Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source: Workshop "How do you manage? Unravelling the situated practice of environmental management" (2012)
, management planning
, Protected areas
Management of Colombian protected areas (PAs) is expected to be carried out following a model in which, among other idealizations a) the institution leads decision-making, which is defined as a response to the state and pressures to the ecological systems and b) it is possible and relevant to inform the diagnosis on which these responses are based with research-based knowledge. Here we describe how this model relates to actual practices in a Colombian Amazon PA, based on one of the authors experience with conservation agencies between 2004 and 2008.
Her task was to promote problem – oriented research, working with academic researchers, PAs local staff and in some cases Indigenous people. A gap between research-based knowledge and management was evident, and apparently not surmountable either through classical conservation biology strategies (like divulgation, advocacy, etc.), nor through more ecological-modernization type of activities (participation, etc). Therefore, we felt that a thicker description of the system was needed, questioning the models assumptions of how action unfolds and what pertinent knowledge is.
We documented and analyzed the management plan and historical documents that register activities in Amacayacu National Park between 1990 and 2004, interviewed key institutional actors at different scales and focused on the authors experience formulating the PA's management plan and research plans, first as staff member of an NGO and then as coordinator of the Research Programme of National Parks between 2004 and 2008.
We found that action is hardly definable as a series of decisions leaded by the Parks staff and planned around a diagnosis of the state and pressures on the biological base of the systems. Rather, local personnel are mediators in the multi-scale social network that configures the PA, in order to mobilize action towards their mission. Activities carried out could be related to a kind of SPR model, but one in which states and pressures are not biological ones, but social, political, institutional and relational ones. Knowledge informing this kind of action is not the result of formal research but comes out of experience, intuition and common sense that staff accumulates as a result of their everyday undertaking. Formulating management plans and promoting formal research has an effect on conservation, not through the idealized mechanism (planning action and informing it), but in as far as it promotes mutual understanding, helps redistributing power and building confidence between actors involved in governance. This re- search is inserted in protected area management literature, contributing with insights on how collaborative arrangements for natural resource governance organize (Crona, B. & Hubacek, K. 2010) and on knowledge generation for comanagement (Berkes, F. 2009). Also, it contributes to postcolonial reflections on the implementation of supposedly global models in specific settings (Anderson, W. 2002). REFERENCES
Anderson, W. 2002. Introduction: Postcolonial Technoscience. Social Studies of Science, 32(5-6): 643-658.
Berkes, F. 2009. Evolution of co-management: Role of knowledge generation, bridging or- ganizations and social learning. Journal of Environmental Management, 90(5): 1692-1702.
Crona, B. & Hubacek, K. 2010. The Right Connections: How do Social Networks Lubricate the Machinery of Natural Resource Governance? Ecology and Society, 15(4): 18.