Community forestry and woodlot development in South Africa: The past, present and future

Ham C. ; Theron J.M. (1999)


The development of community forestry in South Africa, with emphasis on woodlots, is reviewed and discussed. Until the beginning of the 1990's rural people showed little or no interest in woodlots, despite efforts of government over many decades. The main reasons for failure are discussed: Insufficient local participation in projects; although it was assumed there was a major need for fuelwood amongst rural people, they did not perceive it as one of their important needs; the complex social, political and economical issues of rural people were not considered. Therefore, the objectives of woodlot development must be reassessed, i.e. not merely providing poles and fuelwood to rescue indigenous vegetation, but become an integral part of rural development programmes and contribute to the RDP. Furthermore, small-grower schemes can be economically beneficial for the growers and create work opportunities for others. A brief review of the rural energy use and electrification is given. Fuelwood deficits are especially severe in the former homelands, where most households also do not have access to electricity. Fortunately, community forestry is becoming increasingly people-centred.

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