Globalization, local commons, and the multiscale ecosystem framework (MEF)

Authored by: Timothy O. Randhir

Routledge Handbook of the Study of the Commons

Print publication date:  January  2019
Online publication date:  January  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138060906
eBook ISBN: 9781315162782
Adobe ISBN:


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Local commons are vital to supporting ecosystems and livelihoods. Wetlands, rivers, riparian forests, savannas, tropical forests, coastal waters, and groundwater are examples of common pool resources that are critical to ecosystem functions of a region and livelihood of local communities. With the decline in local commons under unsustainable extraction without management, there is an increasing threat of loss in the environmental and economic sustainability of regions around the globe. While many studies have highlighted the importance of looking at management and governance at multiple scales, applications of the multiscale ecosystem framework (Randhir, 2016) remain in infancy. Without evaluating the linkages between scales, management of common pool resources will be inefficient and make them vulnerable to exploitation across scales. In addition, a multiscale framework is critical for sustainability, a complex concept related to the often-quoted definition of sustainable development by the Brundtland Commission as “development that meets the needs of current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987). In this chapter, I review the role of scale in managing commons and use an MEF approach to evaluate local commons and their multiscale processes using specific case studies with the aim of evaluating management and governance opportunities.

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