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The Contribution of CPR Institutions Implementing Swiss Environmental and Nature Protection Policies

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Thomi, Luzius; Gerber, Jean-David; Nahrath, Stéphane; Reynard, Emmanuel
Conference: Building the European Commons: From Open Fields to Open Source, European Regional Meeting of the International Association for the Study of Common Property (IASCP)
Location: Brescia, Italy
Conf. Date: March 23-25
Date: 2006
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1024
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
Region: Europe
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
participatory management
public policy
Abstract: "Switzerland has a long tradition of collective management of natural resources at the local level. Common management of forests, irrigation systems and mountain pastures are now well known since several scholars investigated in depth during the second part of the 20<sup>th </sup>century these historical examples of long-enduring self organized common property regimes. However, since the second half of 19<sup>th </sup>century, the central state - the Confederation - and the Cantons (the States) are playing an increasing role in the area of environmental and nature protection, as well as natural resource management, by developing federal and cantonal public policies on water and forest management, nature and landscape protection, environmental protection (clean air policy, soil protection, etc.), and land use planning. According to the principles of subsidiarity and executive federalism, the Cantons (together with the communes) are generally responsible for the implementation of these policies mainly defined at the federal level. "This paper aims to study how the ancient (or sometimes newly created) self-organized and self-governed CPR institutions participate at the local or regional level at the definition and the implementation of federal and cantonal public policies. Four cases are analysed in the paper. The first one concerns a specific hunting management system in North-Eastern Switzerland, the renting system in which the state rents surfaces of land to hunting associations which are responsible for the regulation of wild life within the rented territory. The comparison between this renting system and the two others hunting systems existing in Switzerland (State monopoly and licence) allows demonstrating the efficiency of integrating CPR institutions within the hunting policy definition and implementation process. The second case concerns collective irrigation systems in the canton of Valais. We show how new common property organisations (irrigation corporations) has been created in order to deal with the issue of new landscape and touristic uses of the historical irrigation channels. The third example deals with flood protection, a sector in which public policies are mainly designed on federal level nowadays and that is traditionally managed by the cantonal states and the communes. The study of dyke corporations in the Canton of Berne shows that in some parts of Switzerland the cantonal state and the communes have delegated the implementation of this highly centralised policy to local self-organized associations. Dyke corporations, formed by the ground owners of a specific area, plan, finance and realise hydraulic engineering works on rivers. In the last example, we examine the role of self-organized landscape management structures or organizations in managing the rival uses of the resource landscape. Unconsciously or not, these organizations regulate the access, organise the maintenance, encourage the respect of good management practices of this resource - which is still rarely perceived as such because of the lack of property rights guarantying a more or less exclusive use of its services. "Three main conclusions will be drawn from this comparative analysis. Firstly, contemporary Swiss federal and cantonal environmental policies are - for legal, financial, organisational or traditional reasons - usually implemented by a large spectrum of different public, semi-public or private actors, within which self organized and self-governed CPR institutions often play an important role. Secondly, comparisons between cantons tend to demonstrate that implementation processes incorporating CPR institutions are often - but not always (cf. some experiences in the dyke case) - more efficient and effective than the ones incorporating only state agents (or private agents). One important reason explaining this statement seems to be the deep and fine knowledge of local resource system management issues, as well as the mobilization capacity of locally interested resource users oriented towards a sustainable use of the resource within a specific perimeter these self-organized institutions are able to produce. Thirdly, contrary to the hypothesis of the progressive but unavoidable disappearance/ death of CPR institutions due to their incapacity to adapt themselves to the competing state regulations (public policies), the evidences that will be produced in the paper suggest another hypothesis which is the one of a possible adaptation and even a possible renewal (under certain conditions) of these (partly) self-organized and self-governed (long -enduring) CPR institutions within the frame of the environmental and nature protection policies implemented by the Confederation and the cantonal states."

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