Network Governance of Natural Resources: Making collaboration count

Authors: Matthew Clark*, , Vicken Hillis, Boise State University
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: social-ecological networks, wetlands, collaborative governance, conservation management
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: 8224, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Despite decades of ecological research, environmental resources are often threatened by a failure to account for the relationships between our social and ecological systems. Presently, there is a dearth of methods for assessing the feedbacks between environmental resources and those who manage them. Recent work has demonstrated that social-ecological networks can be used to explicitly investigate the feedbacks between social and ecological systems. Despite this potential for social-ecological networks to produce transformative knowledge; until now, network metrics have not yet been explicitly linked to environmental outcomes. Failure to clearly demonstrate the effect of social-ecological network structure on environmental outcomes considerably limits our ability to address the relationships between social and ecological systems, and effectively manage natural resources at the landscape scale.
This project addresses this gap by directly linking social-ecological network metrics to measures of environmental integrity. We use social-ecological networks to understand how collaboration and a lack thereof among wetland management organizations in Montana facilitates or inhibits cohesive management of wetlands at the landscape scale. Current results show that of over 350 instances where organizations are co-managing connected wetlands, only approximately 50 of them are collaborating on management strategies. We continue to link these social-ecological network measures to the vegetation quality of each specific wetland. This research aims to provide a framework for managers to incorporate environmental connectivity into resource management schemas. This project thus represents both an advance for social-ecological network science broadly, as well as actionable results for resource managers on-the-ground.

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