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Revolt and Remember: How the Shimshal Nature Trust Develops and Sustains Social-Ecological Resilience in Northern Pakistan

Mehjabeen Abidi-Habib, Government College University Lahore
Anna Lawrence, Oxford University

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Abstract

The Shimshal Nature Trust is an indigenous institution rooted in a thriving and dynamic culture that links the local ecology and society. It has deployed identity, traditional knowledge, science, and institutional innovation to adapt to outside challenges without destroying local commons management. This paper reviews scholarly debate on natural resource management and uses resilience theory to examine this complex adaptive system. Two disturbances to Shimshal resilience prompted by a national park and a new road are traced. Shimshali responses include social processes of learning, knowledge systems, and renewal. Ways in which adaptive renewal cycles involve Revolt, a short, fast reaction, and Remember, a larger, slower cascade, are put in perspective. Simple and powerful qualities that guide change are highlighted. We conclude that the Shimshal Nature Trust creates a resilient interface between the outside and inside worlds. Government, donors, and academics can participate in contextualized action-learning cycles that result in more informed and negotiated contributions to local institutions for commons management.

Key words

Pakistan; indigenous institution; local commons management; ecological resilience; complex adaptive systems; social learning; renewal; national park; new road; community participation
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087