Resource Management - Local Context

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The Ecosystem
Perspective

Scale and
Knowledge Systems

Scale and Knowledge Systems

Environmental change related to overexploitation of ecosystem services, such as depletion of commercial fish stocks, can represent a significant impact to local ecosystems, economies, and cultures. Compounded many times over across broad areas, the same local management issues become regional. The human potential for causing profound environmental change at the local scale represents an ecosystem element that can be regulated, or managed to achieve conservation objectives. Yet where overly centralized or fragmented resource management systems deny managers the opportunity to recognize or address shifts in local ecosystem conditions and associated social/economic drivers, successful conservation becomes more a matter of chance than design. Addressing resource-use issues at the lowest appropriate level not only allows identification of problem areas and causation, but also encourages participation from the people who have the greatest incentive to make conservation efforts work.

Management at the local scale also allows integration of different knowledge systems, notably those informed by the scientific method and that of traditional observation. Rigorous scientific methodologies are used to control uncertainty regarding the reliability of accrued field data and conclusions based on those data. Yet when applied beyond the context of where they were obtained, the reliability of these data may be compromised. Likewise, management actions based solely on scientific information obtained during a narrow timeframe may not address ecosystem dynamics that require long-term observation to be recognized. This gap can be bridged by integrating traditional knowledge of local people that spans generations and can frame science data in the context of ecologic cycles and history that would otherwise go unnoticed by transient research efforts.

capelin

fish shacks

mending nets


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