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close this book Co-Operatives In Natural Resources Management Workshop report 10
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1. Introduction

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.

 

Workshop papers

In all, 25 papers including the theme paper were contributed to the Workshop. The research reported in the papers covered the co-operatives engaged in the use and management of common pool natural resources of land, water, forests, and fisheries. The geographic coverage of the research was nation-wide: east, west, north and south India. Of the 25 papers, 21 were based on in-depth case-studies conducted by the research collaborators; the remaining four abstracted from a variety of sources including literature review and the researchers’ own experi-ences. Of the 21 case-studies, nine were focussed on wastelands afforestation and forest management, six on water resources management, and the remaining six on fisheries (Table 1).

Table-1: Distribution of Case Studies by Category of Natural Resource and Geographic Region of India

 

Natural resource category

Geographic region

All

 

East

West

North

South

 

1.

Land

-

3

-

-

3

2.

Tree plantations

2

1

-

1

4

3.

Natural forest

-

1

1

-

2

4.

Surface-water

-

4

-

-

4

5.

Groundwater

-

1

-

1

2

6.

Inland fisheries

1

-

1

-

2

7.

Marine fisheries

1

-

-

3

4

 

All

4

10

2

5

21