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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2006  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 102-131

From Opportunism to Resource Management: Adaptation and the Emergence of Environmental Conservation among Indigenous Swidden Cultivators on Mindoro Island, Philippines

International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), No 3, Soi 14, Sookasasem Road, Tambon Patan, Amphur Muang, Chiang Mai, 50300, Thailand

Correspondence Address:
Christian Erni
No 3, Soi 14, Sookasasem Road, Tambon Patan, Amphur Muang, Chiang Mai, 50300
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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This article presents the results of a long-term study of adaptive processes among Buhid swidden communities on Mindoro Island in the Phil­ippines. Departing from a discussion of regional variations in adaptive sys­tems, it describes the ongoing technological and institutional transformation of the resource use system in response to increasing scarcity resulting from unsustainable practices under conditions of a virtually open access to re­sources. Through a process of redefining and specifying resource ownership and use rights, the emerging system has come to rest on a distinction between individually and communally owned resources. The introduction of new crop­ping systems and the simultaneous individualisation of swidden land owner­ship led to a more intensive and sustainable land use. While some interior communities have eventually also developed resource management regimes for common property resources, Buhid communities closer to the lowlands are still grappling with the difficulties of establishing and enforcing common property regimes in a context of resource competition with the more powerful migrant settler society. Thus, the article will on the one hand identify condi­tions for and factors at play in the successful institutional and technological transformation found in some communities, and on the other hand it will point at the underlying causes of the prevailing difficulties to maintain common property management, as they are found in other communities.

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