Title: Perceptions and attitudes of local stakeholders towards the forest co-management approach: A case study of communities surrounding Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve in Mulanje district, Malawi

Author(s): Leonard Gondwe
Final project
Year of publication:
Forest co-management, stakeholder perceptions and attitudes, benefit-sharing scheme, biosphere reserve, Malawi


Gaining an in-depth understanding of the perspectives and attitudes of local people toward conservation of forests is key to achieving effective and long-term sustainable forest resource management. This paper examined the perceptions and attitudes of local people surrounding the Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve in Malawi toward the forest co-management approach. The study explored the efficacy of the co-management model as a participatory forest governance tool. Individual semi-structured interviews were administered to thirteen participants, which included ten representatives of the local communities and three representatives of implementing agencies, selected through purposive sampling. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the collected data. The research findings revealed that the local people held positive perceptions and attitudes toward the co-management system of the forest reserve. The study further revealed that various challenges encountered during the implementation have negatively impacted the efficacy of the current co-management system. Weak forest law enforcement strategies, lack of accountability in the benefit-sharing scheme, and the top-down information flow were some of the key challenges affecting the implementation of the co-management model. Success of the co-management model as a participatory forest management tool could be achieved if the perceptions and attitudes of local people regarding forest governance are considered in the planning and implementation of forest management strategies. The study suggests that strong multi-stakeholder collaboration is vital for the co-management approach to achieve sustainable forest management while uplifting the livelihoods of the people living close to the forests.

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