Approaching Local Perceptions of Forest Governance and Livelihood Challenges with Companion Modeling from a Case Study around Zahamena National Park, Madagascar Bodonirina, Nathalie; Reibelt, Lena M.; Stoudmann, Natasha; Chamagne, Juliette; Jones, Trevor G.; Ravaka, Annick; Ranjaharivelo, Hoby V. F.; Ravonimanantsoa, Tantelinirina; Moser, Gabrielle; De Grave, Arnaud; Garcia, Claude; Ramamonjisoa, Bruno S.; Wilmé, Lucienne; Waeber, Patrick O.
Community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) is a widely used approach aimed at involving those utilizing resources in their management. In Madagascar, where forest decentralization has been implemented since the 1990s to spur local resource users’ involvement in management processes, impacts remain unclear. This study aimed to investigate farmers’ perceptions and practices regarding forest use under various forest governance systems, using a participatory gaming approach implemented in the Zahamena region of Madagascar. We report on (i) the conceptual models of the Zahamena socio-ecological system; (ii) the actual research tool in the form of a tabletop role-playing game; and (iii) main outcomes of the gaming workshops and accompanying research. The results allow the linking of game reality with real-world perceptions based on game debriefing discussions and game workshop follow-up surveys, as well as interviews and focus group research with other natural resource users from the study area. Results show that the Zahamena protected area plays the role of buffer zone by slowing down deforestation and degradation. However, this fragile barrier and CBNRM are not long-term solutions in the face of occurring changes. Rather, the solution lies in one of the main causes of the problem: agriculture. Further use of tools such as participatory gaming is recommended to enhance knowledge exchange and the development of common visions for the future of natural resource management to foster resilience of forest governance.
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