Comparative Conservation Studies: A “Bottom-Up” Collaborative Governance
Collaborative Governance entails the new governance system that emphasizes on different stakeholders to prudently and methodically govern natural resources (Yeboah-Assiamah et al. 2016). In this entry, it connotes the creation of synergies between formal and informal governance structures as well as formal and informal institutions.
Conservation is the appropriate management of a natural resource to avert its exploitation, annihilation, or degradation.
Bottom up connotes strategies or activities that are initiated, propelled, and championed by either an individual, group of individuals, and groups within a local community before gaining subsequent formal or external recognition and support. It could also be an initiative of the entire local community through its legitimate leaders.
The complexity and high stakes associated with natural resources render them rather problematic and perhaps impossible to be governed by a single unit which has led to an era of networks and collaborations in natural resources governance (Yeboah-Assiamah et al. 2017). In other words, effective management of environmental resources including, inter alia, watersheds, and aquatic life, forests and wildlife, and protected areas requires the synergistic efforts of multiple actors and systems. The idea of collaboration has come to stay and is well researched in the natural resource governance literature (Yeboah-Assiamah et al. 2016).
An emerging theme has been a focus on the determinants or drivers of governance collaborations (Sayles and Baggio 2017); in other words, how do these governance networks and collaborations come about or get initiated? The role of a community’s social capital base and how best communities deploy social capital greatly determines the extent to which resources get transformed into meaningful assets in a sustainable manner. Scholars discuss the role of bridging organizations in catalyzing such collaborations between various entities and stakeholders towards a superordinate goal of resource governance and conservation (see Kowalski and Jenkins 2015). Even within bridging organizations, there are still some “micro” entities that mastermind or catalyze the success of a bridging organization in bringing about natural resource collaboration for effective conservation purposes. For instance, Olsson et al. (2007) suggest the unique and “championing” role played by a director of the Ecomuseum [bridging organization] in establishing the collaborative governance arrangement of the Kristianstads Vattenrike Biosphere Reserve in Sweden. In Canada, collaborative governance in the lobster fishery of Maine largely involved the role played an individual [the Marine Resource Commissioner] who used his position as editor of Commercial Fisheries News and networks within the fishing space to propel the collaboration.
Although collaboration in the natural resource governance context has gained much prominence, the literature appears quiescent on the peculiar and championing roles exhibited by individuals [herein referred to as “champions”] in a particular natural resource collaboration or resource outcomes. “Champions of change” are “innovative, charismatic individuals and can be found at any level of society, within local or national governments, NGOs, local communities, and among resource users” (Borrini-Feyerabend et al. 2004, p. 336). The literature contends that although leadership is critical to the emergence and effectiveness of shadow networks, it nonetheless does not necessarily lead to an improved governance of social-ecological systems (Olsson et al. 2006). Olsson et al pose critical questions including inter alia, “What characterizes the particular type of leadership that can transform an SES [social-ecological systems] towards adaptive governance? This current study contends that natural resource endowments are largely freely supplied by nature to “lucky” communities, yet the ability to transform such endowments into meaningful resource outcomes are context dependent. There are many communities blessed with specialized natural resources which yet have not been transformed into sustainable developmental resource for society, while in some, same resources have rather become counter-productive or exploited into extinction. From the foregoing, the study remarks that nature supplies freely, yet the underpinning challenge is: Who, How, and What determines When it becomes sustainable developmental resource? This entry makes an empirical contribution to literature by discussing the peculiar role of “champions” in forging collaborative wildlife governance for effective conservation as well as the roles and strategies in the transformation of a community endowment into a sustainable developmental resource. A champion is used in this entry to mean an individual who through specialized organizing skills and interests undertakes interacted actions through rigorous approach and strategies to link differing bodies unto a coherent platform, to foster arrangements towards the effective governance of natural resources. The study presents a case study of Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary (BFMS) where the actions of “a champion” [the late Mr. Akowuah] resulted in collaborative wildlife governance which has helped in the conservation of a hitherto threatened monkey species which were on the brink of near extinction (see Yeboah-Assiamah et al. 2017). The BFMS in Ghana has subsequently become a renowned wildlife area of attraction to local and international tourists, development agencies, and researchers with associated society-wide benefits.
