Decentralized forest management is a pivotal approach in Ethiopia for balancing biodiversity conservation with demand for economic development, and for improving forest-dependent local peoples' livelihoods. With the aim of filling the literature gap on Ethiopia, this paper explores the dynamics of decentralization in the forestry sector using the actor-power-accountability framework. Generally, three forms of decentralization are practiced: deconcentration to government administrative branches, devolution of selected decision-making power to local people, and delegation to enterprises. Although transfer of meaningful discretionary power to local people or to downwardly accountable lower-tier governments is a precondition for achieving positive outcomes from decentralization, this prerequisite has been realized in none of the three forms decentralization. Overall, three important trends emerged from the latest decentralization reform, which was a switch from the conservation-oriented deconcentration form of decentralization to the income generation-oriented delegation form of decentralization. Those trends are as follows: monetary income generation for local people through enterprise, albeit with possible risk of being deprived of income and subsistence opportunities on which local people depend for their livelihoods; moving decision-making power away from the grassroots; and lack of incentive to manage natural forests, a major source of biodiversity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas