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  Integrating Multi Level Governance for Biodiversity Conservation: Biopsy of Indian Forest Management Himadri Sinha 1   Abstract Biodiversity conservation essentially requires community involvement. But community-based conservation or community based resource management is not just about communities. It is about governance that starts from the ground up and involves multi-level interactions. Complexities of this multi-level governance create problems but also provide opportunities to combine conservation with development. Multi-level governance may facilitate learning and adaptation in complex social-ecological circumstances. Such arrangements should connect community-based management with regional/national government-level management, link scientific management and traditional management systems, encourage the sharing of knowledge and information, and promote collaboration and dialogue around management goals and outcomes. Governance innovations of this type can thus build capacity to adapt to change and manage for resilience. In India, the criticality of commons with respect to social, ecological and economic perspectives is immense. Currently, the challenges for the local institutions are numerous emanating from the rapid globalization and industrialization process with constant flow of information, money, objects, ideologies and exogenous technologies. In subsistence agrarian economy where people largely depend on agriculture and forests for their livelihood requirements and a trend of transition setting in, the problem is all the more critical. Hence, it is critical for the institutions to be resilient to the increased externalities and complexities arising from the forces of globalize economy. The paper examines the institutional challenges and various social factors that influence the process of resilience building within institutional ambience. The cases of forest management from eastern India are considered and analyzed from a multi level governance perspective. Key words : Biodiversity, Forest, Resilience, Multi level governance, Communities 1   Himadri Sinha is Professor of Rural Development & Research and Planning at Xavier Institute of Social Service, Purulia Road, Ranchi 834 001, Jharkhand, India. He can be contacted through e-mail: himadrisinha19@gmail.com/ himadrisinha@xiss.ac.in   1 Integrating Multi Level Governance for Biodiversity Conservation: Biopsy of Indian Forest Management Introduction Biodiversity is claimed as a local, regional, national, and international common property. For the past decade, the roles of international, national and local institutions in biodiversity conservation have been evaluated and hotly debated from different perspectives. Many conservationists promote rigid protection under centralized state agencies and institutions, citing the risks of relying on complicated communities with many different interests. Yet state agencies lack the resources, the cross-scale institutional links, and the transparency needed for implementing policies and enforcing regulations. And in most countries these same agencies lack the legitimacy to negotiate with powerful actors in broader society. As a result, despite the continuing global expansion of protected areas, paper parks are the rule (Mascia et.al, 2003). In India, forest communities and tribal leaving in the forest fringes were alienated from forest governance since 1927. The then British Government estranged them by enacting Forest Act 1927 which made the forest department the sole authority over almost all forests in India barring few village and kingsly forests. Following the act began history of a long struggle between communities and forest department for restoring community’s right over forest. Since 1970s forest department tried to include communities in forest governance. Joint Forest Management was evolved to legitimize people’s participation in forest protection. After 80 year’s historic injustice via forest act 1927 taking away all forest rights of tribals and forest dwellers, Government of India finally decided to notify ‘The Recognition of Forest Rights for Scheduled Tribes and other traditional Forest Dwellers’ in January 1, 008. However, several environmentalists and activists argued that such initiative would be more detrimental for biodiversity conservation. Amidst such debate, the importance of quest for appropriate linkage between community and resources in one hand and governance set up attains new heights. Globalization has facilitated the linkages between communities and various global processes perhaps more than ever before. Such linkages can either make them vulnerable to pressures and incentives that may srcinate at other levels of social, political and economic organization (Armitage & Johnson, 2006; Berkes et al. 2006) or may eventually liberate them. Communities respond to various outside pressures through various influences and the linkages between communities. Such adjustment of communities and other levels of political organization need to be studied and understood. There is a developing literature about scale and interplay of institutions across scale (Adger et al., 2006; Cash & Moser 2000; Lebel et al., 2005; Young 2002) indicating that institutional linkages and multi-level governance systems are important for a variety of reasons (Berkes et al., 2006). Understanding the conservation-development issue requires attention to scale. For example, regarding the political economy of conservation in four African countries, Gibson (1999) showed that forces operating at the level of the nation state (many of them related to peculiarities of postcolonial governments) are quite different from those at the levels of regions and communities. In the context of tropical biodiversity conservation, Barrett et al. (2001)   2 argued that community-based conservation overemphasizes the role of local communities, given that local institutions are only one level in a multi-level system with a paucity of strong institutions. More robust designs may ‘involve distributing authority across multiple institutions, rather than concentrating it in just one’ (Barrett et al., 2001: 497). Berkes argued that community-based conservation cannot be conservation that is conceived and implemented only at the local level -- because community institutions are only one layer in a multi-level world (Berkes et al, 2006). More usefully, community-based conservation can be used as an abridged label for conservation from the bottom up, or