WEBINAR: Chinwe Ifejika Speranza on institutional change and forest change in west Africa


On Monday, 15th of May 2023, the PECS working group on collaborative governance and management hosted another webinar: Michael Schoon invited Chinwe Ifejika Speranza to talk about ‘Changing institutions and changing forests in West Africa? A historical examination.

This webinar examines to what extent and in what ways institutional change drives forest change in West Africa. The focus is on forests outside protected areas. The West African rainforest and forest zones are habitat for various endangered plant and animal species but are also crucial for forest-dependent livelihoods. Yet, forest fragmentation is widespread in the region and forests remain under threat of conversion to agriculture and other land uses. While the important roles of formal and informal institutions are widely acknowledged, we do not know which institutions have changed over time, which ones have persisted and why, which institutional gaps remain, and with what consequences for forests and their sustainable use. What roles did informal and formal institutions play in the past, what roles are they playing now? The researchers used a qualitative approach to examine data collected in nine agriculture-forest landscapes in Togo, Benin, Cameroon and Nigeria. Framing institutions as both structures and processes, changes in authorities and decision-making, rules and norms, other historical drivers and their consequences for forests and the sustainable use of forest resources are examined.

Chinwe Ifejika Speranza is a Professor of Geography and Sustainable Development at the Institute of Geography, University of Bern, Switzerland. She heads the research unit on land systems and sustainable land management. Her research aims to advance understanding of the interactions between land use and management, natural resources and ecosystem functioning, and how to foster sustainability in land systems.

You can listen to the recording of the webinar here.

All other past webinars hosted on behalf of the PECS Collaborative Working Group are available here.

Text by Michael Schoon/ Upload by Johanna Hofmann