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Youth and Collective Action in Forested Areas

H. Carolyn Peach Brown

University of Prince Edward Island, Canada

Africa represents the world’s youngest region with half of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa being under the age of ten, and the entire continent has a median age of 25 years. The number of young people will continue to grow and is not expected to peak for 20 years. Although better educated than their parents, young men and women are chronically unemployed or in vulnerable work positions. While the majority of young people live in rural areas, these issues have sometimes resulted in large scale migration from rural to urban areas. In forested areas, those who remain are often highly dependent on the forest commons for goods and services as a source of livelihood. This includes forest-based agriculture or agroforestry systems, firewood, collection of non-timber forest products, hunting, and the marketing of other environmental assets. Some have recognized the importance and potential of engaging youth in collective action in the sustainable management of forest commons. They bring energy, enthusiasm, innovative ideas, a long-term perspective, and resilience. However, despite their large numbers and an important stake in the long term sustainable management of forest resources, young men and women are often not included in collective decision-making. Based on field research and a review of the literature, this presentation will review strategies and research needs for increasing the inclusion of youth in collective action in forested areas.

Jeunesse et action collective dans les zones boisées

H. Carolyn Peach Brown

Université de l'Île-du-Prince-Édouard, Canada

L’Afrique représente la région la plus jeune du monde, la moitié de la population de l’Afrique subsaharienne ayant moins de dix ans, et l’ensemble du continent a un âge médian de 25 ans. Le nombre de jeunes continuera de croître et ne devrait pas culminer avant 20 ans. Bien que mieux instruits que leurs parents, les jeunes hommes et femmes sont chroniquement au chômage ou occupent des postes de travail vulnérables. Alors que la majorité des jeunes vivent dans des zones rurales, ces problèmes ont parfois entraîné une migration à grande échelle des zones rurales vers les zones urbaines. Dans les zones boisées, ceux qui restent dépendent souvent fortement des biens communs et des services forestiers comme source de revenus. Cela comprend l’agriculture forestière ou les systèmes agroforestiers, le bois de chauffage, la collecte de produits forestiers non ligneux, la chasse et la commercialisation d’autres actifs environnementaux. Certains ont reconnu l’importance et le potentiel de l’engagement des jeunes dans l’action collective dans la gestion durable des biens communs forestiers. Ils apportent énergie, enthousiasme, idées innovantes, perspective à long terme et résilience. Cependant, malgré leur grand nombre et un enjeu important dans la gestion durable à long terme des ressources forestières, les jeunes hommes et femmes ne sont souvent pas inclus dans la prise de décision collective. Sur la base de recherches sur le terrain et d’une revue de la littérature, cette présentation passera en revue les stratégies et les besoins de recherche pour accroître l’inclusion des jeunes dans l’action collective dans les zones forestières.

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3 Responses

  1. An interesting angle on youth engagement H. Carolyn. Would it be possible to directly target the older generation as they are the ones enforcing norms on land allocation which negatively affect the youth who might be interested in farming?

    In your your study did you also find out what the youth’s vision is on collective action?

    Thank you.

  2. An interesting angle on youth engagement H. Carolyn. Would it be possible to directly target the older generation as they are the ones enforcing norms on land allocation which negatively affect the youth who might be interested in farming?

    In your study did you also find out what the youth’s vision is on collective action?

    Thank you.

    1. Dear Dr. Mapedza

      Thank you for taking the time to view my presentation. I am sorry for taking so long to reply. Some of the research presented was conducted by my Masters student. She did look at youth involvement in community forest management which was very limited as was presented. Youth want to have a voice in decision-making around community forests. However, she did not incorporate specific strategies in her research to help youth envision exactly what their role would be in collective action. The youth just did not want to be excluded.
      In a book chapter based on a literature search that I just completed, I highlight some strategies used in other countries to try to bring older and younger generations together. I do feel that it is necessary to work with older generations to help adapt governance institutions so that the younger generation and their concerns are included. Changing cultural norms are never easy any where! As we found in our study and was noted in some of the literature, if youth are organized and demonstrate their leadership ability in that way to elders, that can lead to better integration of youth into community decision-making structures.

      Thank you for your interest!
      Carolyn Brown

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