Bridging Organizations to Improve Conservation Fit in the Coral Triangle
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This dissertation investigates how bridging organizations influence the processes and outcomes of coastal-marine governance and conservation. Novel ways of governing are crucial in conservation to navigate the ‘messiness’ inherent in dynamic and socially complex coastal-marine settings. This means not only engaging with the diversity of social actors and their variable interests, but also with the breadth and depth of other social dimensions such as cultural context, knowledge diversity, power dynamics and narratives. Here, I examine the roles and functions of multiple bridging organizations to better understand their contributions to governance outcomes for conservation and politics, and in ways that nurture better fit between conservation initiatives and social dimensions. Bridging organizations are defined here as independent entities designed to connect diverse actors or groups through some form of bridging process. My research is situated in the southeast Asia Coral Triangle (CT), and based on three case studies from across southern Indonesia: the Bali Marine Protected Area Network, the Nusa Penida Marine Protected Area and the East Buleleng Conservation Zone. A mixed-methods, multiple case study approach was applied, and integrated quantitative and qualitative methods and data. Data were collected via sociometric network survey, semi-structured interviews, participant observations, and document collection and review. Diverse actors and organizations were included at multiple scales (from community to international) and across multiple sectors (e.g., tourism, fisheries, biodiversity conservation). The dissertation consists of three core manuscripts. Manuscript I studies how bridging organizations can cultivate social networks to support interactive processes between actors for more collaborative and adaptive coastal-marine governance. Here, networks are made up of a wealth of actor groups, such as governments, local resource users, community-based entities, universities, NGOs, etc. Manuscript II synthesizes insights from cases to assess the efficacy of bridging organizations in enhancing conservation fit, and points to their importance for better aligning conservation initiatives with their social context (e.g., institutions, culture, practices), fostering appropriate governance processes and instruments, and for connecting people and conservation initiatives across scales and levels. Manuscript III draws on insights from the political ecology literature to examine how bridging organizations define and give meaning to conservation issues in ways that embody and exercise value judgments and power, and which produce specific consequences for people and conservation actions. Evidence is introduced and reinforced that bridging organizations strengthen coastal-marine governance with significant implications for conservation processes and outcomes. Improved understanding of bridging organizations benefits policy makers, managers and practitioners by contributing empirical insight of their varied roles and functions, determining enabling conditions and constraints associated with bridging activities, and by identifying new opportunities, lessons learned and best practices to engage and support bridging organizations and bridging processes. While findings here are based on research carried out across Bali, they also have broader relevance to other areas of the CT and beyond that face similar challenges to achieving positive conservation momentum. Biodiversity and ecosystems of global importance are at stake in this region, as well as the wellbeing of millions of people who depend on coastal-marine resources as a source of income, livelihoods, food security and culture. Noteworthy theoretical and practical contributions are offered to an emerging literature on bridging organizations. This research illustrates the benefit of crossing theoretical lines for empirical investigations of bridging organizations, and the methodological utility of social network analysis therein. Research here expands thinking of social dimensions in conservation policy and practice, and contributes insight on the importance of thinking critically about bridging organizations using a political ecology approach. In addition, research findings contribute empirically based understanding of the significance of bridging organizations in navigating social complexity and uncertainty in coastal-marine environments, and provide nuanced understanding of the inputs and strategies used to transition toward more inclusive, adaptive and cross-scale conservation initiatives. Collectively, these contributions represent important advances in bridging organization research with regard to identifying analytical frameworks that both transcend theoretical and conceptual boundaries, and which aid policy makers, managers and practitioners in the design and implementation of more robust conservation initiatives.
Cite this work
Samantha Berdej (2017). Bridging Organizations to Improve Conservation Fit in the Coral Triangle. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/11171