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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Indigenous perspectives and resource management contexts: the case of northeastern Nicaragua Caddy, Emma


As natural resources become scarcer, stakeholder competition over them has grown both more frequent and intense. Resource conflicts between indigenous peoples and nation-states can prove particularly problematic, since these stakeholders often perceive their respective management interests as being mutually incompatible. However, since inter-stakeholder competition invariably fosters destructive and short-termist patterns of environmental use, resource conflicts have to be addressed and resolved. The potential of co-management arrangements - whereby competing stakeholders become partners in the development and implementation of management policies - to resolve conflicts between nation-states and indigenous peoples, is currently enjoying increasing cross-disciplinary support. Joint stewardship arrangements are not, however, always easily established. Incorporating the perspectives of those indigenous peoples who have historically been marginalised from management processes, and who must now be integrated within them, represents an essential precondition of co-management success. This thesis analyses indigenous environmental perspectives in northeastern Nicaragua - with particular reference to the Miskitu Indians and forestry resources - to determine the types of cultural and context-specific considerations which genuine and sustainable co-management arrangements in this particular region would need to accommodate. Four principal spheres of indigenous experience, which inform Miskitu environmental perspectives, shapes the analytical framework: indigenous communities; institutions; global economies; political negotiation and leadership. By employing a multi-level, interdisciplinary and dialectic analysis, the thesis presents an alternative theoretical approach to resource managers attempting to understand and resolve comparative instances of inter-stakeholder conflict. It also strongly urges managers to appreciate the complexity and uniqueness of respective indigenous perspectives and management contexts, and the need to reject stereotypical representations of indigenous peoples, communities and institutions, when attempting to develop co-management agreements. Whilst joint stewardship remains an important goal for resolving resource-conflicts between indigenous peoples and nation-states, it might not prove immediately viable in every management context. Locally-specific obstacles can indeed thwart the development of sustainable co-management regimes. In the particular case of northeastern Nicaragua, governance systems will need to be strengthened, inter-stakeholder trust fostered, and communities closely facilitated, before regional co-management initiatives can become effective.

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