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Management, Resilience and the Strategy of the Commons

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Carlsson, Lars
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/10535/368
Sector: Forestry
Region: Europe
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
forest management
property rights
Abstract: "The paper discusses how two different forest management systems, one emanating from state ownership, the other from communal property rights, affect the amount of forest biomass per hectare over a period of well over a hundred years. As management units, both forests were created as a result of the delineation of Swedish Crown land. The forests in question are adjacent and in 1884, when they were created, they were also quite similar in many other respects. In the communal forest more than half of the forest resource was immediately harvested but it is shown that, due to deliberate regeneration programs, its forest resource has been steadily restored. In the adjacent state forest, however, the volume continued to decrease over the next 70 years. With reference to resilience theory, it is argued that, due to a more rigid management in the state forest, creative destruction was extended while forest density was accordingly reduced. It is suggested that a decisive difference is the ownership and organization of the units, all of which have had a profound effect on the forest resource. For example, while the management system in the communal forest is a based on a target income strategy having the effect that harvesting increases when prices rise and a 'debatable' type of forestry, state management is based on the 'scientific' methods of its time. It is concluded that the owners of the communal forest over a significant period of time have applied a management system that is more sensitive to changes in the ecosystem. Whether in the long run communal or state behavior should be regarded good or bad is left as an open question in the paper. It is argued that it might simply be a matter of time and two different modes of resilience. In both cases, 'the ability of [the] system to maintain its structure and patterns of behavior in the face of disturbance' is maintained (Holling, 1986: 296). However, it is concluded that the management of the communal forest seems to be more responsive to changes in the environment compared to the centrally decided state management system."

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