Posted by: Bob Payne | October 14, 2011

The discursive construction of conflict in participatory forest management: The case of the Agoua forest restoration in Benin

The Agoua Forest in Benin was declared a protected area in 1953 and subsequently managed by means of a coercion system, which, however, did not prevent its deforestation. In 2002, a participatory management process was designed to restore this forest. Although the project managers and local communities agreed to a plan at the beginning of the process, the plan was not implemented because conflict arose in the course of the process. In this paper, an interactional framing approach was used to analyse the emergence of this conflict, which ended in an impasse. This study showed that the conflict was constructed and evolved mainly in stakeholders’ discourses, even without changes in actual forest management and use. Moreover, it became clear that stakeholders constructed different frames in different conversation contexts: stakeholders, who share a set of perceptions, norms, and expectations as constructed and expressed in their talks (we-groups), constructed stereotypes and stigmas, blaming the other party and presenting themselves as innocent victims. In conversations involving all stakeholders, people did not reveal their real thoughts, either about each other or about the proposals for conflict resolution.


  1. Real challenge in participatory forest management which requires lot of patience, tact and levelheadedness from resource managers/ leaders

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