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Community-Based Resource Control and Management in Amazonia: A Research Initiative to Identify Conditioning Factors for Positive Outcomes

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Smith, Richard Chase
Conference: Constituting the Commons: Crafting Sustainable Commons in the New Millennium, the Eighth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bloomington, Indiana, USA
Conf. Date: May 31-June 4
Date: 2000
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1229
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
Region: South America
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
traditional resource management
forest management
institutional analysis
indigenous institutions
Abstract: "Roughly half of the forests and most of the lakes of pan-Amazonia are occupied, used, and to some degree controlled by economically marginalized communities of indigenous peoples, rubber tappers, ribereinhos, and peasant smallholders. The well-being of these people and of the forest and varzea ecosystems in which they live will depend upon the emergence and consolidation of models for community-based management and conservation of these natural resources that are viable over the long-term and capable of reducing the impact of human activity on the managed resource to sustainable levels. "Many of the existing community-based management systems in this region, especially those derived from indigenous Amazonian cultures, are implicit; that is, based on tradition and custom; others are more explicit, in that they are the result of a conscious process of linking institutions and actions with specific management outcomes. We characterize these explicit systems as intentional, taking place within a context of the market economy, and having a collaborative relationship with outside actors. Often the implicit and explicit systems co-exist within the same user group and community. "Four sponsoring institutions (Instituto del Bien Común, Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia, Oxfam America, and the Woods Hole Research Center) and a half dozen collaborating institutions have joined together in a multi-disciplinary effort (Amazon CBRM Research Initiative ACRI) to identify and analyze conditioning factors for positive outcomes in these latter systems. Multi-disciplinary research is currently being carried out in two cases of community fishery management in the Amazonian varzea of Peru and Brazil. The research in these plus two additional cases in terra firme communities and eight project reviews is guided by three fundamental questions: "Research Question 1: What preconditions are necessary for initiating a community-based resource management effort such that it is able to begin functioning and to move into a short-term phase? "Research Question 2: Once initiated, what factors condition the ability of a Users Group to carry out a community-based management system in a way that produces positive outcomes in the short term? "Research Question 3: What factors condition the ability of a Users Group to carry out a community-based management system in a way that permits the CBRM effort to endure and produce positive outcomes in the long term? "A series of social and ecological factors has been posited for each of these research questions as part of an initial working hypotheses for the project. For example, we suggest that an important pre-condition is that a the members of the community share a perception that the integrity of a resource, a group of resources or an landscape is threatened by productive or extractive activities being carried out by outsiders or by themselves which leads to a concern for controlling the threatening activities and/or regulating access and use of the threatened resource or area. This paper looks at the theoretical and methodological issues underlying the working hypothesis and ACRIs efforts to test it."

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