Use and Conservation of Biodiversity in the Commons: A Typological Proposal for the Identification of Levels of Governance

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"The cultural management of common-use natural resources is known as the Governance of the Commons, building a new paradigm in current environmental and sociological thinking. The debate has revolved around the question of whether collectively appropriated resources are doomed to overexploitation, as the commons-belonging to everybody and nobody-will inevitably be depleted or impaired. This study conceptually demonstrates, with empirical references, that the form of land ownership is not directly responsible for the conservation of natural resources. There is evidence that the form of use, and not the form of ownership, inform whether or not natural resources may be used sustainably. Mesoamerican cultures were displaced by the Spanish conquest from more hospitable natural zones to zones with lower production profiles, arid zones and temperate mountain jungles and forests, with low agricultural productivity. These conditions were brought upon communities displaced from a vast reservoir of territory and experience in the knowledge of natural biodiversity, but especially the ownership of natural resources that, in some cases, have an immeasurable future value. The governance of the commons, as defended herein, is based on the strength acquired by peasant groups or communities by applying three fundamental premises: a) acknowledgement of the capacity for self-governance; b) establishment of rules regulating access to, and the use and enjoyment of, natural resources; and c) compliance and enforcement through oversight and penalty mechanisms among actors. This article proposes a typology for the identification of different levels of governance in collective action."
commons, natural resources, community, IASC