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Social-Ecological Systems Meta-Analysis Database: Variables

Variable TypeCategorical
Variable Component TypeGovernance System
Variable KindComponent
ThemeInstitutional-biophysical linkage (learn about themes)
QuestionWhat type(s) of knowledge does this governance system employ in its management of the commons it governs?
Select OptionsScientific knowledge, Local/traditional knowledge, Other
ImportanceThere has been quite a bit of discussion about the merits of using one or another type of knowledge as the basis for interacting with a commons. Most of this discussion has focused on the management of natural resources, and has emphasized the importance of local, traditional knowledge as a way to respond to the complex dynamics of local ecosystems (see Folke 2004 and associated articles). Some of this same literature has been critical of the exclusive emphasis on scientific knowledge as a way of managing natural resources, which has been most prominently exhibited in the discipline of scientific fisheries management. At the same time, scientific knowledge has been shown to be critically important in many pollution-based cases (e.g. in the governance of the Montreal Protocol, in which scientific knowledge was used to establish the importance for governance action in the first place), and for certain types of natural resources, such as groundwater aquifers, that are not easily examined and understood without science and technology. Cody et al. (2015), for example, described the importance of scientific information of the groundwater aquifers in the San Luis Valley of Colorado in enabling collective action and effective governance of these resources.

There are two main types of knowledge that have been discussed in the literature: (1) scientific knowledge and (2) local or traditional knowledge.

Scientific knowledge refers to systematized knowledge based on systematic inquiry. Generally, scientific knowledge refers to knowledge available in peer-reviewed publications or other highly reputable sources (e.g. such as some government reports), produced by scientists with formal training.

Local and traditional knowledge capture a diversity of forms of knowledge which are not based on scientific processes. Traditional knowledge refers to knowledge passed down through generations, generally among people living in a region for a long time - including, but not limited to indigenous people. Local knowledge refers to knowledge that people who live or work in an area have of the area or resource which may not be based on generations of residing in the area, but may be based on long observations by individuals. Although these people may have engaged in some kind of systematic inquiry to obtain this knowledge, it would generally not be published in formal sources, and the people conducting the inquiry would not have received systematic training in means of making systematic inquiry.


Theory Usages

TheoryValue Used
Polycentric comanagementScientific knowledge and Local/traditional knowledge
Community-based natural resource management (CBNRM)Local/traditional knowledge
Failure of centralized controlScientific
Parametric managementLocal/traditional knowledge
Numeric managementScientific
Cap-and-trade policiesScientific
Technical solutions and shifting the burdenScientific
Individual transferable quotas (ITQs)Scientific
Political decentralization and fitLocal/Traditional Knowledge

