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Local Politics of Floodplain Tenure in the Amazon

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Type: Journal Article
Author: de Castro, Fábio
Journal: International Journal of the Commons
Volume: 10
Date: 2016
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/10020
Sector: Land Tenure & Use
Region: South America
Subject(s): local participatory management
Abstract: "Research on community-based management system has been often grounded on monolithic institutional, social and ecological perspective with focus on the commoners as the only local actor, collective territorial rights as the only local tenure system, and the managed resource unit or ecosystem as the only contested resource driving collective action. However, CBMSs are embedded in local social-ecological systems usually characterized by multiple ruling systems, different local groups, and heterogeneous ecological systems. In this paper I discuss how the floodplain tenure system is negotiated and rearranged between two local groups – community residents and large landholders. This complex and dynamic arrangement comprises three layers of property rights which are combined according to changing ecological and social context. Based on longitudinal empirical data spanning 20 years of research, I describe the history of contemporary human occupation, and the most recent socioeconomic and institutional changes in the region in order to unpack the dynamics of the floodplain tenure in the region. I conclude that assumptions that integration of local management system into a formal legal framework suffices to achieve an efficient co-management system is rather simplistic. Despite major structural changes in the formal tenure framework, power relations between different local users may remain unchanged unless local perceptions and everyday life practices of power relations are changed. Unpacking the multiple ruling systems and everyday life practices that mediate interactions between different local actors is fundamental to understanding how the commons are appropriated at the local level. Therefore, a local contextualization of the social and ecological structure is crucial to reveal potential barriers to the development of an inclusive and sustainable production system."

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