Social Capital and Natural Resource Development
If society A, B, and C are given same amount of natural resource endowment(x), the ability of A, B, or C to optimally adopt prudent measures to transform(x) into a long-term blessing or asset greatly depends on the social capital the society possesses. The notion of social capital suggests that individuals, groups, one’s family, friends, and associates constitute an important asset that can be called upon in periods of critical needs (Putnam 1993). A great deal of the social capital literature has been underscored by Putnam’s (1993) work on civic participation and institutional performance where he conceptualized social capital to mean the “features of social organization, such as networks, norms, and social trust that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit” (1993, p. 6). One could reason out that Putnam’s treatise took great cue from Bourdieu (1986) who conceptualized social capital as “the aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to the possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance or recognition” (p. 248). Broadening the scope, Coleman (1990) discusses social capital by focusing on the “relations among groups” and “not just individuals.” Arguing from its functional role, Coleman defines social capital as “a variety of different entities [which] all consist of some aspect of social structure, and [which] facilitate certain actions of actors...within the structure” (p. 598). At the macrolevel, social capital is explained as a process of drawing on the social and political environment to shape the social structure which also enables norms to develop (Olson 1982). In a snapshot, social capital connotes individuals as assets, their close relations, interactions among groups as well as socio-political imperatives.
Relating the above conceptualization to this study, the individual who championed the purposive course of actions to salvage the threatened wildlife species including the steps to make the wildlife human-friendly constituted great social capital to the Boabeng-Fiema community. At the micro- and mesolevels, his immediate family and his former school pupils who mostly formed the youth supported his conservation efforts. At the macrolevel, he drew upon the relevant societal actors including opinion leaders, government officials and researchers from abroad which greatly contributed to revamping “hitherto threatened monkeys” into more “human-friendly” species becoming the community’s greatest asset fostering socio-economic development. In essence, effective conservation requires the ability to use social capital to foster the appropriate social-ecological system and resilience. The concept of resilience implies the ability of governance regimes to make use of social capital, or other relevant resources to respond and adjust effectively to changing social-ecological systems, and thus be able to moderate or prevent the adverse effect that similar threats may pose to less-adaptive and less-resilient social-ecological systems.
This entry adopted an ethnographic design. Ethnography is an interpretive approach where researchers task themselves to undertake a systematic discourse of the beliefs, processes, social interactions, and behaviors including peculiar phenomena of sizeable societies; the process is largely interspersed with participation and observation over a period of time (Denzin and Lincoln 2011; Reeves et al. 2008). The overarching goal of this design is an exploration, description, and explanation of other cultures and contextual phenomena and not to test for quantitative hypothesis (Atkinson and Hammersley 1994). The study was positioned within a prevalent epistemology by recognizing the information and knowledge base of participants. A key asset that enabled the study was the use of social relationships and intermediaries to seek unreserved access to key participants. According to Wilson (2008), ethnographic design requires “…the proper protocol for building of healthy relationships…the use of intermediaries has practical uses in establishing rapport with research participants and placing the researcher within a circle of relations” (p. 129). Consequently, two elder sons of the late Akowuah [one is a tour guard] remained very useful throughout the study period who led the researchers to participants including the chiefs, traditional priests, and other relevant actors. The purposive and snowball sampling techniques were used to identify 25 key informants who were deemed to have the requisite information. The main instruments of primary data gathering involved informal discussions, narrative enquiry, in-depth interviews, simulation exercises, and direct observations. Key individuals in the governance structure of BFMS as well as those who used to be closer to the “champion” when he was alive, including his wife, were engaged in a