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Empowered woodcutters in an impoverished forest? Local struggles around the management and the ecology of Malian mesic savannas

Abstract : As supports for a variety of uses, West African savanna landscapes have been for long the subject of negotiations and struggles. More intriguing is the consistent political use of the uncertainties over their ecological dynamics. While current ecologists are still striving to deliver comprehensive models of grass-tree coexistence, colonial foresters considered human practices as keyand detrimentaldrivers, inspiring a repressive handling of local forest uses (such as herding, shifting cultivation or woodcutting) that pervaded postcolonial forest administrations. The academic context has changed since, as radical redefinitions of carrying capacity or burning practices were sparked by works akin to political ecology. Accordingly, most West African countries have undergone processes of devolution / decentralization of natural resource management, endorsing less stringent conceptions of the sustainable use of savannas. The debate is not settled on the specific issue of woodcutting, as the social/ecological links between a rising urban demand for charcoal and the potential harvesting pressures on savanna landscapes have not yet been fully specified. Our contribution will be based on a cross-analysis of forest surveys and ethnographies of woodcutters' practices in a village in the outskirts of Bamako, Mali. We will demonstrate: (i) That the determinants of spatial dynamics of harvesting are driven both by ecological and access constraints; (ii) How para-ecological notions of degradation' and quality' are instrumentalized (in our case by foresters, customary authorities and woodcutters involved in the setting up of a village-based management scheme), promoting opportunistic behaviors of harvesters, potentially followed by a relegation in marginal lands.
Mots-clés : MALI
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Conference papers
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Contributor : Migration Irstea Publications <>
Submitted on : Friday, May 15, 2020 - 5:25:27 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, March 25, 2021 - 3:31:58 AM


  • HAL Id : hal-02593523, version 1
  • IRSTEA : PUB00029397



B. Hautdidier, D. Gautier. Empowered woodcutters in an impoverished forest? Local struggles around the management and the ecology of Malian mesic savannas. Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, Apr 2010, Washington, United States. pp.37. ⟨hal-02593523⟩



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