Participatory Forest Management (PFM) is a new paradigm system of forest management which is adopted and implemented in order to fulfill the interest, respecting of traditional users, and it is bottom-up approach which encourage a sense of belongingness to the rural people in forest management. This forest management approach is promoted as one way of improving the livelihoods of rural communities, whilst protecting forest resources. However, there is no comprehensive study on factors influencing of participation household heads in PFM in Sheko and Gurrafarda districts of Bench-Maji Zone, Southwestern Ethiopia. In this study, two districts (Gurrafarda and Sheko) were purposively selected on basis of experiences in PFM practice. Based on the number of PFM members and experiences in practicing PFM, two study kebeles from each district were purposively selected. For household heads’ interview, the households in the study kebeles were stratified into members and non-members. Finally, to meet the objectives of study a total of 408 sample households (50% PFM participant and 50% non-participant) were randomly interviewed from four study kebeles. Descriptive statistics and logistic were used to analyze data. The logistic regression output showed that access to extension services, marital status, benefits driven from forest, clarity of PFM and access to market information on forest products were positively and significantly influenced the participation of household head in PFM (P<0.01) and total livestock unit holding was significantly influenced the participation of household head in PFM (P<0.05). In forest dependent areas PFM is crucial in improving the livelihoods of the rural farm households. However, to realize the intended outcomes, PFM should focus providing extension services on forest resource utilization and management, clearly advocating the program as well as increasing the awareness of households on economic importance and benefits of forest.
Keywords: Annual income, Forest Management, Impact, Outcome, Participatory