How human-elephant relations are shaped: A case study of integrative governance process in Xishuangbanna, China
Feng Ba, Xiaoyun Li, Yao Zhang, Weiping Shi, Pei Zhang
Corresponding author: Xiaoyun Li, e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
Forest Policy and Economics, Published online
Abstract: The conservation of nature is of paramount importance for preserving biodiversity. However, it can also give rise to conflicts and challenges for communities dependent on natural resources. In this paper, we focus on the issue of Human-Elephant conflict (HEC) in Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve, China, and investigate the causal linkages between governance systems and HEC. Our research presents a comprehensive case study of a village located within the Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve, delving into the intricate dynamics of human-elephant relationships spanning a three-decade period. Drawing on the integrated governance (IG) theory and actor-centered power (ACP) perspectives, we analyze the influence and interaction of three policy systems—Asian elephant conservation policy, agricultural development policy, and forestry policy—on the governance of HECs. Through our examination of power dynamics among multiple actors involved in policy formulation and those affected by policies, we aim to identify the driving forces influencing governance performance. We have identified noteworthy patterns of synergy and conflicting interests among agricultural, forestry, and elephant conservation policies, which have evolved at different stages of governance. The interplay between these policy systems significantly influences the habitat of wild elephants, the land-use patterns of adjacent communities, and the livelihood strategies adopted by local farmers. As a result of these interactions, an adaptive governance strategy on Human-Elephant Conflicts has emerged. Our findings offer novel perspectives on understanding the nuanced transitions in human-elephant relationships, providing valuable insights into the implications of policy interactions.
Keywords: Human-elephant conflict; Integrative governance; Land use; Livelihood strategy; Power relationship
Link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forpol.2023.103051