Bringing research and catchment restoration planning and management into conversation with rural development

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Harry Biggs

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The preceding talks in this symposium all aim at widening the usual “science-management” (technocratic) power nexus. This entails additional linkages that effectively engage the “rest of society” beyond scientists and managers.  While these extensions should not be overbearing, there is growing recognition of the need for collaborative polycentric governance. Projects reflected in this symposium have engaged in various ways more deeply than before with a range of user and client groups, right through to catchment residents, in various potentially empowering ways, including a focus on livelihoods. Building on these specific examples, this presentation will discuss more generally our experiences with trust-building, co-production of goals and knowledge, and the move towards appropriate levels of joint decision-making, or at least meaningful joint recommendations with a high likelihood of implementation. These projects all fall in the domain of landscape or catchment rehabilitation/restoration. During the trust-building and collaborative phases of these projects with “wider society”, especially in the poorer regions in southern Africa, many other developmental needs surface – say needs for healthcare, education, or security – often more pressing than the locally expressed immediate need for restoration.  Whilst poorer communities generally opt for participation in any such restoration initiatives, this situation has led us to reflect on (a) whether restoration is done, as we increasingly try to carry it out, in a developmental framing; and (b) how the bigger picture of expressed local needs and top-down developmental plans could best play out, with restoration as a socially and economically beneficial contribution to this.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Society for Ecological Restoration