Decentralized governance and ecological health: why local institutions fail to moderate deforestation in Mpigi district of Uganda
Banana, Abwoli Y.
Vogt, Nathan D.
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The outcomes of decentralization policies on the delivery of forestry sector services and ecological health remain ambiguous. Several scholars warn that there is insufficient empirical data to support the assumption that decentralization of forest resources results in better or worse forest governance. In this paper, we investigate the effectiveness of local institutions crafted during the implementation of decentralization reforms of the mid-1990s in Mpigi District of Uganda to moderate forest degradation. We observed cases of both institutional success and failure in forestry management within the district following the decentralization reforms suggesting that decentralization of authority over forests to local user groups, traditional leaders, or officials of local governments may not always produce incentives to prevent a decline in forest extent or condition in the entire landscape. The outcomes of decentralization reforms in the forest sector may be more a function of factors such as 1) the nature of the forests, location, patchiness, and production of external environmental goods and services; 2) the level and strength of market signals for both forest products and crops grown on forest soils; and 3) the diversity of stakeholders and their values and dependence on specific extents and condition of the forest patch.