Collective Action, Property Rights and Bamboo Deforestation in Benishangul-Gumuz Region, Ethiopia

Semeneh Bessie Desta


Benishangul-Gumuz Region is known as the land of lowland bamboo accounting for about 56 percent of bamboo forest in Ethiopia. However, bamboo deforestation has become a serious problem threatening the biodiversity and the people who depend on bamboo income. The purpose of this study is, therefore, to examine perceptions of smallholder farmers toward bamboo deforestation, identify the driving forces behind bamboo deforestation and evaluate the roles of collective action and property rights in overcoming the problem. Data were obtained from a sample of 384 households selected using multistage stratified random sampling techniques. Factor analysis, descriptive statistics and econometric were employed to estimate households’ perception, interdependence of perceived effects of bamboo deforestation, intensity of deforestation and participation in collective action, respectively. The study revealed that farmers in the study area participate in three types of collective forest management initiatives: participation in conservation of the forest, participation in hazard management and joint participation in bamboo conservation and hazard management. These strategies were found to be helpful in reducing the rate of deforestation. The factor analysis identified 3-latent factors (perceived economic, environmental and social effects) of bamboo deforestation and illustrated that an array of impact indicators exist. The SUR model estimation results of households’ perception showed that economic, environmental and social effects of bamboo deforestation were positivity interdependent, and influenced by four common underlying variables. Tobit regression results indicated that proximity from bamboo area, duration in the study area, knowledge of the resource condition and participation in collective action played positive role in curbing the intensity of bamboo deforestation. Multinomial probit model results revealed that age of the household heads, household size, settlement condition, access to information, strength of social capital and networking, and secure property right positively influence households participation decision in collective action. Analysis of bamboo property rights change and effects of the change on bamboo forest revealed the existence of intensive competition between large-scale investors, government organizations, bamboo smugglers and the local communities over bamboo forest. The result showed that political factors seem to be the main driving force behind property rights change. Transferring traditional bamboo use rights from local community to the private investors have undergone some adverse effects including ownership disputes, occurrence of frequent bushfire and bamboo forest degradation. The findings generally indicate the need to strengthen forest tenure rights and collective action institutions to manage local bamboo resources effectively.

Keywords: Bamboo deforestation, household perception, collective action, property rights, Ethiopia.

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