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2009| July-September | Volume 7 | Issue 3
June 28, 2010
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Comparing the Effectiveness of Informal and Formal Institutions in Sustainable Common Pool Resources Management in Sub-Saharan Africa
Mastewal Yami, Christian Vogl, Michael Hauser
July-September 2009, 7(3):153-164
This article compares the effectiveness of informal and formal institutions for sustainable common pool resources (CPRs) management in Sub-Saharan Africa and investigates the social, political and demographic conditions that influence the institutions' effectiveness. By focusing on publications addressing micro-level CPR management, a comprehensive literature review was conducted. Articles were grouped, based on the main themes of the study, including types of institutions and conditions that influence their effectiveness. A qualitative meta-analysis was conducted using a deductive coding approach. The results revealed that informal institutions have contributed to sustainable CPR management by creating a suitable environment for joint decision-making, enabling exclusion at low cost for CPR users and using locally agreed sanctions. Although the published evidence suggested less support to formal institutions under decentralised governmental reforms, they played an important role in implementing technologies for sustainable CPR management. Conditions that influence the effectiveness of both types of institutions include high population growth on limited CPRs, the growing scarcity of CPRs due to land use change and the lack of human and financial capacities. Improving the conditions that hinder the contributions of both types of institutions is crucial to enhance the institutions' effectiveness in sustainable CPR management. Moreover, policies and development interventions should strengthen the involvement of well-functioning informal institutions in decision-making so that sustainable CPR management can be achieved.
'A Disgrace to a Farmer': Conservation and Agriculture on a Nature Reserve in Islay, Scotland
July-September 2009, 7(3):165-175
This article is an investigation into contestations about the landscape of Loch Gruinart, a nature reserve managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) on the Scottish island of Islay. Farmers argued that the low-lying areas of the reserve should have been farmed more intensively to support higher numbers of geese, which farmers disliked because they caused damage to their own grass crops. Instead, the RSPB managed the land to support wetland species through less intensive agricultural practices and by flooding fields. The article takes a symbolic approach that focuses on the ambiguity of Loch Gruinart as both a farm and nature reserve. It is argued that this enables the reserve to be used as a metaphor of relations between conservation and farming. The article demonstrates how farmers used the reserve both to situate themselves and to claim that the reserve was not a real farm. In response, RSPB staff argued for the logic of their management and advocated education and community involvement as a means to help farmers understand their aims. Such controversies, it is argued, are a consequence of conservationists' attempts to bring non-humans into the political arena and can thus be seen as essential to the integration of conservation into Islay rather than inimical to it.
The Deepest Cut: Political Ecology in the Dredging of a New Sea Mouth in Chilika Lake, Orissa, India
July-September 2009, 7(3):192-204
This paper explores the political and historical ecology surrounding the 2002 dredging of a new sea mouth in Chilika Lake, India. It contends that the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and mathematical flow models advanced an 'environmental orthodoxy' that coalesced around the narrative of a rapidly 'shifting sea mouth'. This orthodoxy ignored historical evidence of the importance of seasonal flooding to the ecosystem's health and discounted the fishing communities' concerns regarding the introduction of prawn aquaculture. The product of over two centuries of flood control policies, this hydrological intervention has freed up waterlogged soils for cultivation and produced favourable conditions for the further spread of prawn aquaculture in the lake. While ostensibly engineered to improve the lake's ecology and benefit the fishing communities, this paper argues that the much-touted intervention has unsettled a slew of ecological relationships and primarily benefited the lake's agricultural communities. Most recently, unanticipated declines in the fishery have led to calls for further studies and government interventions. This research contends that successive attempts to engineer solutions for Chilika and its watershed are precisely what necessitate additional interventions. At the same time, it questions the Indian government's claim that the dredging of a new sea mouth was both necessary and scientifically sound.
Decentralisation and Water Resources Management in the Indian Himalayas: The Contribution of New Institutional Theories
July-September 2009, 7(3):176-191
The current debate on decentralisation offers a polarised view on the dynamic power relations involved in water resources management. Drawing New Institutionalism as applied in the social and ecological sciences, the paper argues that decentralisation represents a complex adaptive process that involves a combination of natural and a political endeavour by actors and agents to draw on existing structures to negotiate and renegotiate the existing unequal power relations to (mis)manage water. Examining a Village in the Indian Himalayas as a case study, the paper demonstrates the significance of New Institutionalism for a comprehensive understanding of the decentralisation as a process, with an intention to identify the opportunities and barriers presented by institutional factors on water resources management. The paper reveals the contemporary top-down decentralised reforms though has helped actors to voice their concern and empowered the agents to remain adaptive, these have not ensured resource use efficiency, addressed poverty and promoted greater participation of the actors. Facilitating these will require a strengthening the role of statutory public organisations to regulate water distribution, build capacity of actors and offer diverse forums to facilitate informed water-related decisions for a sustainable future.
Benefits of Biotic Pollination for Non-Timber Forest Products and Cultivated Plants
Shiny Rehel, Anita Varghese, Nicola Bradbear, Priya Davidar, Stuart Roberts, Pratim Roy, Simon G Potts
July-September 2009, 7(3):213-219
Biodiversity supplies multiple goods and services to society and is critical for the support of livelihoods across the globe. Many indigenous people depend upon non-timber forest products (NTFP) and crops for a range of goods including food, medicine, fibre and construction materials. However, the dependency of these products on biotic pollination services is poorly understood. We used the biologically and culturally diverse Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve in India to characterise the types of NTFP and crop products of 213 plant species and asses their degree of dependency on animal pollination. We found that 80 per cent of all species benefited from animal pollination in their reproduction, and that 62 per cent of crop products and 40 per cent of NTFP benefited from biotic pollination in their production. Further we identified the likely pollinating taxa documented as responsible for the production of these products, mainly bees and other insects. A lower proportion of indigenous plant products (39 per cent) benefited from biotic pollination than products from introduced plants (61 per cent). We conclude that pollinators play an important role in the livelihoods of people in this region.
Community-based Conservation in Action: What does it Really Imply in Terms of Investment?
Lisa Ernoul, Raphael Mathevet, Nicolas Beck, Laurianne Legeay
July-September 2009, 7(3):205-212
Community-based conservation is generally implemented on public land and aims to empower local people in the management process. Within the Biosphere Reserve of Camargue (Rhone river delta, southern France), a private research centre on Mediterranean wetland conservation has changed this structure and has attempted to implement a community-based conservation project on its private land. The motivation behind this decision is based on the need to improve wetland conservation and the local public acceptance of the wetland research centre. The project methodology has been adapted from the integrated coastal zone management framework, with the aim of balancing conservation, local development, and social adhesion objectives. This article analyses the results of this project and the cost-benefits of such an endeavour from a private landowner's perspective. This study can help other private landowners or organisations developing future community-based conservation projects on private lands.
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