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Problem Solving Approach Report

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Problem Solving Approach Report

Introduction

“Trees of Sogolonbougou” is a case study that reveals the conflicts between the villagers of Sogolonbougou and the forest service. The villagers resented the environmental laws that the forest agencies tried to enforce in order to protect the environment. This is because many environmental areas especially those that were forested had been destroyed by villagers. The human activities that the Sogolonbougou villagers practiced led to destruction of the environment through increased soil erosion and loss of important animal and tree species. The villagers practiced traditional shifting cultivation practices whereby they slashed and burned the forest in order to prepare for farming. Thus, the conflicts arose between the forest services and the villagers because the villagers refused to follow the laws imposed on them. The laws included issues such as control of hunting and cutting down of trees, control of bush burning as well as invasion of personal property. The villagers disrespected the law because they depended on shifting agriculture for their survival.

Facts pertaining to the case

The case involved critical environmental issues that were facing the Sogolonbougou villagers. They wanted to continue shifting cultivation because it did not involve a lot of human labor. Furthermore, it was easier for them to prepare their land for planting crops using this method because it saved time. The government decided to pass a national forest law that forbade the use of fires in clearing land for preparing agricultural fields, as well as statutes outlining hunting regulations. The villagers felt that their property ownership rights have been violated. Therefore, they decided to violate the forestry laws including restrictions on bush burning, protection of endangered tree and animal species as well as prohibitions on cutting trees. The government then decided to impose heavy fines on those people who were found violating these forestry laws.

The fact is that the Sogolonbougou villagers depended on shifting cultivation for their livelihood and there was no way they could have stopped cutting down trees. This is because of the ever-expanding population; thus, the only solution was to cut down trees in order to expand agriculture. Bush fallow practices were commonly practiced by villagers. Despite its negative impact, the ash from fire contributed some nutrients to the soil. The villagers had to practice extensive farming in order to get food for survival. Thus, the proposed solution to these problems was to find better alternatives such as labor-efficient farming methods to villagers or encouraging them to engage in new project developments such as livestock keeping.

Moreover, the area is located in a semi-arid climate that receives less rainfall and high temperatures throughout the year thus favoring drought resistant crops. The area is characterized by poor soil, further contributing to less food production. Hence, the only solution was to utilize bush fallow fields by burning them in order to plant more crops and it was the simple, faster and less laborious method. The alternative method of farming by hand seemed to be labor intensive. The primary crop planted was the pearl millet because it tolerates high temperatures and it can survive in poor soils. The villagers incorporated cowpeas in their farming and this was intercropped with millet as well as tomatoes, onions, tobacco and corn in some irrigated fields.

Decision makers

There were several major stakeholders in a position of making decisions. First, the forest service agents were fundamental decision makers because they were responsible for enforcing forest laws that were supposed to be followed by villagers. In such situations, their role is to ensure that the villagers have followed those laws and put them into practice. Consequently, the forest service agents play the key role in making decisions. They formulate laws and make decisions on the way those laws should be followed. The forest agents also make decisions on what kind of steps to take against those who violate the law. Secondly, the other decision makers are the villagers. This is because they are the people who can be affected directly by the laws that may be imposed on them. They are the individuals who carry out human activities that lead to environmental consequences such as soil erosion and extinction of endangered animal and plant species. Therefore, they are part of decision makers because they can decide whether to pay fines or go to jail if found guilty of contravening the law. They can be part of the decision making process because they may decide to change their method of agricultural practices and find alternative ways of practicing agriculture.

Goals of decision makers

The goals the forest service agents were concerned with in decision-making were diverse. First, they wanted to restrict villagers from hunting. This is because hunting led to extinction of rare animal species living in the forest, which were difficult to replace. The forest agents were concerned with ensuring that this goal had to be achieved through laying down strict laws to villagers. Secondly, restricting villagers from burning the forest was another goal by the forest agents. This is because burning forest for agriculture practices leaves the soil bare thus exposing it to soil erosion, eliminating seedlings of fire-tender tree species as well as changing characteristics of natural vegetation. The forest agents have more control on the forest even if the forest lies on private property because they understand better the environmental impact that will arise if these goals are not achieved.

The goals of the villagers were varied. First, their goal was to protect their private property. This is because the land that was put under agriculture belonged to them. They wanted to utilize it according to their preferences without any interference from the forest agencies. Secondly, they wanted to continue with their extensive farming that was necessary to provide adequate food for their village. Even though some of them were aware of the environmental consequences of using traditional method of farming, the ever-increasing population required more resources for their survival. Thus, they did not want to deviate from achieving their goals unless the alternatives were found.

Alternatives

There are possible alternatives in practicing agriculture apart from shifting cultivation. First, employing other farming practices such as agro-forestry can be beneficial as opposed to sole dependency on shifting cultivation. This is because agro-forestry enables the villagers to combine good forestry practices and food production. This will enable them to improve on food production as well as avoid destroying the forested areas. Secondly, providing labor-efficient farming methods to farmers is crucial. This use of modern farming technologies will enable the farmers to improve from their traditional way of farming improving food production. Thirdly, it may be necessary to gazette the forest area and resettle the villagers in another section that is not covered by the forest. This will reduce the villagers’ interference with the forestland. Fourthly, the use of alternative method of preparing agricultural fields for farming such as use of tractors in digging extensive lands will be beneficial as opposed to burning the bush areas thus preventing soil organic matter from being destroyed. Lastly, converting land into livestock projects acts as another alternative especially in offering villagers a way of earning a living.

Evaluation

First, employing other farming practices such as agro-forestry will enable the villagers to meet their demanding needs of continuing to produce more food for the village. The agro-forestry alternative will help the forestry agencies become satisfied since the villagers will no longer use the bush burning method that will destroy the forest. Secondly, the introduction of labor-efficient farming methods and livestock keeping programs will enable the villagers find better ways of sustaining their lives. This will create a good relationship with the forest agencies because villagers will reduce hunting for forest animals for their source of food. Thirdly, relocating villagers and placing the forestland under written protection will enable the forest agencies achieve their goals of controlling the wooded area from being destroyed. Fourthly, use of tractors in preparing land rather than use of fire will help villagers to work faster, and thus continue to produce more food. It will also reduce conflicts with the forest agencies because the villagers will stop burning the forest and maintain their property. Lastly, converting land to other uses such as livestock project implementation will enable villagers to get other means of surviving. The proposed options may not fully satisfy all the decision makers but the best option is encouraging agro-forestry practices and livestock project implementation as the alternatives.

Monitoring

In case the best options were implemented such as agro-forestry and livestock practices, I will continue monitoring these new practices. I will determine if these practices have been successfully achieved through confirming whether people no longer practice shifting cultivation. I will examine the kind of lifestyle people are living, which entails confirming whether they are able to get satisfaction from the chosen options. Additionally, I will monitor the state of the forest and if it is regenerating. This will help me to determine if the options are working satisfactorily. In case they are not working well, I will look for another alternative that will meet every decision-maker’s goals.

Conclusion

The case study of Sogolonbougou is conflicting because the villagers do not want to respect the forestry laws. The major stakeholders in a position to make decisions pertaining to a possible decision were the villagers and the forestry agencies. Some of the goals the forest service agents were concerned with were to control hunting and restrict villagers from burning the forest. The goals of the villagers were to protect their properties and continue to produce more food to sustain their village. Additionally, there are possible alternative ways such as employing agro-forestry practices, use of tractors as an alternative clearing land with fire, and the implementation of a livestock program.

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