Who Is in the Commons: Defining Community, Commons, and Time in Long-Term Natural Resource Management

  • Michael R. Dove
  • Amy JohnsonEmail author
  • Manon Lefebvre
  • Paul Burow
  • Wen Zhou
  • Lav Kanoi
Part of the Studies in Human Ecology and Adaptation book series (STHE, volume 11)


When we speak of long-term community resource management, it is necessary to qualify our terms. How is the community enacting resource management defined? How are communities practicing collective resource management relate to others in the commons, such as international development organizations and states? How do community practices shift in and out of focus as resource management strategies change over time? The chapter addresses these thematic questions through a series of case studies spanning continents and centuries. To understand participation in community resource management projects, we describe women-focused mangrove reforestation program in Madagascar alongside the management of bison-kin by the Salish and Kootenai on the National Bison Range in the USA. These cases extend the community into relations with state and non-state actors. Such dimension becomes the center of attention in examples from forest conservation in the Congo Basin and step-well water management in colonial India. The practices valued as community resource management today were not always thought well of and may be dismissed in the future. Changing public attitudes toward swidden agriculture is a case in point. Through the temporality of swidden, we conclude that changing attitudes reflect the confrontation between local and metropolitan visions of proper relations between society and environment. What is asked of community resource management is to determine these relationships through the promotion of specific practices, we are mindful who participates in decision-making and what is asked in every encounter.


Resource management Community Commons Cooperation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael R. Dove
    • 1
  • Amy Johnson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Manon Lefebvre
    • 1
  • Paul Burow
    • 1
  • Wen Zhou
    • 1
  • Lav Kanoi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologySchool of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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