May 26, 2012

Understanding complex natural systems

One of the most important lessons to be learned from common-pool resource management is that no one solution is appropriate in all circumstances. While certain ecological and social principles can guide us in understanding how watersheds work and how humans interact with them, these principles will never tell us all we need to know about every basin—this understanding must come from a place-based assessment of the specific physical, ecological, climatic, societal, and economic factors shaping that particular place and people. General principles can guide us in determining the appropriate institutions and organizations needed to manage a complex natural system, but we must also take into account the cultural, social, and economic attributes of the community at hand.
That is from this article (Jan 2012) by Allen et al (Elinor Ostrom is also author). There are four illustrative cases. 

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