Bureaucratic barriers limit local participatory governance in protected areas in Costa Rica

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2013-01-01

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Abstract

The importance of local participation in biodiversity governance was recently recognised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) through the incorporation of Indigenous Peoples' and Local Community Conserved Territories and Areas (ICCAs) as a protected area category. This paper explores what barriers ICCAs might face in their successful implementation within already existing protected area systems. I look at this issue in the context of the decentralisation of biodiversity governance in Costa Rica and examine the internal makeup of four different conservation areas within the National System of Conservation Areas. My findings suggest that it is not enough to enact legal reforms allowing and encouraging local participation. Successfully involving local participation requires attention to the class-based relationships within the protected area bureaucracy that create incentives (or not) to link with the local rural citizenry affected by these areas. In three out of four conservation areas, the dominant social class and urban-rural dynamics combined with a lack of accountability mechanisms have discouraged any real rural involvement and empowerment for decision-making. The strategy of the one area that succeeded at sorting these obstacles to incorporate local participation is described in detail.

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10.4103/0972-4923.110942

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Basurto, X (2013). Bureaucratic barriers limit local participatory governance in protected areas in Costa Rica. Conservation and Society, 11(1). pp. 16–28. 10.4103/0972-4923.110942 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/11474.

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Basurto

Xavier Basurto

Truman and Nellie Semans/Alex Brown & Sons Associate Professor

I am interested in the fundamental question of how groups (human and non-human) can find ways to self-organize, cooperate, and engage in successful collective action for the benefit of the common good. To do this I strive to understand how the institutions (formal and informal rules and norms) that govern social behavior, interplay with biophysical variables to shape social-ecological systems. What kind of institutions are better able to govern complex-adaptive systems? and how can societies (large and small) develop robust institutions that provide enough flexibility for collective learning and adaptation over the long-term?

My academic and professional training is based on a deep conviction that it is through integrating different disciplinary perspectives and methods that we will be able to find solutions to challenging dilemmas in natural resources management, conservation, and environmental policy. Trained as a marine biologist, I completed a M.S in natural resources studying small-scale fisheries in the Gulf of California, Mexico. Realizing the need to bring social science theories into my work on common-pool resources sustainability, I earned an MPA and a Ph.D. in Management (with a minor in cultural anthropology) from the University of Arizona and under the supervision of Edella Schlager. Following I spent two years working with Elinor Ostrom, 2009 co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, at the Workshop for Political Theory and Policy Analysis of Indiana University. Methodologically, I am familiar with a variety of quantitative and qualitative approaches and formally trained to conduct Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA or more recently fsQCA), that allows among other things, systematic comparisons of middle range N sample sizes and address issues of multiple-causality.


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