Tree-Based Conflict Management Mechanism Among Small Landholders in Agroforestry Systems of Kenya
Afforestation programs are challenged by competition for land uses. Land use conflicts arise whenever there is divergent use, access and management of the resource or due to incompatible use and inadequate policy. Agroforestry may reconcile competing interests. However, small landholdings remain a challenge due to the negative ecological and economic impacts of most economically preferred trees for agroforestry systems. Such negative impacts lead to the emergence of conflict among different land users and in most instances, slows down afforestation efforts on the farm. This study intended to explore conflicts arising from on-farm tree-planting and other land use practices, to identify the conflict resolution mechanism adopted by land users and to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses in conflict management. Mixed method approach of structured and semi-structured interviews was employed in Bobasi, Kisii County, Kenya. Content analysis, means, frequencies and cross-tabulations were done. Results indicated that small landholdings coupled with poor agroforestry practices were the main source of conflict driven by the ready market for trees of high economic values but with negative ecological impact. Conflict management mechanisms adopted were mainly cooperative methods such as voluntary negotiations between tree farmers and crop owners. These included adopting silvicultural control measures, benefit sharing of tree stems along the boundaries and compensation mechanisms for losses incurred by crop owners. Right based management mechanisms were also noted among other land users who believed that what they did with their land and compound was their business and so exhibited competitive approaches such as avoidance, coercion, and adjudication.
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