Analyzing Institutional Change in Traditional Common-Property Forest Governance Systems

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"How traditional common-property institutions respond to exogenous change is a critical question for theorists and practitioners concerned with continued conservation of vital forests and the communities that sustain them. This paper examines how the Miskito peoples of Rio Platano, Honduras have responded to agricultural expansion by migrant farmers and ranchers onto their ancestral forest lands. The analysis compares institutional changes in the common-property system of the Miskito in three communities; each with a different history of outside encroachment. The findings demonstrate how outside encroachment disturbs the Miskito common-property system and the disjuncture between institutional changes made by Miskito leaders and those made by the Miskito people in every day decision-making. From the theoretical standpoint, the study offers a detailed empirical assessment of how institutions change when faced with exogenous pressures and illustrates the lack of cohesion in the processes. From a practitioners perspective, the findings identify possible windows of opportunities for facilitating the ability of indigenous peoples to address encroachment and furthermore, suggest some considerations for program and policy initiatives that involve indigenous residents at a later stage in the encroachment process."
indigenous institutions, common pool resources, institutional change, forest management, IASC