Conservation, forest resources and sustainable rural livelihoods : a case study of Saint Bernard Community, KwaZulu-Natal.
Buthelezi, Dumisani Lucas.
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There is a growing body of literature that outlines a contemporary view of the role of forests and forestry in rural development. The most common argument highlighted by the contemporary literature indicates that forests provide a wide variety of important products, both for subsistence purposes and as sources of income. This study is based on the premise that an understanding of the issues that relate to access and utilization of forest resources and their management cannot be neglected in the field of rural development, more especially in the African context wherein much of the population is still defined as rural dwellers. Furthermore, given the paradigm shifts that have been witnessed in both the approaches to rural development and natural resource management over the years, it is necessary to examine how forestry has responded to new demands, particularly in relation to its contribution to rural livelihoods. This study intended to examine the conservation and management of forest resources and their impact on sustaining rural livelihoods by using the case study of the Saint Bernard community in the Nhlazuka village in Richmond, KwaZulu-Natal province. In Saint Bernard, a communal system of managing community resources such as trees and forests forms an integral part of decision-making. The study looked at the management of both the natural and plantation forests and their impact on the livelihoods of rural communities, especially in communally owned areas. Given the nature of this study, both qualitative and quantitative methods of social science research were employed to generate data relating to the research objectives and questions. Qualitative participatory techniques used include the ranking exercise, mental mapping and venn diagram. Quantitative data was mainly obtained through a questionnaire survey. The primary data was supplemented with the secondary data relating to the focus of this study.