Reflections on Local Knowledge and Wildlife Resource Management: Differences, Dominance and Decentralization

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From the Author's Introduction: "In this paper I argue that non-local systematic and institutionalized application of local knowledge by state- mandated wildlife resource management regimes to date is decisively shaped by the interests and conditions of state institutions, and the structure, process and that relationships between these systems of knowing and managing wildlife are relatively little influenced by the local forms of knowledge and practice. This is so despite both local pressures and a developing public acknowledgement of the value of local knowledge, and the resulting growth in political recognition of its significance.... "This paper offers an initial assessment of how non-local conditions shape acknowledgement and use of local knowledge and institutional outcomes of their use. Patterns in wildlife management are examined in relation to variations between development in different disciplinary sectors, and over time. "First I look at uses of local knowledge in several different sectors where local knowledge has played a significant and somewhat recognized role in the work of non-local institutions of applied science and management: in economic botany, development agriculture, pharmacology and health care, in order to compare how uses of local knowledge have been facilitated, as well as what restraints have developed. "Second, I look at the origins of state-mandated wildlife management regimes in order to explore the conditions which have made them both responsive and resistant to the contributions of local expertise and users.... "Then, I turn to some of the current issues facing wildlife management regimes in a period of government retrenchment and cutbacks in funding and bureaucracies. Here I suggest that a century old pattern of interests and constraint may be changing, and I explore some of the resources and strategies which might be mobilized at this time in response to thse changing conditions. I then explore some of the potential for sustained recognition of local knowledge, and for systematic decision-making involving local resource users, in the context of current transformations of wildlife management practice. Finally, this leads in a Postscript to a comparison of three ways of enhancing users of local knowledge and practice through ad hoc consultation, the continued development of co- management institutions, and ongoing negotiations between the parallel systems of management. The goal of integrating local knowledge and management into state-mandated regimes is critically evaluated in the process. "My basic questions about non-local institutional processes for using local knowledge are: How does the use serve different participants' goals? Who has most effective control of its use, and how? What is the relationship between state-mandated and market institutions and local systems, experts and actors? Can the use of local knowledge be enhanced or constrained by developments and problems faced by resource management regimes today?"



IASC, wildlife, co-management, local knowledge--theory, decentralization--theory