decentralized governance that starts from the ground up but involves a network of interactions at various levels. An increasingly globalized world requires institutions that link the local level to the various higher levels of social and political organization. Such linkages can provide ways to deal with governance (Kooiman 2003); multiple objectives (Brown et al. 2005); multiple knowledge systems and may result in the creation of networks for learning and joint problem-solving (Carlsson & Berkes, 2005). They help address various aspects of complexity, such as self-organization, uncertainty, and resilience, as well as dealing with the challenges of scale. The study of community-based conservation in a multi-level world, with focus on horizontal and vertical linkages, can serve to extend and elaborate commons theory. Edwards and Steins (1999) pointed out that there is a need to look beyond the community level and deal with contextual issues. More recent treatments of commons theory have been addressing the issue of scale with increasing sophistication, and have a major role to play regarding multi-level governance involving state, private and civil society actors on resource and environment issues (Dietz et al. 2003, Ostrom et al., 2002). Commons theory can inform conservation science and help with the understanding of issues of scale and institutional linkages. The objective of this paper is (a) how to reconcile communities and conservation at multilevel world and (b) to assess experiences of Indian forest management in the light of the above understanding. Reconciling Communities and Conservation in Multi Level World Berkes (2006) while discussing problematique of community based conservation in a multi level world stressed on three critical issues viz. (i) relationship between communities and conservation, (ii) capacity development to deal with multiple objectives and (iii) developing complexity approach for commons governance. Number of researchers has examined the conflict between conservation policies set by the state and the rights of local or indigenous peoples (Moeliono, 2006; Sinha 2005). The issue has a long history (Borgerhoff Mulder & Coppolillo, 2005; Sinha, 2005; Western & Wright 1994). Biodiversity is a global commons, and its conservation is beneficial for the world. But is it also good for the local people? Conservation and livelihood often found to be contradicting goals and pose divergent problems. Linking these two has been a important challenge both for governments and environmentalists. Linking conservation to livelihoods, as a broad strategy, requires a search for implementation models. Salafsky and Wollenberg (2000) provide models of three conservation strategies. In the “protected area” (PA) model based on human exclusion, local livelihood activities merely appear as one of the internal threats to biodiversity. The   3 PA implementation is designed to counter these threats (‘fences and fines’). In the ‘economic substitution’ model as used by some World Bank funded projects, the project implements alternative livelihood activities as substitutes for those that adversely affect biodiversity. The goal here is to increase benefits from these other livelihoods, as a way to reduce the threat to conservation from local people. Finally in the ‘linked incentives’ model, a link is constructed between biodiversity and livelihood. This link closes the loop and becomes the driving force leading to conservation because it establishes a direct incentive to protect biodiversity in the long-term (Salafsky & Wollenberg, 2000). Such an analysis brings out the necessity to deal with multiple objectives; to engage in deliberation to reconcile the local and global meanings of conservation; to make full use of lessons from commons research; and to develop a complexity approach for governing the commons. Further Berkes argued that to achieve conservation and development simultaneously, the interests of the both be served. But by and large projects have one sided approach either to promote conservation or livelihood rarely both. Integrating biodiversity conservation and livelihood needs with complementary goals thus attains paramount importance. Berkes therefore argued that a capacity building both for practitioners and policy makers on one hand and communities on the other become crucial to integrate goals of biodiversity conservation and livelihood needs. Finally Berkes also pointed out that the community-based conservation is a complex systems problem and should employ the tools and approaches appropriate for dealing with complexity. If community-based conservation in a multi-level world is about governance that starts from the ground up but involves multi-level interactions, then it needs to be analyzed with attention to the ways in which such conservation srcinates and gets organized, the partnerships involved, and the linkages that connect the local-level to a multiplicity of other levels. All of these are considerations are in the realm of complex adaptive systems which includes a consideration of scale but it also includes much more. Pursuing this theme further, using complex adaptive systems terminology, the aspects to be considered include: self-organization, path-dependency, scale, multiple perspectives, multiple stability domains, non-linearity, uncertainty, and emergence. Armitage (2006) also argued for inclusion of aspect of political ecology in the adaptive process of community – conservation resilience. According to him power relation, institutional dynamics and historical conditions vary from communities to communities. Therefore, adaptive system needs to be contextualized and multiple pathways and trajectories need to be appreciated and incorporated. Cristiana Simão Seixas (2006) while analyzing community – conservation linkages in different conservation and development projects across the world noted that in some initiatives, people had previous experiences working with community mobilization (e.g., through religious groups) and awareness development. In others, capacities regarding social mobilization and social-environmental awareness had to be built throughout the process. Key leaders providing a vision of the potential outcomes and working as facilitators and internal conflict managers had played a major role in guiding the process. Incentives, particularly economic ones, increase peoples’ commitment to the initiative. In many cases yet, the initiative worked with existing institutions and social
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