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Nurturing resilience in social-ecological systems : Lessons learned from bridging organizations

by Schultz, Lisen

Abstract (Summary)

In an increasingly complex, rapidly changing world, the capacity to cope with, adapt to, and shape change is vital. This thesis investigates how natural resource management can be organized and practiced to nurture this capacity, referred to as resilience, in social-ecological systems. Based on case studies and large-N data sets from UNESCO Biosphere Reserves (BRs) and the UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), it analyzes actors and social processes involved in adaptive co-management on the ground. Papers I & II use Kristianstads Vattenrike BR to analyze the roles of local stewards and bridging organizations. Here, local stewards, e.g. farmers and bird watchers, provide on-site management, detailed, long-term monitoring, and local ecological knowledge, build public support for ecosystem management, and hold unique links to specialized networks. A bridging organization strengthens their initiatives. Building and drawing on multi-level networks, it gathers different types of ecological knowledge, builds moral, political, legal and financial support from institutions and organizations, and identifies windows of opportunity for projects. Paper III synthesizes the MA community-based assessments and points to the importance of bridging organizations, leadership and vision, knowledge networks, institutions nested across scales, enabling policies, and high motivation among actors for adaptive co-management. Paper IV explores learning processes catalyzed by bridging organizations in BRs. 79 of the 148 BRs analyzed bridge local and scientific knowledge in efforts to conserve biodiversity and foster sustainable development, provide learning platforms, support knowledge generation (research, monitoring and experimentation), and frame information and education to target groups. Paper V tests the effects of participation and adaptive co-management in BRs. Local participation is positively linked to local support, successful integration of conservation and development, and effectiveness in achieving developmental goals. Participation of scientists is linked to effectiveness in achieving ‘conventional’ conservation goals and policy-makers enhance the integration of conservation and development. Adaptive co-management, found in 46 BRs, is positively linked to self-evaluated effectiveness in achieving developmental goals, but not at the expense of conservation. The thesis concludes that adaptive collaboration and learning processes can nurture resilience in social-ecological systems. Such processes often need to be catalyzed, supported and protected to survive. Therefore, bridging organizations are crucial in adaptive co-management.

Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Stockholms universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:NATURAL SCIENCES; adaptive co-management; social-ecological resilience; local stewards; bridging organizations; learning; participation; Kristianstads Vattenrike; Biosphere Reserves; sustainable development; biodiversity conservation; ecosystem management; naturresurshushållning; Natural Resources Management

ISBN:978-91-7155-892-3

Date of Publication:01/01/2009

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