Advanced

'Benefits beyond carbon' : for whom? : gender analysis of communal forest governance and forest resource use in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Stiem, Larissa LU (2014) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM01 20141
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
In an effort to mitigate global climate change, the REDD+ mechanism (an acronym for ‘Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation plus the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stock’) continues to be put forward as an attractive carbon sequestration and forest conservation tool. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), hosting more than 63% of the Congo Basin rainforests, is the biggest receiver for REDD+ funding in Africa. These funds are used to improve forest governance towards sustainable forest management practices and forest conservation. In particular at the local level, these changes will affect communities’ forest resource use, forest management practices, and... (More)
In an effort to mitigate global climate change, the REDD+ mechanism (an acronym for ‘Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation plus the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stock’) continues to be put forward as an attractive carbon sequestration and forest conservation tool. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), hosting more than 63% of the Congo Basin rainforests, is the biggest receiver for REDD+ funding in Africa. These funds are used to improve forest governance towards sustainable forest management practices and forest conservation. In particular at the local level, these changes will affect communities’ forest resource use, forest management practices, and ultimately their livelihoods. Given the fact that the DRC scores fifth highest in the world on the Gender Inequality Index, it is unacceptable that gender issues remain peripheral in the process of setting up REDD+ governance structures.
Therefore, my research addresses this issue of gender blindness in examining barriers to female participation in forest governance. Theories and frameworks from Feminist Political Ecology and Bina Agarwal in particular have guided the research for a deeper understanding of prevailing power relations and social norms that shape gender inequalities. Focus group discussions and individual interviews with community members in two different project sites in Equateur Province as well as field observations and expert interviews reveal socially constructed norms and perceptions on gendered forest knowledge, use and governance.
Key findings from this study show a striking discrepancy in de facto and perceived women’s forest knowledge and activities in the forest, which nourishes men’s claims on dominant power over the use and management of forest resources. Likewise, women’s traditional exclusion from forest governance is predicated on a systematic undervaluation of their capacities. Women could be equally involved in REDD+ though. With the increased emergence of emancipative thinking and better access to education, progressive values towards gender equality challenge patriarchal norms and practices. The study’s findings show that men generally accept women’s active participation in formal forest governance institutions – even leadership – provided that the woman is sufficiently educated.
In order for the whole community, men and women alike, to benefit from REDD+ interventions, it will be crucial to understand gendered differences in use, knowledge, and control over forest resources. In particular, women’s capacities must be strengthened to empower them to participate and profit in an equal manner. Unless REDD+ activities are designed and implemented appropriately, gendered power imbalances could be deteriorated by REDD+ project activities. (Less)
Abstract (French)
En cherchant des solutions pour atténuer les changements climatiques, le mécanisme REDD+ (un acronyme pour la «Réduction des émissions liées à la déforestation et à la dégradation des forêts ainsi que le rôle de la conservation, de la gestion durable des forêts et du renforcement des stocks de carbone forestier») continue d'être promu comme un outil populaire de la séquestration du carbone et de conservation de la forêt. La République démocratique du Congo (RDC), qui héberge plus de 63% des forêts tropicales du Bassin du Congo, a reçu la grande majorité du financement REDD+ à ce jour en Afrique. Ces fonds sont utilisés pour améliorer la gouvernance forestière à l’égard des pratiques de gestion durable des forêts et de la conservation des... (More)
En cherchant des solutions pour atténuer les changements climatiques, le mécanisme REDD+ (un acronyme pour la «Réduction des émissions liées à la déforestation et à la dégradation des forêts ainsi que le rôle de la conservation, de la gestion durable des forêts et du renforcement des stocks de carbone forestier») continue d'être promu comme un outil populaire de la séquestration du carbone et de conservation de la forêt. La République démocratique du Congo (RDC), qui héberge plus de 63% des forêts tropicales du Bassin du Congo, a reçu la grande majorité du financement REDD+ à ce jour en Afrique. Ces fonds sont utilisés pour améliorer la gouvernance forestière à l’égard des pratiques de gestion durable des forêts et de la conservation des forêts. Sur le plan communautaire, ces changements auront des impacts sur l’utilisation des ressources forestières, les pratiques de gouvernance forestière et, en fin de compte, les moyens de subsistance des communautés locales. Compte tenu du fait que la RDC prend la cinquième place du monde sur l’indice d’inégalité entre les sexes, il est inacceptable que les questions de genre restent périphériques dans le processus de mise en place des structures de gouvernance de la REDD+.