narrative inquiry followed by an in-depth interview. By direct observation and simulation exercises, the authors tied bananas to a wooden structure where “the champion” used to feed monkeys; in the presence of the authors, monkeys came around to pick up the bananas and photos were taken (see Fig. 3). The study also witnessed how researchers and tourists from both local and international arena visited the BFMS (Fig. 4). All the visuals in the study were taken in the course of this study between the 2016 and 2017 period. In ethnographic descriptions and discussions, visuals are deemed to be critical in the data analysis process. According to Denzin and Lincoln (2011), the use of visuals or images is quite relevant as it helps to get readers’ attention; it is able to explicate an idea or phenomenon quite complicated to describe with words. Prosser succinctly puts “art can describe, reflect, and evoke emotion, which dry facts or figures and cool logic rarely do” (quoted in Denzin and Lincoln 2011, p. 488). All proceedings with participants have been transcribed and sorted out into appropriate themes and used in the discussions. Data were analyzed using inductive thematic analysis based on issues emergent from the observations and data gathered as common to ethnographic studies (Reeves et al. 2008). Direct narratives and visuals have been used to support the themes discussed. A major strength of this design is that through observations and immersing oneself into the society, the researchers were able to identity and gather novel empirical insights which have eluded previous studies. More importantly, the comprehensive nature of the approach helped researchers to explore and link social phenomenon and related narratives which prima facie may appear to have no interlinkage (see Reeves et al. 2008).
Providing an empirical case of “a hitherto nearly institutional dearth and monkey species on the brink of extinction,” this entry uses the unique case of Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary (herein BFMS) in Ghana, West Africa, to demonstrate how “champions of change” could influence social-ecological systems. Boabeng-Fiema comprises two neighboring communities, both Boabeng and Fiema [who have similar beliefs and practices, albeit with subtle intercommunity rancor]. This community is located 22 km north of Nkoranza District of the Brong Ahafo Region [transitional zone of Ghana] which is about 230 km from Accra, the capital of Ghana. The area presents a distinctive case because the monkeys in the community in spite of challenges posed to community members continue to receive significant protection; the widely recorded human-wildlife conflict with wildlife becoming threatened in contemporary times is nonexistent in BFMS. Meanwhile, there have been periods the monkey species in BFMS were once threatened which saw the emergence of a “champion of change” who through pragmatic strategies brought about adaptive governance and institutional development towards collaboration for wildlife resilience. (details in section 4.1).
Results and Discussion
In this section, the study provides a brief overview of BFMS and how the role of a champion fostered a bottom-up governance collaboration towards effective wildlife conservation.
Overview of Emergence of Champion in BFMS (Source: From Fieldwork 2016 and 2017)
Below discusses the key strategies adopted by the “champion of change” which underscored the governance and institutional rejuvenation capable of effective conservation of hitherto threatened monkey species in Boabeng-Fiema. Additionally, strategies adopted by “the champion” to make monkeys much domesticated and more human-friendly which attracts tourists from world over are discussed in the section.
Proposals Writing to be Given a Sanctuary Status
…Akowuah was fortunate to be highly educated to become a senior policeman, my uncle [the then priest] told him, Kwaku [Akowuah] you have been in government, how can we salvage the animals from such destruction? Akowuah wrote series of letters to government which saw wildlife officials coming on board
Continuous Lobbying at Local Level
The champion’s initial action of getting the right institutions passed was a worthwhile course of action as championing natural resources governance and conservation cannot be achieved without the enabling or supporting rules, regulations, and structures [institutional underpinnings] especially regarding protected areas (Hayes 2006). For instance, through the effort, the Wildlife Conservation Regulation (1971) of Ghana lists the colobus and mona monkeys [found in Boabeng-Fiema] as wholly protected [see schedule 1] and partially protected [see schedule 2], respectively; these have been strengthened by local by-law such as that of 1972 – proscribing hunting of monkeys, farming in the core forest – which are localized instruments to enhance wildlife conservation.
