Transgressing Boundaries. Gendered Spaces, Species, and Indigenous Forest Management in Uganda

G. Nabanoga

Research output: Book/ReportReportAcademic


All over the world, professional foresters and scientists concerned with resource conservation have supposed that forest management is dependent on the establishment of legal boundaries based upon a strong notion of property (especially State and private) that define ‘bundles of rights’ or prohibitions for forest resource use. Local forest users, on the other hand, may also recognise their own sets of social norms or ‘morals’ that regulate access to land and forest resources found in various landscape niches. These norms affect their action and behaviour in using and managing these resources. Under local norms land-based resources such as plants, trees or crops can often be accessed separate from any rights in land that may exist. The ‘moral’ and behavioural norms are everywhere defined at least partly according to gender. This study investigates the gendered nature of access to and use and management of forested landscapes and forest resources among the Buganda living in central Uganda. Many factors influence people’s rights and obligations to use and manage different species in different forested landscape spaces. Both kinship relations, intra-community and intra-household power relations, social obligations and cosmological beliefs play an important role in defining who has what types of rights. They create multiple access, use and management boundaries for different spaces, species, products, and product uses. Formally the State and male peasants own land and trees, which creates a set of legal boundaries. When using and managing locally-valued species these boundaries are continuously transgressed. Such informal access is associated with the local norms of access that associates certain species and certain uses more with one sex than the other. The act of transgressing legal boundaries therefore simultaneously means respecting boundaries as set by local beliefs and social rules and rights. The study concludes that for understanding such complex and context-specific local perspectives on access, use and management of plant resources in forested landscapes requires the transgression of conventional disciplinary boundaries.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationWageningen
Number of pages227
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Publication series

NameTropical resource management papers
ISSN (Print)0926-9495


  • forest management
  • indigenous knowledge
  • forest resources
  • socioeconomics
  • local population
  • species
  • ethnobotany
  • uganda
  • gender

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