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Collaborative management as a way to enhance Araucaria Forest resilience

Tagliari M.M., Levis C., Flores B.M., Blanco G.D., Freitas C.T., Bogoni J.A., Vieilledent G., Peroni N.. 2021. Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation, 19 (2) : p. 131-142.

DOI: 10.1016/j.pecon.2021.03.002

People and nature interact since millennia in forests worldwide, but current management strategies addressing these ecosystems often exclude local people from the decision-making process. This top-down approach is the cornerstone of conservation initiatives, particularly in highly threatened and fragmented forested ecosystems. In contrast, collaborative management involving the participation of local communities has increasingly contributed to conservation efforts globally. Here we ask how collaborative management would contribute to the conservation of a threatened, culturally important, and keystone tree species. We address this question in the Araucaria Forest System1 (AFS) in southern Brazil, where the main conservation strategy has been top-down based on restrictive use. Throughout the entire distribution of AFS, we interviewed 97 smallholders about how they use and manage Araucaria angustifolia trees (araucaria). We integrated their Traditional Ecological Knowledge2 (TEK) with a literature review about the conservation status of Araucaria Forests to analyze potential outcomes of two alternative conservation models: top-down with restrictive use, and bottom-up with collaborative management. We identified the feedback mechanisms in each model, and how they dampen or self-reinforced critical processes for AFS resilience. Our models showed that a top-down strategy maintains forest cover resilient to illegal logging but at the cost of losing TEK (undermining socio-ecological resilience) and forest resilience to other external disturbances, such as climate change. Alternatively, a bottom-up approach based on successful collaborative management schemes may increase the general resilience of AFS, while preserving TEK, thus contributing to maintaining the entire social-ecological system. Our findings indicate how it is paramount to maintain TEK to conserve AFS in the long term through collaborative management. By including local actors in the governance of AFS, its resilience is reinforced, promoting forest expansion, maintenance of TEK, and participatory conservation.

Mots-clés : résilience des forêts; araucaria; collaboration; gestion de la santé des forêts; conservation des forêts; co-management [en]; brésil

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