He [Akowuah] saw to it that the right institutions and regulations were passed to protect the monkeys, even the passage of the bye laws, I cannot take it away from him. He had a bit of education and knew the tourism potential that monkeys could provide.
Anchoring Collaboration Towards Effective Wildlife Governance
Scholars (Gray 1989) argue that a convener or champion should be able to identify and bring all legitimate parties to the negotiation arena; such “champion” requires a convening power [ability to lobby actors to get involved] which could be based on, inter alia, the person’s formal position in society, the reputation of the convener. From the study, the educational status, social standing and reputation of the champion helped him a lot to be able to induce actors unto a platform for collective actions.
It was this man who because of his education and ability to communicate wrote letters to government… he did not sleep afterwards, he also planted a lot of teak trees along the sanctuary with his school youth so that the animals can be jumping on them….
His tenure as the warden made BFMS attractive to the international world where he helped expose the sanctuary to international organizations and researchers who developed interest in the flora and fauna of the community. For instance, in 1989, he invited a Canadian lecturer [Fargey] who came with his team of students to carry out research on the monkey species. It was this Canadian scholar who suggested to Mr. Akowuah the need to establish a formal management committee to help manage the BFMS. By inviting Fargey to come and research in the area, it opened up the BFMS to the international community and larger exposure. Fargey has been one of the classical scholars who have written extensively on BFMS making the place well projected world over and its status as an attractive research hub for many universities especially outside Africa who use BFMS for their field work.
Akowuah started the sanctuary all by himself, although the monkeys were prevalent already [offspring of the gods], he took upon himself to remake the monkeys more human-friendly and to make people develop interest in them too. It is his initiative that the place became a recognized sanctuary…
Whichever way one wants to put it, the champion of change was pivotal in the initiation, in the process, and its subsequent development.
…history has it he discovered the animals. But what actually happened was some white men came and those days, people were afraid of the whites...So the community agreed that Mr. Akowuah joins the white men and he worked very hard.
From the foregoing, one could observe that aside his enthusiasm and personal commitment, social capital and networks played key role in the success of the champion. His relations with his family and the teaming youth contributed immensely to most of the strategies he adopted. This observation provides support to an assertion by Ostrom and Ahn (2009) that social capital serves as a social relationship asset which has potential to engender anticipatory or future benefits to a community or a process. In this regard, social capital contributed to the Boabeng-Fiema community as well as Mr. Akowuah’s processes of preventing hunting of monkey species.
Akowuah adopted several strategies to draw the animals closer home and to human beings. Because he had taught before, he commanded a lot of respect and had most of the youth behind him. These youth helped him a lot to even go on night patrols; each time he heard of gunshot in the forest, even if he were asleep, would wake up and move with his team of volunteers in different directions. They caused the arrest of many people.
Appropriate Steps to Domesticate the Wildlife
In the process, he was actively supported by his family [social capital] who helped in either conveying logs of wood to construct benches to accommodate people or seedlings to plant along the sanctuary. In the domestication of the monkeys, a close associate of Akowuah explained:
Akowuah would buy banana [preferred food of monkeys] and place along the routes of monkeys closer to the forest. The monkeys would come along to pick these bananas, next time he would place it a bit closer and closer till it got to a time the bananas were placed very closer to the home. These monkeys through that action got closer home without fears. Because our house was close to the forest, it was quite easier to do this (See Fig. 2)
One of my daughters would put bananas on her laps and the monkeys would jump and pick. He made one of our sons convey logs from nearby village to construct some structures purposely for feeding monkeys. It was because of the monkeys that he made this structure [pointing to a wooden frame linking the pillars of the house]. He tied a rope with bananas along the bar; when these bananas get ripened, monkeys would come, pluck and eat. By and large, they kept trooping to the house and other households in their numbers. (See Fig. 3)
By and large, the timely intervention and pragmatic undertakings by Mr. Akowuah which garnered micro-, meso-, and macro support helped develop Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary into sustainable developmental resource for the Boabeng-Fiema community. In the discussion, a traditional chief suggested that nature could provide people or community with an endowment but it takes “champions” to develop such natural endowment into a valuable resource or community-wide asset. He remarked:
There was a white researcher who set a machine and placed all kinds of foods behind Mr Akowuah’s house for some months.. that sought to train them [the monkeys]….There was one Mrs Sackey who helped in the process… Today they [monkeys] do not fear guns, if they see you with a gun, they won’t be moved….
