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Exploring Social Resilience in Madagascarís Marine Protected Areas

Joshua Cinner, James Cook University
Mariana M. P. B. Fuentes, James Cook University
Herilala Randriamahazo, Wildlife Conservation Society


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We examined and compared aspects of local-level resilience in 13 coastal communities within and adjacent to all of Madagascar’s national marine protected areas. Our examination of social resilience focused on indicators of the flexibility of household livelihood portfolios and both formal and informal governance institutions, the capacity of communities to organize, their capacity to learn, and access to household assets and community infrastructure. In general, we found high levels of flexibility in formal institutions and livelihood portfolios and high levels of participation in decision-making and community groups. Together, these indicators suggest some latent capacity to adaptively manage resources, but this capacity may be offset by poor levels of trust between communities and resource managers, a poor understanding of the ways in which humans affect marine resources, inadequate feedback of ecological monitoring to communities, inflexibility in informal governance institutions, and a lack of assets to draw upon. We suggest that building desirable resilience in Madagascar’s marine protected areas will require the following: investments in community-level infrastructure, projects to generate household income, and enhanced agricultural production to improve the well-being of communities; improvements in the capacity to learn through investments in formal and informal education; enhanced trust between park staff and local communities; empowerment of communities to govern and enforce natural resources; the increased accountability of leaders and transparency of governance processes; adequate cross-scale interaction with local, provincial, and national institutions; and the pursuit of these activities in ways that capitalize on community-specific strengths, such as high flexibility and the presence of sociocultural institutions such as taboos that regulate resource use.

Key words

resilience; coral reefs; socioeconomic aspects; marine protected areas; Madagascar

Copyright © 2009 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087