The state and community-based natural resource management: The case of the Moribane Forest Reserve, Mozambique
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This article examines a community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) project in Mozambique. We use this case to develop a criticism of CBNRM projects that has been neglected in the literature, namely the way in which the state can use such projects as a means to extend its reach in rural areas, rather than devolving control to local communities as the rhetoric of CBNRM implies. This paradox makes it difficult to achieve both the conservation and decentralisation goals of CBNRM. The study also adds a new dimension to the growing literature examining the Mozambican state and its relationship with the rural peasantry. Various studies have analysed land and agrarian policies, detecting continuities in peasant-state relations despite dramatic regime changes over the last decades. These studies have emphasised the importance of political motives for the colonial state and economic constraints (and motives) for the post-colonial state in determining agrarian policies. This study suggests that both political and economic motives are important in the postwar era for the Frelimo state, with regard to natural resource management. The Moribane Forest Reserve was controlled by the Renamo guerrillas during Mozambique's civil war, and the state has yet to re-establish an effective presence in the area. State reluctance to devolve control over natural resources stems from the desire of forestry personnel to protect the forests above all else, the economic interests of state agents in valuable natural resources, and the unwillingness of politicians to allow local control in areas sympathetic to the opposition. The example of Moribane highlights the influence of local history on CBNRM, in this case particularly the political repercussions of the civil war.
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