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Community-Based Natural Resource Management As a Non-Linear Process: A Case in the Peruvian Amazon Varzea

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Pinedo, Danny; Summers, Percy M.; Smith, Richard Chase; Saavedra, Johnny; Zumaeta, Rafael; Almeyda, Angelica M.
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, IN
Conf. Date: May 31-June 4
Date: 2000
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/2076
Sector: Fisheries
General & Multiple Resources
Region: South America
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
indigenous institutions
resource management
institutional analysis
Abstract: "The ribereño peasants, who live in small communities along the waterways in the Northern Peruvian Amazonia, depend on a wide variety of natural resources. Their long-term survival and development require management systems that assure the future availabililty of these recources. In this context, the management of natural resources by local communities is an important alternative to prevailing private and state models in the sustainable use of resources. However, because there are many factors that can contribute to the success or failure of the community-based management, this can be a long-term and dynamic process that includes peaks and interruptions. This paper focuses on the factors that condition the emergence, abandonment and resurgence of resource use control in a community-based fishery management initiative in a varzea ecosystem of the Northern Peruvian Amazon basin. "El Chino is a small ribereño community in the headwaters of the Tahuayo River, within the Amazon floodplain. The livelihood of its 42 households is based on a diversity of economic strategies including agriculture, fishing, hunting, animal husbandry, gathering of forests products, commerce, craft production, and even tourism. Given that fisheries are an important source of food and in response to a threat to subsistence because of the presence of outside, large-scale commercial fishing boats, the community organized itself in the early 80s to establish norms that regulate access to and fishing in 13 lakes within its jurisdiction. The access of commercial fishermen, large-scale commercial fishing, and the use of predatory fishing practices and gear were prohibited. Thus, community members established a post of vigilance from which they controlled the fishermen entering to the lakes. This management system was improved in 1984 with the help of a Peruvian-American NGO. "The community was successful in keeping major commercial fishermen out of its lakes and some of the more destructive fishing practices were eradicated. As a result, the fishery stock experimented a considerable recovery. However, after two years, when the threat of outside fishermen disappeared and the NGOs' presence diminished, the control system was abandoned. In 1996, another NGO moved to the community to reinitiate the control system of lakes after several years of declining fishing stocks and increased local pressure on the lake system. But this time the control system lasted shortly and currently has few supporters. "We propose that certain factors, essential for the establishment and continuity of a CBRM initiative, such as an existing threat to the resource base and alliances with external agents, might not be constant through time. The presence/absence of these factors through time is the result of the dynamic nature of the social and natural setting in which forest dwelling communities live. For this reason, community-based management systems must be viewed as a non-linear process which cannot be studied without understanding past outcomes and the dynamic nature of the factors that condition the establishment, interruption and resurgence of resource use control. As such, management systems that are not constant but instead are flexible in response to these external factors are better adapted to the existing conditions in the Amazon Basin."

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