Commons Embedded in Landscapes: Toward a Research Agenda on Landscape Level Governance
Robinson, Lance W.
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It is been observed that local level commons “are embedded in a multi-level world”. Resources under common property tenure exist side by side with resources under other forms of tenure within larger landscapes. Moreover, different types of land, water, and other resources overlap and interact in space, as do the decision-making processes which correspond to each. Diverse and sometimes conflicting values—wildlife conservation, resource-based livelihoods, place-based cultural preservation, and others—coexist, overlap and challenge each other within landscapes whose internal, human-created boundaries seldom correspond to natural ecosystems. This interaction of resources and management in larger spaces is the focus of a growing interest in landscape approaches. Designing effective landscape level approaches can, however, be challenging, with questions to be answered around how to (re-)distribute authority, connect different governance actors, and achieve coordination both across sectors and vertically to levels above and below. There are a range of research questions which call for answers, including: What tradeoffs must be made between coordination and institutional diversity?, What role do institutional linkages play in creating effective governance systems and how can appropriate linkages be fostered?, and What kinds of national and international frameworks can enable successful landscape approaches? The diversity of resources, institutions, governance actors, interests and values that typically exist for particular landscapes result in a level of complexity that means even the question of how to conceptualize, research and analyze governance at the landscape level is by no means straightforward. This panel session draws on diverse experiences of implementing and researching landscape approaches in order to further understanding of landscape level governance, and to begin to articulate a research agenda that will result in robust theory.