Based Management of Indigenous Forests (CBMIF)
Objectives and strategy
The Community Based Management of Indigenous Forest
Project is a collaborative effort of SNV Botswana, GTZ through the SADC/FSTCU
in Malawi and VPR&D.
It started in 1996 in the villages of Motokwe, Khekhenye and Tshwaane, Western
Kweneng Sub-District, with the objective:
"To improve the living standard of rural communities in Botswana through
sustainable and equitable utilisation of veld products."
The project strategy is based on two assumptions:
People will only
be interested in management of veld resources if they can derive a reasonable
and sustainable income from it.
Most veld products
are found in communal lands and therefore should be managed by the relevant
In order to maximise benefits
for the people from veld products, the project has chosen to address issues
related to four aspects of veld product management: management of the indigenous
vegetation, domestication, processing and preservation and marketing. While
working on these more technical issues, the project attempts to establish
mechanisms at community level in which the different uses of natural resources
are discussed and decisions are made with sustainability, equity and gender
integration as major guiding principles.
Communal management of veld products for commercial gain, as opposed to random
utilisation for subsistence, is a relatively new concept, for VPR&D well
as for the communities. In order to make sure that lessons are learned, the
project uses an annual consultation cycle. Every year the project plans
activities together with the communities, monitors progress and provides
support to the communities in the course of the year, and, at the end of
each year, evaluates progress and problems, again together with the
Activities up to date
Most progress in the initial phase of the project has been made on domestication
and sustainable utilisation of veld products. Through subsidised provision
of seedlings and nursery materials and training sessions, the project has
succeeded in developing awareness and a keen interest among the communities
in cultivation of indigenous fruit trees and veld products, agroforestry
and bee-keeping. To date almost 4,500 seedlings of fruit trees and veld products
have been distributed. Survival rates of the indigenous tree species are
60 - 70 %, which is encouraging given the harsh environment. Also, through
involving other projects and organisations in this activity, this activity
can now be sustained with a minimum of effort on part of the project. One
weakness associated to this activity is that sometimes, because of the low
intensity of the follow-up from the project, people do not always adhere
to guidelines. Another weakness is that, unlike the activities under the
other project components, there is no clear prospect of income generation
potential of the species used. The interest of the communities shows however
that they are willing to take the risk.
The project has approached the issue of management of the veld products in
the wild, processing and marketing, through organising activities around
the products which are currently available in the wild and which are being
commercially exploited. In an early stage of project implementation the
communities identified the four most potential veld products for income
flava; Raisin Bush)
(Harpagophytum procumbens, Devils Claw)
pfeilii, Kalahari Truffles)
(Eragrostis pallens, Thatching grass)
Although the specific
activities for the different products differed a similar strategy was used.
Main steps in the process were raising awareness on availability and ecology
through participatory resource assessments, community meetings to agree on
harvest areas and quota and working on community organisation for the purpose
of quality control and marketing. Participation levels in these discussions
ranged between 40 and 70 % of all households, depending on the product and
The activities under this component were implemented in close collaboration
with the Agricultural Resources Board, the government body responsible for
regulating the extraction of indigenous plants, which gave legal backing
to community decisions. A local NGO was asked to assist with community
organisation and institution building.
Although the products we are dealing with are indigenous, the yields still
depend on the rainfall, which is highly variable. Last year, 1997, showed
high yields of e.g. thatching grass and grapple, whereas this year the yields
were far less, both in terms of quality and quantity. The raisin bush did
not give any significant yields in 1996 and 1997, because of unfavourable
timing of rainfall. Because of these limitations income generated through
these products has been relatively low.
Another problem is that traditional utilisation of the veld products was
geared towards subsistence in stead of commerce.
People know the plants and the properties of those species, which they have
used, but do not have a real notion of quantities available and market dynamics.
In 1997 for instance the project asked the communities whether they had truffles
in the area. All three communities reported back that this year was a bumper
year and they would be able to supply large quantities. In the end the project
was only able to collect 200kg, which hardly paid for the expenses of the
trip. On several occasions the project and the communities had tough discussions
on issues such as prices, handling and transport cost and quality. Communities
are slowly learning, but it takes time.
In 1998 a marketing study was conducted to identify additional marketable
products and markets. The results of the study indicate that only a few products
have potential for income generation, mainly because the limited quantities
available of most species does not warrant commercial exploitation. Also,
especially for the medicinal plants and wild foods, sophisticated tests and
quality control are required, which reduce the possibilities of community
based processing. Together with three other NGO's, the project intends to
test market indigenous teas, which seem to be available in abundance and
the processing of which is fairly simple. Hopefully this collaboration will
contribute to the establishment of a marketing network, which will improve
the transparency of the market demands and the supply.
One of the reasons why veld products were selected as the main focus of the
project was that it was assumed that veld products were important especially
for the more marginalised groups, such as Bushmen and female headed households.
The project has monitored participation levels of the different socio-economic
groups and discussed the issue with the community groups found that especially
these groups are active in the project: Apparently the work involved and
the relatively low returns make veld products a last resort. In terms of
equity, the project is therefore more focusing on the internal dynamics of
the veld products groups.
These groups were established already in an early phase of the project around
the management of group plots. Later the groups became active in other areas
as well, such as tree planting and resource assessments.
The project has supported these groups through regular workshops and training
sessions. However, probably mainly because of the variety of activities engaged
in and the marginal returns generated so far, these groups have not developed
into strong entities. Hopefully the herbal teas will prove to be a viable
and profitable enterprise, which would contribute to a stronger organisation.
However, if this would prove to be wishful thinking, we may have to draw
the conclusion that veld products are not the most appropriate resource around
which to build a strong community organisation.
A more informal community consultation mechanism may be more appropriate
for the management of resources with limited income generation potential.
The project currently is preparing a second phase project document. The lessons
above will be incorporated in the process. Several rounds have been planned
to properly consult with the communities and other stakeholders. Also the
project is looking into the feasibility of alternative natural resource
management activities, such as eco-tourism and, crafts production. The results
of these assessments combined with the experiences of the first phase will
help to make deliberate choices. However, there still are a big number of
unknowns and uncertainties regarding the resources and it's management, and
the communities and the project will have to continue the process of learning
by doing which started in the first phase of the project.
Who We Are ] [ Mission Statement
& Objectives ] [ What We Do ] [ Programs
& Projects ] [ Why & Where ]
[ Courses Offered ] [ News
and Articles ] [ Links and Resources ] [
Contact Us Today ]
[ Online Gift Shop ]