Lukas Affentranger, MA


Lukas did his BA in History and Geography at the University of Basel before embarking on the Master programme African Studies in 2008. In the course of his studies he spent a semester at the Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo and conducted research for the master thesis both in the archives of Maputo and in the rural areas of Cabo Delgado province. Furthermore he did two professional internships in Mozambique in 2006 (Swiss Labour Assistance, Chimoio) and 2008 (Solidarmed, Chiure).

A research assistanceship in the “Statehood & Conflict” programme of the Swiss Peace Foundation (swisspeace) in Bern brought him back to Mozambique for research in the framework of the project "Development Myths in Practice: The "Feminization" of Anti-Poverty Policies and International Organisations" funded by the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS), in collaboration with the University of Lausanne.

Since Sept. 2011 is a PhD candidate in the project “Science and Society in Southern Africa: A History” at the chair for African History, University of Basel and affiliated with the Basel Graduate School of History.

MA Thesis

From "The Native Is The Enemy Of The Forest" Towards "Community Based Natural Resources Management": A History Of Forest Exploitation In Mozambique

This thesis contributes to the research on forestry history in Africa. It draws the history of forest exploitation in Mozambique from around 1900 up to the present time. The sources employed include written documents and information gathered with participative research methods during field research in three villages of Cabo Delgado Province in northern Mozambique. The work is structured according to the three main groups of stakeholders which dominated the way forests were used over time: the state, commercial timber companies and the local communities living in or near the forests. Around 1900 the Portuguese protected certain forest areas in order to secure the supply for timber for the industries. At the same time hunting regulations were intended to protect large mammals for European sport hunters. In the 1930s colonial scientists started to plea for more effective measures to protect the forests which were perceived to vanish at a rapid speed. The main reasons for the forest destruction were seen in improper and illegal commercial timber exploitation and most of all in the backward and uncivilised production methods of "the indigenous". The protection of the forests became a marker of civilisation and of an advanced type of colonialism. Africans were excluded from any decision-making process concerning the environment surrounding them.

Internal factors and external pressure on the Portuguese colonial system led to increased conservation measures in the 1940s. In 1955 a decree on nature protection in all Portuguese colonies was published which for the first time took into account the interrelatedness of soil, flora and fauna. Commercial timber exploitation only became a significant economic factor during the Second World War. After independence the forestry sector broke down and policies concerning forest use, which still excluded the people living in the forests, were not implemented. Affairs changed in the 1990s with the recovery of the timber industry and a policy making process which involved representatives of rural communities and recognized the important role local communities play in forest management. The enforcement of the law is problematic and generally criticised as very poor, an issue already manifold raised during colonial times about forestry or hunting regulations.

Local communities always tightly interacted with the natural environment surrounding them. Forest products are essential to people's livelihoods. A range of products are extracted, mainly for self-use and consumption according to gender, profession, ethnic affiliation, and social an economic status. The main threats to forest regeneration are the uncontrolled fires and illegal logging. The increased timber exploitation and the new forestry and wildlife legislation have manifold effects on the communities living within the timber-concession. It seems that the existing power relations are reinforced by the share of tax revenues paid to the communities since these revenues are mainly controlled by members of the leading structure.