Of Mangroves and Middlemen : A study of social and ecological linkages in a coastal community

University dissertation from Stockholm : Institutionen för systemekologi

Abstract: This thesis studies some of the links between the social and ecological components in a coastal Social-Ecological System (SES) of East Africa to gain insight into factors affecting natural resource management at a community level. It does so by assessing the return of ecosystem goods and services in restored mangroves through both ecological and socio-economic measurements, and by empirically studying variations and diversity in content of local ecological knowledge among resource users, its relation to valuation of ecosystem goods and services and its distribution across a social network.Taking its starting point in a study of the return of ecological functions in restored mangroves (Paper I) the main results of the thesis are presented in three sections. The ecological perspective, showing restored mangroves as nursery grounds for juvenile shrimp communities, is complemented by findings from interviews with local user groups revealing a range of ecosystem goods and services associated with natural and replanted forests (Paper II). The thesis moves on to show heterogeneity in local ecological knowledge held by groups of resource users (Paper III) and how this can be correlated with structure of the social network for transferring such information and knowledge (Paper IV). This network structure is elaborated upon in the third and final section to look at the role it might play for community social capital and for structurally well positioned individuals to access such capital and initiate collective action for natural resource management (Paper V). The role played by social capital in shaping the informal institution represented by middlemen in the study area is also touched upon as is the function of middlemen in linking social and ecological dynamics of the coupled Social Ecological System (Paper VI). Finally, the implications of these findings are discussed in the context of natural resource management with focus on co-management and community involvement.

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