Deforestation and Forest Degradation as an Environmental Behavior: Unpacking Realities Shaping Community Actions | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
February 2019
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© 2019 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article.

Deforestation and forest degradation (D&D) in the tropics have continued unabated and are posing serious threats to forests and the livelihoods of those who depend on forests and forest resources. Smallholder farmers are often implicated in scientific literature and policy documents as important agents of D&D. However, there is scanty information on why smallholders exploit forests and what the key drivers are. We employed behavioral sciences approaches that capture contextual factors, attitudinal factors, and routine practices that shape decisions by smallholder farmers. Data was collected using household surveys and focus group discussions in two case study forests—Menagesha Suba Forest in Ethiopia and Maasai Mau Forest in Kenya. Our findings indicate that factors that forced farmers to engage in D&D were largely contextual, i.e., sociodemographic, production factors constraint, as well as policies and governance issues with some influences of routine practices such as wood extraction for fuelwood and construction. Those factors can be broadly aggregated as necessity-driven, market-driven, and governance-driven. In the forests studied, D&D are largely due to necessity needs and governance challenges. Though most factors are intrinsic to smallholders’ context, the extent and impact on D&D were largely aggravated by factors outside the forest landscape. Therefore, policy efforts to reduce D&D should carefully scrutinize the context, the factors, and the associated enablers to reduce forest losses under varying socioeconomic, biophysical, and resource governance conditions.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Duguma, A. Lalisa
Atela, Joanes
Minang, A. Peter
Ayana, N. Alemayehu
Gizachew, Belachew
Nzyoka, M. Judith
Bernard, Florence


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