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Usufruct rights to trees: the role of Ekwar in dryland central Turkana, Kenya

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Usufruct rights to trees (Ekwar) in the Turkana silvo-pastoral system are an important aspect of natural resource management, particularly in the drier central parts of Kenya. Originating from a participatory forestry extension program, a survey was carried out that showed the extent and duration, often in excess of one generation, of occupancy of a person's Ekwar. Such rights center around the dry season fodder resources, especially of Acacia tortilis. However they are not definite and are linked to risk-spreading by flexibility in livestock management and the need that they be maintained through efficient usage and social linkages. Hitherto, such natural resource management systems have all but been ignored in the development process in favor of the “tragedy of the commons” paradigm. Likewise, pastoral development has tended to emphasize range and water, while trees are not given the attention they deserve. This endangers the resilience of the system, and it is therefore important that development works with, not against, such environmentally-sound practices to try to make them more sustainable in the long term.

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    drylands, land tenure, livestock, pastoralism, trees



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