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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

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Record number 359616
Title Rebuilding common property management : a case study of community-based natural resource management in rural Guizhou, China
Author(s) Sun, Qiu
Source Wageningen University. Promotor(en): J.L.S. Jiggins; N.G. Röling; Cees Leeuwis. - [S.l.] : S.n. - ISBN 9789085048336 - 263
Department(s) Communication Science
CERES
Publication type Dissertation, internally prepared
Publication year 2007
Keyword(s) natuurlijke hulpbronnen - economie van natuurlijke hulpbronnen - hulpbronnenbeheer - hulpbronnengebruik - overheidseigendom - plattelandsontwikkeling - gemeenschapsontwikkeling - maatschappelijke betrokkenheid - china - guizhou - nationaal vermogen - bewonersparticipatie - natural resources - natural resource economics - resource management - resource utilization - public ownership - rural development - community development - community involvement - china - guizhou - national wealth - community participation
Categories Rural Development / Environmental Economics
Abstract Environmental degradation and rural poverty are inter-related problems of great concern to developing countries. The poor mostly live in environmentally fragile regions and rely heavily on natural resources for their livelihood subsistence. Unfortunately, environmental degradation and rural poverty are often addressed separately or in terms of a zero sum equation: either the choice is protecting the environment through limiting access of rural people to the natural resources, or improving people’s livelihood and promoting economic growth by over exploitation of natural resources. It seems an unresolvable dilemma in developing countries. In the late 1970s, China started its economic reform, transforming a centrally planned economy to a market-oriented one. As a result, the so-called Household Contract Responsibility System (HCRS) replaced the commune system in rural China. The rationale behind the HCRS is to promote farmers’ incentives in agricultural production through privatising the use right of the collectively owned lands to individual farm households. Empirical evidence shows that, since the introduction of this new system, the rural economy in general has improved in many places, but forests, grasslands and water resources have rapidly been degraded. The underlying cause of this has been the shift to open resource access. A contemporary debate rooted in the new institutional thinking argues that neither state control nor market instruments are able to solely solve environmental problems. In order to achieve sustainable development, it is necessary to look for alternative approaches or “the third way.” The new institutional scholars assume that common property regimes could be a solution, with a set of carefully designed institutions that can control people’s self-interest and encourage group interests in natural resource use and management for pursuing their livelihoods. Other theoretical perspectives, with a focus on participatory development and social learning share a common interest in collective action. Communication, trust, the anticipation of future interactions, and ability to make binding agreements among group resource users can promote collective action in natural resource management for sustainable livelihood. These theoretical bodies have led to the emergence of an approach known as Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM). CBNRM integrates concerns of sustainable resource management and people’s livelihood improvement, advocates (the revival of) common property regimes, emphasizes community-based institutions for collective actions, promotes participation of local resource users in decision-making, and enhances people’s capacities. Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) was introduced in China by international donors in the 1990s as a promising solution to addressing natural resource degradation and livelihood improvement of rural people. With support from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada, a research team from the Guizhou Academy of Agricultural Sciences (GAAS) has carried out CBNRM action research in rural Guizhou, a poor province in South-western China, since 1995. This PhD study takes the GAAS-led CBNRM initiative in Kaizuo township, Changhsun county as its research “object” to analyse whether and how a CBNRM approach contributes to sustainable natural resource management and livelihood improvement of the rural poor. The issues pursued in this thesis are: How does CBNRM work and why? What are the outcomes and why? What are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of CBNRM in a country such as China with its rapid economic development and socio-political transformation? What are the policy implications in relation to China’s increasing resource degradation and environmental management problems? Chapter 1 introduces the context of problems related to natural resource management in China and the Chinese government’s efforts to address these problems. The rapid economic transformation and new resource property regime clearly have an impact on sustainable natural resource management. The impact brought about an attempt of rebuilding common property management to address environmental issues. Chapter 2 offers a historic review of China’s land reform over the last 50 years, and reveals how the shifts in resource property regime affect the way local people manage natural resources. It argues that property right arrangements determine people’s behaviour and practice in natural resource use and management. It concludes that the HCRS fails to promote sustainable management of forest, grassland and water resources. Chapter 3 outlines the analytical framework based on the theoretical debates. The analytical framework discusses how community-based institution can contribute to sustainable, equitable and effective management of common-pool resources and livelihood improvement of rural poor people. It then further discusses