance, the forests which used to cover 30% of the land area in the early 1950s were reduced to 3.6% in the early 1980s and further declined to 2.7% in the early 1990s. In many developing countries there have been state failures in ensuring property right regimes that allow farmers to equitably share the benefits and responsibilities of managing forests (Melaku, 2003; Yinger, et al., 2007; Saguye, 2017; Friis, 1999; EFAP, 1994; Africa, 2000). However, deforestation is occurred due to poor management and lack of appropriate forest actions (Gebru, 2016; Husain, 2004; Kiss, 1990; Melaku, 2003; Sayer, 2004; Shackleton, 2002; Skutsch, 2000; Sunderlin, 2005). Accordingly, one of the solutions introduced by some NGOs in the early 1995s was the participatory forest management program (PFM) with the objective of reducing country deforestation and to improve the income of local livelihoods. There are now almost two decades of experience in the country (Endalew, 2016; Wily, 2001).

The participatory concept was proposed for the first time by several countries in 1970 and applied in management. The participatory concept has been incorporated into forest management for over 20 years. It is believed that the main forest management bodies are the rural public and those people should actively participate and benefit from relevant activities involving participatory silviculture means making producers actively participate in the development, implementation, distribution of interest, monitoring and the assessment of forest management to be short and to the point, participatory forest management is a mechanism to protect forest resources and improve the living conditions of communities that use and benefit them in the process (Ellen, 2010; Warah, 2008; SSLFM, 2012). The PFM project at Chilimo Forest is one of four such projects recently initiated in the country.

Local communities at Chilimo have organized themselves as forest users groups (FUGs) and concluded an agreement with the District Agricultural and Rural Development Office (DARDO) to manage the forest based on Proclamation No. 72/2003 (Art. 6, Sub art. 2 & 3) of the Council of the Oromia Regional Government that allows for transferring the management responsibility of forests to local communities. A total of 12 FUGs were established around Chilimo forest. Later organizing FUGs into cooperatives was taken as the best option to ensure that these community organizations have legal status. The cooperative by-law is based on formal rules and regulations of establishing cooperatives (Cooperatives Proclamation No. 147/1998). This paper focuses on the FUGs of Chilimo forest, which became the first cooperative to manage protected and planted forest resources and non-user groups of the area. Chilimo Forest is also the first natural forest in Ethiopia managed by a cooperatives. Then, it was important to examine the economic contribution of Participatory Forest Management between forest conservation and livelihoods.

The purpose of this paper is to do a research on the PFM to identify its management challenges, factors affecting household income derived from activities created by participatory forest management, the socio-economic characteristics which determining the participation of local households in PFM and to identify the benefit sharing mechanisms of cooperatives using descriptive statistics and econometric models. The analysis was organized on four different questions: First, what are the key management challenges of Chilimo Forest? Second, does the participation of local households in PFM determined by the socio-economic characteristics? Third, what are the factors affecting household income derived from the activities created by the PFM? Fourth, does Chilimo forest cooperatives have benefit sharing mechanisms? In general, as for my objectives, no study was ever been conducted specifically in my area of study. This research, therefore, has the potential to contribute to sustainable forest management and increase the income of local households by providing valuable recommendations based on the results of the research.

Updated: May 19, 2021
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Participatory Forest Management. (2020, Sep 07). Retrieved from

Participatory Forest Management essay
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