Changing forest management strategies in Sudan : a challenge for forestry educational systems

S.S. Mahir

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


<br/>This study is an effort to understand the way various categories of social actors go about their interaction with the management of forest resources in Sudan. By providing an overview and description of the motives, perceptions, and management objectives and strategies of social actors, the study tries to contribute towards better understanding of the social, economic and cultural factors influencing the resource management. The specific objectives of this study include:<br/>(1) Investigation of how social actors interact with forest resources in an era of rapidly changing conditions.<br/>(2) Get a better understanding of how changes in management objectives and strategies are influencing and are influenced by knowledge processes.<br/>(3) Analyze present forestry education's curriculum.<br/>(4) Explore possibilities of incorporating what we learn during the course of this study to propose a model for development of curriculum for forestry education in Sudan.<p>This dissertation is written on the basis of empirical data collected from various individuals, groups and institutions involved in forest resources management in Sudan. The field work for the study was carried out mainly in the Central region of Sudan. However, the author's own experiences and those of other officials who worked in other locations, made the scope of the study not limited to geographical boundaries of the region.<p>For the data collection, a combination of methodological instruments such as discussions, semi-structured interviews and participant observation, were used iteratively. Besides, taking a social actor as a unit of analysis, the study has used a hybrid of the systems' and the actors' perspectives as the main analytical tool.<p>The main findings of this study indicate that:<p>First, whereas, a forest is the unit of concern for officials, it is the tree which draws villagers' attention more than the forest as such. However, in general social actors see trees and forests as sources and signs of life. Besides, various actors attach different social, economic and/or cultural meanings to trees/forests. Consequently, they develop varying management objectives and strategies. In this regard, this study shows that similarity between foresters' and villagers' objectives is the exception rather than the rule. Foresters' management objectives are focused on management of forests for provision of forest goods and services for the nation, whereas villagers keep trees for social-cultural-spiritual-economic reasons, but rarely for firewood alone. Sometimes, what is important for villagers is seen as of 'minor importance' to foresters.<p>Second, villagers traditionally, did not care about ownership of forests. However, ownership of valued-trees was well known. Notwithstanding such a situation, the government in Sudan intervened to manage the resource. Nonetheless, abolishment of the traditional Native Administrative system together with many other factors led to the situation where the state was unable to manage the resources on a sustainable basis. Hence, some of the tree/forest resources acquired the characteristics of the unowned, none-property resources.<p>Third, most of the foresters see forest management mainly as consisting of a series of context-free technical activities, while villagers perform trees/forests management as part and parcel of their overall land use.<p>Fourth, this study exposes social actors' appreciation concerning positive changes in each other's attitudes and behaviours and their willingness to manage forest resources jointly. Nevertheless, villagers and their leaders as well as officials have to be aware of and prepared for their new rights and responsibilities.<p>Fifth, this study manifests that the formal forestry knowledge in Sudan is based on the assumption that wood is the main product. In most of their experiments forestry researchers look mainly into wood, and did not pay enough attention to non-timber- products. In addition, extension officers tend to disseminate unified, ready-made messages to various clients' segments. As well, in spite of the shown appreciation of local people's forestry knowledge, foresters rarely take villagers' observations and comments seriously.<p>Sixth, women are becoming increasingly involved in forestry activities and the number of female foresters is increasing. Taking into consideration the fact that the rural Sudanese culture in many places does not allow easy interaction between male extension officers and village women, the need for female forestry extension officers seems to be well understood.<p>Seventh, the following are among the learning points in relation to villagers' knowledge activities as depicted from this study:<br/>(1) For villagers researching and learning are inseparable. Deploying their surrounding environment in its totality, villagers carefully observe and learn experientially.<br/>(2) Local people's knowledge is embedded into different kinds of rituals and spiritual beliefs.<br/>(3) Villagers do not tend to reach to consensus and unified kind of knowledge and solutions.<br/>(4) Villagers normally exchange information among themselves during greetings; direct and indirect asking; certain occasions and locations such as funerals, market places and days, and religious/cultural feasts.<p>Eighth, the findings of this study reveal that none of social actors alone has the technical/managerial capacity pertinent to sustainable management of forest resources. The necessary knowledge base is rather fragmented and unevenly scattered among different actors. Hence, we argued that in the absence of a suitable knowledge and information system, appropriate management of forest resources will be difficult. Forestry education has a role to play in facilitation of such knowledge and information system. Nonetheless, many economic, didactical and organizational problems remain as constraints for present institutions to perform better roles.<p>Ninth, the results of this study came to support the idea that education is but one element which influences foresters' attitudes and behaviour. In reality, foresters' performance is determined by a composite of inter-related factors such as the work environment. Under the prevailing situation, learners and educators have neither enough time nor good motivation for creation of favourable learning environments.<p>The main recommendations of this study are:<br/>(1) Foresters should take other social actors' perceptions, knowledge and management objectives into consideration when deciding about official management objectives and strategies.<br/>(2) Forestry educational institutions will and should have a role to play in facilitating various forest resources managers getting around a platform and discuss, learn and coordinate their resources to manage the resources on a sustainable basis. However, before being able to play such a role, they should start to see their roles as "experts' bureaux", but instead try to develop networking institutions.<br/>(3) Moreover, in an era of fast change, forest managers should learn more about learning. Nevertheless, to facilitate such kinds of learning, forestry educational institutions need to restructure their curricula involving other social actors and create channels for ongoing monitoring.<br/>(4) However, all the above mentioned requirements will be of limited effect in the absence of an overall conducive environment. Again, educators should not wait for these improvements to come, instead they should work very hard for the creation of such a conducive educational and learning environment.<p>As a contribution towards development of such educational and learning environment, a model for forestry curriculum development has been proposed.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • van den Bor, W., Promotor
  • Röling, N.G., Promotor
Award date20 Feb 1996
Place of PublicationS.l.
Print ISBNs9789054854951
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • forestry
  • forest management
  • theory
  • sustainability
  • yields
  • forestry practices
  • socioeconomics
  • extension
  • education
  • social forestry
  • land use
  • tenure systems
  • afforestation
  • indigenous knowledge
  • social change
  • sudan
  • social processes


Dive into the research topics of 'Changing forest management strategies in Sudan : a challenge for forestry educational systems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this