Participatory Forest Management and Actor Role Dependency in Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Reserve, Kenya
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Conservation management of state-controlled forests has shifted away from strict, centralized management by incorporating community-based co-management initiatives. Often termed participatory forest management, these initiatives include local residents in forest planning, implementation, and management. This thesis examines two case studies located at the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Reserve, Kenya. The case studies illustrate how imbalances of power establish participant (actor) roles through policies set by governments and NGOs. Power imbalances are perpetuated through hegemonies of postcolonialism that reinforce actor role perceptions. Awareness and understanding of role perceptions is paramount in participatory conservation initiatives that benefit both the physical environment and community development. Analyzing histories of past conservation initiatives with assessments of current and perceived future issues may reduce unrealistic role expectations. Examining actor role contributions at multiple scales of power is necessary. Reflection upon how roles influence perceptions may decrease failures of conservation initiatives involving affluent global donors and marginalized local communities.