Changing and partially successful local institutions for harvest of thatch palm leaves
In some cases, users of common-pool resources (CPR) successfully govern and manage these for collective benefit but in other cases they fail to do so. When evaluating the success of local institutions for CPR management, however, researchers have not always clearly distinguished between success in terms of compliance and endurance, and success in terms of the socio-economic and environmental outcomes of the management. This study focused on the governance and management of wayuri palms (Pholidostachys synanthera robusta), whose leaves are harvested for roof thatch, in Ecuadorian Amazonia. Combining ethnographic methods with field botanic inventory, it was shown that although local institutions regulating leaf harvest had existed for longer than living memory, and the degree of compliance was high, they did not prevent exhaustion of the resource base, only delayed it.
KeywordsAmazonia Common-pool resources Indigenous Pholidostachys synanthera Sustainability Tropical rainforest
The research was made while I was funded through a three-year project grant provided by the Kone Foundation to professor Risto Kalliola in 2010 as part of its special call for research on the significance of biodiversity. Manuscript writing was partly carried out while I was funded by the Prometeo Project of the Secretariat for Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (SENESCYT) of the Republic of Ecuador. Gonzalo Malaver, Angel Gualinga, Adám Aranda, Isidro Tuti, Virgilio Jipa,and José Castillo assisted with field data collection. My deep gratitude goes to all the members of the communities where the field work was carried out, who kindly permitted, facilitated, and participated in the research activities. Rommel Montúfar, Matti Salo, and Paola Minoia read and provided important feedback to earlier versions of the manuscript.
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