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Asim Zia: Cross-Scale Value Trade-Offs in Managing Socio-Ecological Systems

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Management of socio-ecological systems takes place amidst complex governance processes and cross-scale institutional arrangements that are mediated through politics of scale. Each management scenario generates distinct cross-scale trade-offs in the distribution of pluralistic values. Dr. Zia discusses here his study, which explores the hypothesis that conservation-oriented management scenarios generate higher value for international and national scale social organizations, while mixed or more balanced management scenarios generate higher value for local scale social organizations. This hypothesis is explored in the management context of Ruaha National Park (RNP), Tanzania, especially the 2006 expansion of RNP that led to the eviction of many pastoralists and farmers. Five management scenarios for RNP -- national park, game reserve, game control area, multiple use area, and open area - are evaluated in a multi-criteria decision analytical framework on six valuation criteria -- economic welfare; good governance; socio-cultural values; social equity; ecosystem services; and biodiversity protection -- and at three spatial scales: local, national and international. Based upon this evaluation, we discuss the politics of scale that ensue from the implementation of management alternatives with different mixes of conservation and development goals in socio-ecological systems.

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