Indigenous people and co-management: Implications for conflict management

Alfonso Peter Castro, Erik Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

246 Scopus citations


Co-management agreements among indigenous people, state agencies, and other stakeholders offer substantial promise as a way of dealing with natural resource conflicts in a participatory and equitable manner. However, experience shows that co-management regimes can set into motion new conflicts or cause old ones to escalate. In practice the result may not be power sharing but rather a strengthening of the state's control over resource policy, management, and allocation. Instead of contributing to local empowerment, such arrangements may further marginalize communities and resource users. We use case material, primarily from northern Canada and South Asia, to explore the pervasive role of conflict in generating, shaping, and influencing the performance of co-management regimes. The paper analyzes the divergent interests and motives of state agencies in planning and implementing co-management arrangements. It highlights the cultural, political, and legal obstacles encountered by indigenous people and other rural communities in trying to negotiate co-management arrangements. We also explore the conflicts that can arise in co-management regimes where local participation in decision making is very limited. General lessons and recommendations are drawn from our analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-239
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - Aug 2001


  • Bangladesh
  • Canada
  • Co-management
  • Community forestry
  • Conflict management
  • India
  • Indigenous people
  • Natural resource conflicts
  • Negotiations
  • Participation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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