Par conséquent, ma recherche aborde ces enjeux de genre dans le cadre de la REDD+ en examinant les obstacles à la participation des femmes dans la gouvernance forestière. Les théories de l’écologie politique féministe et en particulier celles de Bina Agarwal ont guidé la recherche pour comprendre les relations de pouvoir et les normes sociales qui entrainent les inégalités de genre. Des discussions en focus groupes et des entretiens individuels avec les membres de la communauté locale dans deux sites de projets dans la province de l'Equateur ainsi que des observations sur le terrain et des interviews avec des experts révèlent des différences de genre concernant les connaissances, l'utilisation et la gouvernance de la forêt liés aux normes et perceptions socialement construites.
Les résultats de cette étude montrent une différence clé entre la réalité et la perception des connaissances de la forêt et des activités dans la forêt des femmes. Cette fausse perception socialement acceptée nourrit les revendications des hommes sur leur pouvoir dominant sur l’utilisation et la gestion des ressources forestières. De plus, l'exclusion traditionnelle des femmes à l’égard de la gouvernance forestière est fondée sur une sous-évaluation systématique de leurs capacités. Néanmoins, l’inclusion des femmes dans la REDD+ est possible. Au cours de l'émergence des pensées émancipatrices et en vue d’un meilleur accès à l'éducation, des valeurs progressives envers l'égalité entre les sexes mettent en question des normes et pratiques patriarcales. Les résultats révèlent que les hommes acceptent généralement la participation active des femmes dans les institutions formelles de gouvernance forestière - même leur leadership - à condition que la femme soit suffisamment instruite.
Pour que toute la communauté, hommes et femmes, puisse bénéficier des interventions de REDD+, il est primordial de comprendre les différences de genre concernant l'utilisation, la connaissance et le contrôle sur les ressources forestières. En particulier, il faut que les capacités des femmes soient renforcées afin de permettre aux femmes de participer et de bénéficier d'une manière égale. Si les pratiques REDD+ ne sont pas conçues et mises en œuvre d’une manière appropriée, les activités des projets REDD+ pourraient détériorer les déséquilibres entre les sexes. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Stiem, Larissa LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM01 20141
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
REDD+, women, sustainable forest management, feminist political ecology, sustainability science
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2014:024
funder
African Model Forest Network
funder
The Right Livelihood Award Foundation
language
English
id
4461978
date added to LUP
2014-06-10 12:42:34
date last changed
2014-06-10 12:42:34
@misc{4461978,
  abstract     = {In an effort to mitigate global climate change, the REDD+ mechanism (an acronym for ‘Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation plus the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stock’) continues to be put forward as an attractive carbon sequestration and forest conservation tool. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), hosting more than 63% of the Congo Basin rainforests, is the biggest receiver for REDD+ funding in Africa. These funds are used to improve forest governance towards sustainable forest management practices and forest conservation. In particular at the local level, these changes will affect communities’ forest resource use, forest management practices, and ultimately their livelihoods. Given the fact that the DRC scores fifth highest in the world on the Gender Inequality Index, it is unacceptable that gender issues remain peripheral in the process of setting up REDD+ governance structures. 
Therefore, my research addresses this issue of gender blindness in examining barriers to female participation in forest governance. Theories and frameworks from Feminist Political Ecology and Bina Agarwal in particular have guided the research for a deeper understanding of prevailing power relations and social norms that shape gender inequalities. Focus group discussions and individual interviews with community members in two different project sites in Equateur Province as well as field observations and expert interviews reveal socially constructed norms and perceptions on gendered forest knowledge, use and governance. 
Key findings from this study show a striking discrepancy in de facto and perceived women’s forest knowledge and activities in the forest, which nourishes men’s claims on dominant power over the use and management of forest resources. Likewise, women’s traditional exclusion from forest governance is predicated on a systematic undervaluation of their capacities. Women could be equally involved in REDD+ though. With the increased emergence of emancipative thinking and better access to education, progressive values towards gender equality challenge patriarchal norms and practices. The study’s findings show that men generally accept women’s active participation in formal forest governance institutions – even leadership – provided that the woman is sufficiently educated.
In order for the whole community, men and women alike, to benefit from REDD+ interventions, it will be crucial to understand gendered differences in use, knowledge, and control over forest resources. In particular, women’s capacities must be strengthened to empower them to participate and profit in an equal manner. Unless REDD+ activities are designed and implemented appropriately, gendered power imbalances could be deteriorated by REDD+ project activities.},
  author       = {Stiem, Larissa},
  keyword      = {REDD+,women,sustainable forest management,feminist political ecology,sustainability science},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {'Benefits beyond carbon' : for whom? : gender analysis of communal forest governance and forest resource use in the Democratic Republic of Congo},
  year         = {2014},
}