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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Exploring barriers to success for community-based organizations engaged in the adaptive co-management of parkland Jerowsky, Micheal


For decades, leaders in environmental governance have been directing the attention of their peers towards co-management frameworks. These participatory approaches to land management connect local communities and governments through power-sharing, and enhanced stakeholder engagement. Adaptive co-management is a distinct approach within this tradition that encourages flexibility and adaptability within environmental management through participatory governance, and an iterative, trial-by-error approach to understanding social-ecological systems. However, while the conceptual understanding of adaptive co-management has grown considerably over the years, critics have highlighted that the knowledge and representation of how this process occurs is lacking. This is particularly true regarding parkland. To begin addressing this concern, I conducted a multiple ethnographic case-study of four community-based organizations in Vancouver, British Columbia that are engaged in the adaptive co-management of parkland alongside their regional land manager. Specifically, I aimed to: (1) explore barriers to adaptive co-management related to citizen monitoring, institutional culture, and stakeholder engagement; (2) highlight the lived experience of participants to provide a thicker description for understanding the adaptive co-management process; and (3) suggest solutions and avenues for future research. A broad array of barriers existed for participants in this study. First, a lack of understanding regarding the quality of citizen data has led to funding shortages for citizen monitoring programs, and a regional disparity in their utilization. Second, rigid communication and information technology policies have resulted from unequal organizational growth, and an institutional fear of decentralized technology. Finally, stakeholder engagement has been reduced due to the marginalization of “outsider organizations,” and a lack of actor-level diversity on community boards. In response to these findings, I conclude this thesis with a series of five best practices that are based on suggestions emerging from the literature and my participants: These include: (1) Increased internal funding for citizen monitoring programs; (2) the use of a holistic data quality assessment framework; (3) the adoption of more flexible and transparent communication policies; (4) the adoption of an Agile information technology framework; and (5) the formalization of community-led bridging organizations to support stakeholder mediation.

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