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Sustainability, Commons and Co-Evolutionary View: Environmental Change and Traditional Organizations in Nepal

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Tiwari, Dirgha N.
Conference: Inequality and the Commons, the Third Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Washington, DC
Conf. Date: September 17-20, 1992
Date: 1992
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/5607
Sector: Forestry
General & Multiple Resources
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): sustainability
common pool resources
resource management
environmental change
Abstract: "Sustainable use and management of the commons requires a co-evolutionary understanding of the traditional resource management regimes. Capital theory lacks in explaining such a view and measuring equity and sustainability. Institutional theory attempts to examine from co-evolutionary perspective but, majority of case studies carried out in Nepal present the sociosystem in a narrow framework. This paper adopts the concept of ecological economics and institutional economics to examine the links between ecosystem and sociosystem in a wider perspective. First, the distribution and degradation of commons and their effects on the traditional organizations in both hills and plains of Nepal is presented in spatial framework using GIS techniques. Second, a case study of the traditional irrigation system (3500 ha) is presented with agro-ecological analysis, change in technical and property rights structure and functioning of the sociosystem based on one years' action research. The paper argues that misuse of commons in the upper watersheds have contributed to the degradation of the resources and in some cases, failure of the traditional systems. The case study included, however, shows successful adaption of the changing environment by the organization over period through: crop diversification, physical realignment, adaptions of appropriate technology, decentralization of power, equity in water distribution according to water allocation and resource mobilization. The relative O&M cost shows a increasing trend over period, as a result of growing forest resource degradation, flooding and siltation. The paper concludes that accounting of ecological-economic system and sociosystem is needed to explain fully from co-evolutionary perspective. Some policy measures are suggested to empower local-level resource management regimes for sustainable use and management of the commons."

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