Perceived barriers to effective multilevel governance of human-natural systems: an analysis of Marine Protected Areas in Vietnam

Type Journal Article - Journal of Political Ecology
Title Perceived barriers to effective multilevel governance of human-natural systems: an analysis of Marine Protected Areas in Vietnam
Volume 19
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2012
Page numbers 17-35
Understanding the relationships between natural and human systems has become an essential step for
natural resource management and biodiversity conservation. Increasingly, the functional interdependencies
of these systems have been recognized by scientists. Humans, especially local communities, are perceived
as direct users of natural resources, and immediately affected by environmental degradation. Humans are
the root of both causes and solutions for these problems (Bulkeley and Mol 2003). Furthermore, there is an
assumption that local communities may possess more substantive knowledge than other actors about the
resources and areas where they live. Hence communities could be the best managers of resources or at the
least they must be actively involved in resource management (Western and Wright 1994, Sponsel et al.
1996). Community participation, together with other actors, is deemed to be crucial for any environmental
governance program (Kapoor 2001; Layzer 2002; Bulkeley and Mol 2003).
There is an extensive literature on the shift from an administrative state to a collaborative state (Koontz
and Thomas 2006) and from hierarchical government to multilevel governance of environmental issues
(Rhodes 1997; Dwyer 1998; Davis and Rhodes 2000; Pierre and Peters 2000; Considine 2001; Peters and
Pierre 2001; Banner 2002; Newman et al. 2004). This is especially so for protected areas where there are a
range of actors and stakeholders across different levels and scales possessing various, but often conflicting,
powers and interests (Brown et al. 2001). Over the past decade, the human or social dimension, including
organisations, institutions, human behaviour, social capital and social interactions between actors has been
studied to further understand the nature of grassroots causes of environmental issues (Janssen and Jager
2001; Pretty and Ward 2001; Lansing 2003; Pretty and Smith 2004). Studies have been undertaken of the
participation and collaboration of civil society and other stakeholders, and their values and characteristics in
environmental governance. Some solutions have been found for uncertainties and changes of complex
human-natural systems (Lee 1993; Grumbine 1994; Dietz et al. 2003). A number of barriers have been
studied to participation and collaboration in governance of these systems, but are not sufficiently
understood. This circumstance is also recognized in Vietnam

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