Component Usages

ComponentValue UsedExplanation
GMR governance system 1998-current["Scientific knowledge"]Scientific organisations feed into the management of the GMR. Although to what extent this information is then appropriately acted upon is debateable. Most of the residents on the Galapagos are immigrants from mainland Ecuador and so there is not the same body of local/traditional knowledge as would be considered in other parts of the world.
GBR Marine Park Act 1975-1999["Scientific knowledge"]
GBR Marine Park Act 2004-current["Scientific knowledge"]GBRMPA employs scientists, and collaborates with AIMS and universities, to generate and use scientific information
Wakatobi National Park 2008-current["Scientific knowledge"]Focus on scientific knowledge reflects the involvement of conservation NGOs - TNC/WWF - who were heavily involved in the original RAP assessments, zoning and rules of the MPA - although it is unclear if any current monitoring data is feeding into management.
NWHI Monument Act 2006["Scientific knowledge", "Local/traditional knowledge"]The Monument uses both types of knowledge to manage the MPA. Both scientific knowledge and traditional knowledge are part of the mandate to protect the area and are included in the action plans for monitoring the resources.
Raja Ampat Governance System["Scientific knowledge", "Local/traditional knowledge"]Heavy involvement of Conservation NGOs who provide much of the science to feed into the management. However, MPAs were originally built upon local-taboo/sasi management and this is still incorporated.
Joint Sanctuary Management Governance System ["Scientific knowledge"]The scientific grounding of the FMPs come from peer-reviewed literature and government-led research projects. The Sanctuaries are mandated to use the best available science.
Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery Management Plan["Scientific knowledge"]Scientific knowledge is used exclusively to govern appropriation of toothfish and develop regulations.
Macquarie Island Nature Reserve Management Plan ["Scientific knowledge"]
Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan["Scientific knowledge"]
Svalbard Environmental Protection Act["", "Scientific knowledge"]The Nature Reserves relies on scientific knowledge, and has a formal monitoring system (MOSJ). Note: Svalbard does not have an indigenous population. A variety of indicators are monitored: http://www.mosj.no/en/indicators/
Seaflower MPA Act 2005["Scientific knowledge", "Local/traditional knowledge"]Mapping of key areas/habitats was completed through participatory exercises with all stakeholders including artisanal fishers.
Galapagos Governance System 1998-current["Scientific knowledge"]Mainly focussed on scientific knowledge produced by CDF
Macquarie Island Marine Park Management Plan["Scientific knowledge"]Scientific knowledge is used almost, if not, totally exclusively. There is no resident population on the island other than researchers and workers for the Australian Antarctic Division.
GABMP (Commonwealth Waters) Plan of Management 2000 - 2005 and Management Plan 2005 - 2012["Scientific knowledge", "Local/traditional knowledge"]Scientific knowledge - Scientific knowledge on southern right whale and Australian sea lion habitat was used in the development of the MMPZ of the GABMP (CW). There was less known about the benthic flora and fauna of the GAB region at the time of Park designation but since then, at least 3 benthic surveys have been completed to learn more about the communities found inside and outside of the BPZ and to determine if this zone is representative sample of the GAB region. Scientific knowledge and local/traditional knowledge - A Steering Committee of Australian and South Australian government agencies guides the day-to-day management of the GABMP (CW). At the time of preparation of the 2005 - 2012 Management Plan, the committee consisted of representatives from both State and Commonwealth agencies (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage, South Australian Department for Environment and Heritage, Primary Industries and Resources South Australia), municipal government (District Council of Ceduna), and fishery and tourism commissions (South Australian Tourism Commission, Australian Fisheries Management Authority). There is also a non-government Consultative Committee that advises the Australian and South Australian governments about management of the Great Australian Bight Marine Park. The Consultative Committee represents general community interests, Indigenous interests, commercial interests and scientific interests in the Park and the State Park and includes representatives of the petroleum and fishery industries, Indigenous peoples, scientists (SARDI, CSIRO and environmental non-government organizations (The Wilderness Society).
Heard and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve Management Plan["Scientific knowledge"]With no human habitants on HIMI, the GS exclusively uses scientific knowledge.
Heard Island and McDonald Islands Fishery Management Plan["Scientific knowledge"]Management is very science-based with input from the AFMA, AAD, SARAG, CCAMLR and others; all of these groups include fisheries scientists. Biological and ecological information is actively gathered by AFMA fisheries observers (required on all Heard and McDonald Island fishing vessels). AAD, in collaboration with the AFMA, also carries out annual fisheries-independent surveys (random stratified trawl survey).
Cenderwasih governance systemNot Applicable
The Falkland Islands Government (FIG) Fisheries Department’s Falklands Interim Conservation and Management Zone (FICZ)["", "Scientific knowledge"]Scientific Mostly. The governance system heavily relies on the best available scientific information. However, much of the data is fishery dependent, thus relying on local knowledge, mostly from the Spanish masters and their 30 years experience. Not a long history of traditional knowledge to access, some whalers and Russian sheep herders.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Market Squid Fishery Management Plan["", "Scientific knowledge"]Scientific knowledge: While some regulations are a reflection of local factors (e.g. weekend closures are a social construction), management is scientifically focused. Little local knowledge.
New Zealand Quota Management System[""]Scientific Knowledge: Not much local tradition to access. Employes scientific.