⋯ the monkeys were prevalent, you would see them swinging on the trees when going to the farm. He [Akowuah] saw to it that the right institutions and regulations were passed to protect the monkeys, even the passage of the by laws, I cannot take it away from him. He had a bit of education and knew the tourism potential that monkeys could provide.
Monkeys in BFMS have consequently become more human-friendly attracting researchers and tourists from across the globe which exposes the community to many socio-economic opportunities (see Figs. 4, 5, and 6).
Public Education and Sensitization
The role of social education to get people adopt appreciable environmental conservation attitude cannot be overemphasized even where there are formal or informal rules in place. In this BFMS case, the approach adopted by the “champion” helped each of the partners [champion and the Savior Church] to understand each other’s perspectives and also to learn from different knowledge bases; through that he was able to explain to them the community-wide benefit that could be associated with the monkeys if conserved well. Wheatly (1992) explains that although such public sensitization effort may not completely curtail the problem, it can considerably reduce the threats to conservation efforts (cited in Borrini-Feyerabend et al. 2004).
To sensitize the church people, he himself converted to become a member of Savior Church but had intention to educate and to make them to understand why they should not hunt or destroy the beauty of the wildlife. With time, he was able to convince them, once that mission got accomplished he discontinued attending that church.
Championing Conservation Efforts: A Challenging Yet Worthwhile Activity
Another participant explained a price the champion had to pay for promoting or facilitating the domestication of monkey. She submitted:
Even nananom [traditional rulers and elders] appeared not to really understand or appreciate his actions and initiatives at the time. There was a time he was summoned before the paramount chief of Nkoranza but nananom at the time did not really rally behind him.
In spite of the apparent challenges, the “champion” remained steadfast in his commitment and today the monkeys in Boabeng-Fiema have received international exposure attracting researchers and tourists from every part of Ghana and abroad generating income for the community through a stipulated benefit sharing system (see Eshun and Tonto 2014). To that end, the conservation efforts of and strategies by Mr. Akowuah – the champion – has helped transform the community’s natural endowment into a community-wide sustainable and valuable asset, a major source of income, development, and prestige to the Boabeng-Fiema community (Figs. 4, 5, and 6; see also Eshun and Tonto 2014). It is in recognition of the champion’s [Akowuah] efforts that the main trail that leads to the sanctuary is named after him; it is the first trail any visitor glimpses an eye on (Fig. 2).
There was even one man whose kenkey [local food made of maize] was eaten by a monkey and he rushed Mr Akowuah for money to replace the kenkey and his argument was that it was Mr Akowuah encouraging the animals to come home
Conclusions and Policy Implications
The case study provides evidence that human actions towards nature could engender appropriate natural resource outcomes and preferred behavioral changes which would yield benefit to society. From the discussion, the study draws the following key conclusions:
Firstly, the role of individuals and leadership remains a cornerstone in natural resource governance. Within the developed institutional and governance set up, the championing roles of unique individuals remain phenomenal and the catalyst in such processes. Individuals as students, researchers, or community members could initiate a process which could lead to the transformation of a redundant or exploited natural endowment into a sustainable resource or asset. In other words, the interrelated set of actions and strategies could lead to a paradigm shift in how people conceptualize and relate to a particular resource as well as the kind of benefits it would generate to community members.