how the effects of the community-based institutions can be affected by both internal and external factors. This chapter also argues the roles and value of a change agency in facilitation for collective action in natural resource management. Chapter 4 presents the methodology used in this research, including research strategies and the methods used for data generation and analysis. This study applied a methodology made up of a combination of anthropological and sociological methods, and some tools from ecology, applying a long-term perspective, and relying on a long-term, direct and personal involvement. Chapter 5 uses a stakeholder analysis approach to explore the interests of the different stakeholders and analyses the dynamic of their relationships as they pursue their stake-holding in natural resources. It demonstrates that the process of economic transformation and development has increased the severity of struggles for access to and control over natural resources. It argues that uncontrolled competing claims by different stakeholders with diverse interests cause social conflicts and damages to the natural resources, and suggests that concerted actions among stakeholders are needed to address the resource dilemma. Chapter 6 presents an in-depth case study in one village called Dabuyang. The case study explores how CBNRM was understood and practised in a rural community of China, with the focus on the process and outcomes of the GAAS team facilitation efforts in farmer organization, village-based institution development, and capacity building as means to promote collective action in natural resource management. The case study reveals that village-based institutions have played a central role in achieving sustainable, equitable and effective natural resource management. However, the Dabuyang case also shows that the performance of these local institutions is affected by internal factors, such as village leadership and farmers’ capacity to cope with changes, and challenged by external factors, such as market forces and some development initiatives. Chapter 7 examines the impacts of the GAAS team-led CBNRM action research on natural resource management and livelihood improvement of farmers through a set of comparative studies and an ecological survey. This study compares between: (1) villages with successful and less successful CBNRM intervention in Kaizuo township regarding changes in the five capital assets (natural, social, human, financial and physical) from 1995 to 2006; (2) between villages in Kaizuo township and another township called Malu regarding resource management institutions for forest, water systems, and grassland; (3) the year of 1995 and 2006 regarding changes in vegetation status two villages Dabuyang and Xiaozhai, which have been involved in CBNRM research since 1995. The comparative studies made plausible that CBNRM action research has positive impact on livelihood improvement of the rural farmers, development of local resource management institutions and improvement of forests and grasslands. Chapter 8 explores the GAAS team’s horizontal and vertical scaling-up strategies and processes to expand the impact of the CBNRM action research by working with the Kaizuo township government and four line ministries of Changshun county. The case of cooperation with the Forestry Bureau shows that integrating CBNRM principles into government programmes is possible, as long as there is a need or desire to work with farmers. The case of the Animal Bank argues that CBNRM innovation can not be replicated or transplanted in a different local context without adaptation. Local leadership, village politics and the social structure and culture of community all shape CBNRM outcomes. This case also reveals that the township government plays a crucial role in CBNRM scaling up. However, this role is strongly influenced by financial pressure (generating income) and by criteria of government performance evaluation (which stress upward accountability). The examples of cooperation with the Agricultural Office, Bureau of Water Resource Management and Bureau of Animal Husbandry illustrate the difficulties that GAAS team faced in terms of decision-making processes, current bureaucratic and administrative structures, and the lack of downward accountability mechanisms. Chapter 9 presents the major findings and conclusions of the study. Evidence examined in this thesis has shown that the CBNRM approach has effectively contributed to sustainable management of natural resources and livelihood improvement of the rural people in Guizhou. The strengthened or newly developed community institutions play a crucial role in effective and equable management of collectively owned forests, grasslands and water resources. However, the performance of these community institutions is affected by both internal and external factors. Although the design principles developed by New Institution scholars are valuable, they have proven to be too simplistic to apply wholeheartedly in different contexts, due to a narrow focus on the internal factors and ignorance of the external forces. Ignorance of the external factors and the local social-cultural settings and macro institutional, economic and political context in which they are embedded, leads to failure in community institutional development. CBNRM is not a panacea to deal with all environmental issues. The complexity and uncertainty of natural resource management is ever increasing, and this implies a real challenge for community institutions. A CBNRM approach has an eye for this challenge, but has a limited capacity to address (larger) cross-scale environmental issues that involve multiple stakeholders with diverse interests in natural resources. The GAAS team’s facilitation efforts have been critical in the success of CBNRM practice and CBNRM scaling up. However, the empirical materials of this study also reveal that their facilitation does not always produce positive outcomes, and the effects of facilitation are limited by unbalanced power relations among stakeholders.
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