Collective action on the western range: coping with external and internal threats

Abigail M. York, Michael L. Schoon

Abstract


Collaborative natural resource management institutions enable agents with diverse interests to come together to solve complex problems. These actors must overcome a series of collective action problems to create, maintain, and evolve these institutions. In addition to the challenge of heterogeneous actors, these commons social-ecological systems often face internal and external threats or disturbances. The institutional arrangements may be effective with problems that are internal to a social-ecological system – ones that they are designed to handle, but how do these arrangements cope with external disturbances, especially ones caused by large-scale political and economic decisions, events, and processes. Using ethnographic and archival data we conduct an institutional analysis outlining the existing and emerging collaboratives, the important actors, and ongoing efforts to cope with the five major challenges identified by rangeland actors. We trace the evolution of institutions on the western range with a focus on their ability to cope with challenges that are largely within the system – biodiversity, fire, and water management, and those that are driven externally by actors who are largely absent – border militarization and violence and exurbanization.


Keywords


Collaborative governance; collective action; disturbance; institutions; rangeland

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