Secondly, transforming community natural supply [such as river, wildlife, trees, mountains, waterfall] from just being a natural endowment to a developmental resource and community asset requires a championing role of individual(s) who garner(s) support of others to catalyze or call for external support to achieve such purpose. More related, the study contends that a given natural resource endowment in one community could remain idle or even destroyed, while same endowment could be utilized as a developmental resource in another society because of contextual differences (see Estrada et al. 2017).
Thirdly, the study observes that it does not necessarily require the legitimate authority or the state to kick-start conservation or collaborative arrangements towards effective natural resource governance. Concerned individuals and groups could adapt some of the strategies used by the champion in this case study to contextualize. The study contends that initiating and championing a particular course of action requires interrelated set of activities which need to be done tactfully including immersing oneself in the community’s social ways so as to win their trust (see also Yeboah-Assiamah et al. 2016). In the case of Mr. Akwouah [the champion], he had to attend the Savior Church not because he wished but had the objective of using the platform to reorient the church members to stop hunting and haunting monkeys.
Finally, a major postulation of this entry is to reorient readers [researchers, students, advocates, and policy makers] that it could take the action of individual, group of individuals to champion a particular course that could provide future benefits with respect to how a given community endowment turns out to be a developmental resource. The study argues that the direction of pedagogy should also seek to reorient students or rural communities [targeting influential ones] on how best they could initiate some context-specific actions that could spark up a debate on how best a more or less redundant or exploited resource endowment could be transformed into a sustainable asset, well conserved while providing greater value to society, powered by appropriate governance structures and institutional underpinning.
- Atkinson P, Hammersley M (1994) Ethnography and participant observation. In: Denzin NK, Lincoln YS (eds) Handbook of qualitative research. Sage, Thousand Oaks, pp 248–260Google Scholar
- Borrini-Feyerabend G, Pimbert M, Farvar T, Kothari A, Renard Y (2004) Sharing power. Learning by doing in co-management of natural resources throughout the world. Iied and iucn/ceesp/cmwg, Cenesta, TeheránGoogle Scholar
- Bourdieu P (1986) The forms of capital. In: Richardson JG (ed) Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education. Greenwood, New York, pp 241–258Google Scholar
- Coleman JS (1990) Foundations of social theory. Belknap Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
- Denzin NK, Lincoln YS (2011) The sage handbook of qualitative research. Sage Publications, –Los AngelesGoogle Scholar
- Estrada A, Garber PA, Rylands AB, Roos C, Fernandez-Duque E, Di Fiore A et al (2017) Impending extinction crisis of the world’s primates: why primates matter. Sci Adv 3(1):1–16Google Scholar
- Gray B (1989) Collaborating: finding common ground for multiparty problems. Jossey-Bass, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
- Olson M (1982) The rise and decline of nations: Economic growth, stagflation and social rigidities. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
- Olsson P, Gunderson L, Carpenter S, Ryan P, Lebel L, Folke C, Holling CS (2006) Shooting the rapids: navigating transitions to adaptive governance of social-ecological systems. Ecol Soc 11(1)Google Scholar
- Ostrom E, Ahn TK (2009) The meaning of social capital and its link to collective action. In: Svendsen GT (ed) Handbook of social capital: the troika of sociology, political science and economics. Edwards Elgar, CheltenhamGoogle Scholar
- Putnam RD (1993) The prosperous community: social capital and public life. Am Prospect 4Google Scholar
- Reeves S, Kuper A, Hodges BD (2008) Qualitative research methodologies: ethnography. BMJ 337:512–514Google Scholar
- Wilson S (2008) Research is ceremony: indigenous research methods. Fernwood, WinnipegGoogle Scholar
- Yeboah-Assiamah E, Muller K, Domfeh KA (2017) ‘Complex crisis’ and the rise of collaborative natural resource governance: institutional trajectory of a wildlife governance experience in Ghana. Environ Dev Sustain:1–20. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-017-9985-x