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Forest resource management in Sierra Leone : a critique of policy formulation and implementation

Konteh, William (1997) Forest resource management in Sierra Leone : a critique of policy formulation and implementation. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.


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This research identified the two principal reasons for unsustainable forest management in Sierra Leone as inadequate forest policies and policy implementation. There has been a consistent disparity between the government's stated forest policies, published in 1912, 1946 and 1988 with goals of protection and sustainable management, and its actual policies which since 1922 have mainly promoted unsustainable exploitation. Reliance on out-of-date policies created ambiguity that allowed the government to pursue this hidden agenda. Changes in policy were analysed with a balance of policy pressures model that assessed changes in the influence of major policy actors and stresses on them. The dominant actors since 1912 have been the Executive and the Bureaucracy, subject to pressures from the British government (until Independence in 1961) and timber traders. Stated policy changed in 1912 and 1946 in response to their concern about the threat posed by deforestation to timber supplies. But actual policy was soon relaxed, to increase selfsufficiency and contribute to the allied war effort (1939-1945), and benefit the country's Business Elite, particularly after 1969 when patronage and corruption proliferated. Stated policy changed in 1988 under pressure from foreign donor organisations concerned about environmental impacts of forest depletion. But local NOOs and other protectionist groups were still too weak to force a change in actual policy. Poor forest policy implementation by the state's Forestry Division between 1961 and 1984 was explained by institutional constraints, shown by an organisation theory model to involve poor organisational strength, an organisational structure with a clear chain of command but long reporting lines, a high level of discretion allowed to senior staff, and external conditioning of policy down the chain of command. The new structure introduced in 1984 to facilitate more decentralised forest management made lines of communication more indirect and continuing use of old reporting lines led to confusion and dual allegiance. A questionnaire and interview survey of Forestry Division staff found that poor staff compliance with policy is influenced by lack of freedom to express opinions, dilapidated working conditions, limited equipment, low salaries, lack of opportunities for training and promotion, and lack of participation in policy formulation. The government's inability to control peripheral areas has been further limited since 1991 by a rebel insurgency which forced forestry staff to withdraw from most forested areas. While still politically weak, NOOs have complemented the role of the government by undertaking their own afforestation projects. A survey of NOO staff showed that their morale, effectiveness and resource availability were all much higher than that of the Forestry Division. The results of this first comprehensive forest policy analysis for Sierra Leone raise queries about assumptions by environmentalist groups that management of tropical forests generally will become more sustainable simply if governments introduce improved policies, as they are committed to do as signatories to the 2nd International Tropical Timber Agreement. Actual policy will remain exploitative if protectionist groups inside a country remain weak, and implementation will continue to be constrained by institutional factors.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Geography (Leeds)
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2013 12:17
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:51
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3263

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