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Heterogeneity and Resilience of North American Caribou Commons: Towards Adaptive Governance?

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Kofinas, Gary P.
Conference: Governing Shared Resources: Connecting Local Experience to Global Challenges, the Twelfth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Commons
Location: Cheltenham, England
Conf. Date: July 14-18, 2008
Date: 2008
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1071
Sector: Wildlife
Region: North America
Subject(s): caribou
indigenous institutions
adaptive systems
Abstract: "I compare evolution of select regional caribou commons of North America to identify emergent patterns of social-ecological governance and consider their implications to decision making with rapid global change. There are over 3 million caribou (called wild reindeer in Russia) in North American that have historically provided important cultural, economic, and nutritional well being to a diversity of indigenous communities of the North. Governance of commons for large barren-ground herds has long been of interest to CPR theorists, particularly when co-management emerged as a promising alternative in conditions of high uncertainty, cultural disparity and jurisdictional complexity. Regional crises because of scientific assessments and related indigenous-state conflicts led to formal co- management which was negotiated and implemented to integrate knowledge systems, build trust, and increase compliance with state regulations. In other regions, formal caribou co-management has been rejected and more ad hoc and polycentric approaches of commons governance have been used. Despite decades of intense scientific research with and without co-management, the state of ecological knowledge about caribou is poor. Forces of global change, including climate change and the increased push for mineral exploration and development, complicate the challenges of caribou commons management. There is a need to understand if and how co-management is being transformed to implement adaptive co-management principles and realize adaptive governance. The emergence of a pan-arctic caribou monitoring and assessment network represents a significant recent change in governance. If and how it will address the challenges of global change is uncertain."

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