Management of natural resources of land, water, forests, fish etc. of a nation is an important factor affecting the level and pace of its development. Many alternative systems of management of natural resources, especially common pool resources (CPRs), have been proposed by academics and practitioners. They include privatisation, nationalisation or centralised public management, and co-operative/ collective management by local people themselves. There is no single best system of management that could be commended for all situations and for all times to come. The choice of an appropriate system depends on several factors such as the characteristics of the resource, attributes of the resource users, the decision-making environment, and the goals of resource management. For improving the management of natural resources, it is necessary for the resource manager to understand the conditions under which each of the three alternative systems of resource management is likely to succeed as well as the conditions under which a system is likely to fail.
Late in 1991, the Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA) launched an ambitious programme of collaborative research on the management of rural co-operatives. The programme culminated into a ‘Symposium on Management of Rural Co-operatives’ held at IRMA during 7-11 December 1992. The symposium comprised of 15 workshops; one each on 15 different themes all of which were related to management of rural co-operatives. The Workshop on Co-operatives in Natural Resources Management was of one of the 15 workshops that comprised the symposium. The Programme Schedule of the Workshop is given in Annexure 1.
The Workshop aimed at exploring and critically analysing various factors affecting success and failure and identifying major issues and options in the co-operative management of natural resources of land, water, forests, and fisheries. More specifically, the Workshop had the following main objectives:
1. To examine the rationale of co-operative management of natural resources and review the current status of co-operatives engaged in the management of land, forests, water and fisheries resources;
2. To analyse cases of successes and failures in co-operative management of natural resources and identify the factors affecting both the successes and the failures;
3. To identify major issues and options to resolve them on the basis of analyses of the case-studies in the co-operative management of natural resources and a critical review of the literature available on the subject; and
4. To propose, discuss and finalise an agenda for future research in the area of co-operative management of natural resources.
The objectives of the Workshop were achieved mainly by analysing cases of both successes and failures in co-operative management of natural resources, and partly by a review of the literature available on the subject. Thirty-seven scholars including six IRMA faculty, policy-makers, administrators, managers, and practitioners attended the Workshop. A list of the participants is given in Annexure 2.