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Improved resource management for better ecosystems

An EU-funded initiative has created a network of practitioners and researchers to study the governance of commons in southern Africa. Project outcomes target an improved approach to the subject for enhanced management and exploitation of natural resources.
Improved resource management for better ecosystems
Many southern African natural resources are legally recognised as commons, a term describing shared resources in which all stakeholders have equal interests. In southern Africa, the topic of their governance has received much attention from researchers as well as respective government agencies.

The 'Cross sectoral commons governance in southern Africa' (Croscog) project was a Specific Support Action (SSA) seeking to build on and share commons governance–related research and experiences of institutions dealing with particular problems of resource management. The focus was on large-scale natural resource commons across the region’s various ecosystem types. These included arid and semi-arid grasslands, savannas and forest patches, and marine and other large water-body coastal zones.

Recognising the need for information-sharing about effective commons governance, the EU-funded project based its work on the view that addressing natural resource degradation in Africa calls for ways of identifying, encouraging and reproducing, on a large scale, positive practices of commons management. Carried out in two thematic phases, the network of researchers and practitioners produced a series of papers based on their findings.

Papers from the first phase, with the theme of knowledge, economic transformation, power and existing commons practices, focused on a set of specific cases each representing a particular ecosystem. The second phase, with the theme of building on existing practices to promote effective governance, included purely case-based work and comparative papers focusing on cross-case issues that emerged from discussions in the first theme. These issues included tourism, addressing historical discrimination and co-management institutions — all as related to the commons.

General project activities included workshops, networking and policy events, and specific recommendations in the form of messages to communities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and policymakers. Through specific, targeted-outreach and dissemination efforts, Croscog worked to share the gathered information and study results with policymakers in southern Africa, local communities and the global scientific community, among others. The activities and their outcomes bode well for improved actions to be taken in the management and governance of commons.

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