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Actor network analysis to leverage improvements in conservation and development outcomes in Cambodia

Rebecca A. Riggs, Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science, College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia; Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada; Tanah Air Beta, Bali, Indonesia
James D. Langston, Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada; Tanah Air Beta, Bali, Indonesia
Sithan Phann, Wildlife Conservation Society, Cambodia Program


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Network analysis has emerged as a useful practice for characterizing governance relationships and providing insights to the power relations that affect landscapes. We applied actor network analysis in two rural Cambodian landscapes to examine decision-making structures that affect conservation and development systems. Using questionnaire data, we analyze structural features of networks of cooperation and exchange to identify patterns of action and processes of change. We supplement our analysis with qualitative information gathered on power and social–ecological components of landscapes to enrich our understanding of natural resource systems. We find that power in Cambodia is concentrated in a central hierarchy, and external actors aiming to influence decision making would benefit from operating at multiple scales; there is no single leverage point for interventions. Cooperation between conservation and development actors is lacking; we observe that actors tend to cluster within similar groups. Cross-sectoral collaboration may be enhanced by knowledge brokers, but current actors lack resources to fulfil this role and require external support. Our study highlights the importance of nongovernment actors as conveners and facilitators to shape natural resource governance in the context of weak institutions. We advocate more institutionalized use of diagnostics, such as actor network analysis, for enhanced natural resource governance.

Key words

Actor network analysis; Cambodia; landscape transitions; natural resource governance; social–ecological systems

Copyright © 2020 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087