Inclusive Protected Area Management in the Amazon: The Importance of Social Networks over Ecological Knowledge
In the Amacayacu National Park in Colombia, which partially overlaps with Indigenous territories, several elements of an inclusive protected area management model have been implemented since the 1990s. In particular, a dialogue between scientific researchers, indigenous people and park staff has been promoted for the co-production of biological and cultural knowledge for decision-making. This paper, based on a four-year ethnographic study of the park, shows how knowledge products about different components of the socio-ecosystem neither were efficiently obtained nor were of much importance in park management activities. Rather, the knowledge pertinent to park staff in planning and management is the know-how required for the maintenance and mobilization of multi-scale social-ecological networks. We argue that the dominant models for protected area management—both top-down and inclusive models—underestimate the sociopolitical realm in which research is expected to take place, over-emphasize ecological knowledge as necessary for management and hold a too strong belief in decision-making as a rational, organized response to diagnosis of the PA, rather than acknowledging that thick complexity needs a different form of action. Co-production of knowledge is crucial for governance, but mainly not for the reasons for which it is promoted.
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