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Adapting prospective structural analysis to strengthen sustainable management and capacity building in community-based natural resource management contexts

María del Mar Delgado-Serrano, Department of Agriculture Economics, Sociology and Policy, Universidad de Córdoba, Spain
Pieter Vanwildemeersch, Department of Agriculture Economics, Sociology and Policy, Universidad de Córdoba, Spain
Silvia London, IIESS, UNS-CONICET; Departamento de Economía UNS, Argentina
Cesar E. Ortiz-Guerrero, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá, Colombia
Roberto Escalante Semerena, Faculty of Economics, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico
Mara Rojas, IIESS, UNS-CONICET; Departamento de Economía UNS, Argentina


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Local communities collectively managing common pool resources can play an important role in sustainable management, but they often lack the skills and context-specific tools required for such management. The complex dynamics of social-ecological systems (SES), the need for management capacities, and communities’ limited empowerment and participation skills present challenges for community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) strategies. We analyzed the applicability of prospective structural analysis (PSA), a strategic foresight tool, to support decision making and to foster sustainable management and capacity building in CBNRM contexts and the modifications necessary to use the tool in such contexts. By testing PSA in three SES in Colombia, Mexico, and Argentina, we gathered information regarding the potential of this tool and its adaptation requirements. The results suggest that the tool can be adapted to these contexts and contribute to fostering sustainable management and capacity building. It helped identify the systems’ dynamics, thus increasing the communities’ knowledge about their SES and informing the decision-making process. Additionally, it drove a learning process that both fostered empowerment and built participation skills. The process demanded both time and effort, and required external monitoring and facilitation, but community members could be trained to master it. Thus, we suggest that the PSA technique has the potential to strengthen CBNRM and that other initiatives could use it, but they must be aware of these requirements.

Key words

Argentina; Colombia; Latin America; local knowledge; Mexico; participatory techniques; social-ecological systems; strategic foresight

Copyright © 2016 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work 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