Governance of the Cassurubá Extractive Reserve, Bahia State, Brazil: An analysis of strengths and weaknesses to inform policy

This study analyzed the governance of the Cassurubá Extractive Reserve or RESEX in Bahia State, Brazil, exploring the favorable conditions and the difficulties faced by this newly established and complex governance system. RESEXs are protected areas that involve traditional communities in its administration through majority representation in a Deliberative Council (DC). Research was conducted through literature and documents review, participant observation through direct involvement in community activities along several years (2008–2016), and semi-structured and structured interviews applied respectively to members of the DC and to users of the RESEX during 2012 and 2013. The Institutional Design Principles were used as an analytical tool to reflect on the strengths, limitations, and the multiple factors affecting its governance. Interview results suggest a more negative perception of resource users about RESEX functioning and prospects than DC members. Participation of resource users in RESEX meetings was low and a passive performance of council members was observed. Since 2012–2013, participation of users and council members has been gradually increasing. Several of the design principles were found to be present (boundaries, congruence, collective arrangements though enhanced participation is needed, conflict resolution mechanisms, recognition of rights to organize, nested enterprises), and only two were deemed insufficient or mostly absent: monitoring (4A and 4B), but improving in terms of community participation in vigilance, and graduated sanctions (5), present in legislation but hardly implemented. Further studies should be pursued for continuing adding blocks to the understanding of CPR governance systems with diverse degrees of complexity.
case study