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Dissertation zugänglich unter
Deforestation or Development : Exploring the actors, practices and drivers of forest loss on Zambia's Central Plateau
Entwaldung oder Entwicklung
Dokument 1.pdf (6.774 KB)
Freie Schlagwörter (Deutsch):
Abholzung , Entwaldung , Entwicklung , Politische Ökologie , Ethnographie
Freie Schlagwörter (Englisch):
Deforestation , Development , Political Ecology , Ethnography , Land-Use Change
73.06 , 74.23 , 43.70 , 43.47 , 73.11
Kulturgeschichte und Kulturkunde
Natürliche Ressourcen, Energie und Umwelt
Schnegg, Michael (Prof. Dr.)
Tag der mündlichen Prüfung:
Kurzfassung auf Englisch:
With 250,000 ha of forest lost annually, Zambia is one of the countries most affected by deforestation in Sub-Saharan Africa. The thesis, which is based on empirical data gathered during 13 months of in-depth fieldwork in 2014 and 2015, provides a holistic understanding of the causes of forest loss in Zambia.
Part I offers an introduction to the issue of deforestation, with a focus on Zambia and its Miombo woodlands. Thereafter, access to the field and methods applied during fieldwork are introduced and reflected upon. This part demonstrates that much ‘knowledge’ about deforestation in Zambia has been based on an array of assumptions and stereotypes, but not on everyday experiences or interaction with those said to be responsible.
After introducing the research community, its inhabitants and livelihood strategies, the thesis describes how the residents perceive and value the woodlands and forests surrounding them, and how access to them is regulated. Thereafter, insights into the most salient edible NTFPs are provided.
Part II of the work provides rich empirical insights into all salient practices leading to forest loss in Zambia, such as the collection of firewood, production of charcoal, extraction of timber, mining, or the production of maize and tobacco. While the focus remains at village level, connections to the greater region or the capital city are also included in the analysis: it pays attention to the drivers behind those practices at the individual and the household level, such as personal needs, short-term desires, long-term aspirations, or constraints. In addition to this, attention has been paid to the structural level, which includes, amongst others, discourses, moralities, policies, economic processes, customary and statutory laws, which all impact on individuals and households. It will become clear which drivers – many of which are locally distant from the sites of deforestation – favour or enable deforestation, do not prevent, or even accelerate it.
The material presented will challenge the dominant discourse on Zambian deforestation, especially with regard to poverty and the production of charcoal, both of which have long been blamed for the loss of forests.
Following the discussion of a wide range of practices leading to forest loss, a more general driver underlying many of those – the desire to aspire – is introduced in Part III. While consumerism has been on the rise, belief in witchcraft has declined over the years, which has fundamental implications for the increased desire to participate in the cash economy and to materially improve one’s life. The main strategy for doing so is agricultural expansion, which in recent years, has become a challenge due to looming land constraints. After tracing the evolution of Zambia’s current land tenure system, it is argued that the general perception of Zambia having large tracts of unutilised land is fundamentally flawed.
Part IV of the ethnography demonstrates how land scarcity experienced in the community, in combination with other dynamics, has impinged upon a protected National Forest adjacent to the community. Whereas the preceding chapters mainly dealt with an old, well-established village, this chapter takes a closer look at the community’s ‘newest’ village, which has recently come into existence illegally within the National Forest. This part examines a practice that was deliberately omitted earlier, namely the expansion of settlements. During fieldwork, many households were just moving into the National Forest, which offered completely up-to-date insights into their actions, motivations, and the enabling environment such as politics.
In the last Part, it is argued that forest loss is not necessarily the same as deforestation, providing answers to what, from an emic perspective, actually constitutes ‘deforestation’. The thesis explains why only certain practices are, quite literally, seen as ‘deforestation’ whereas others are rather seen as ‘development’. Finally, it is argued that this particular way of seeing deforestation, as well as political interference, have undermined efforts to halt forest loss.
While the work builds upon insights from political ecology, its unique value lies in its ethnographic approach: Unlike many ethnographies, the work does not start from certain people or groups, but from the many observable practices that involve the cutting of trees, from where connections to the actors and drivers at both the individual and the structural level are sought.
The focus of this work is on the ordinary lives of those involved in the cutting of trees, which is connected throughout the chapters with obvious but also more subtle factors driving environmental change, such as the love for maize meal or small-scale land speculation. As a consequence of this in-depth analysis, the reader will develop a deep understanding of how the global issue of deforestation unfolds locally.