Natural resource management in an institutional disorder : the development of adaptive co-management systems of moose in Sweden

Sammanfattning: The overall aim of this thesis is to contribute to the understanding of the development of adaptive co-management systems and of the role the State plays in promoting or hampering such a development. Natural resource issues are often characterised by conflicting interests and in general implemented by conventional, top-down management systems. Therefore this thesis also investigates the effect conflicting interests and institutional path dependencies have on the development of adaptive co-management systems. The Swedish moose management system was established in the beginning of the 20th century as the State was trying to rectify a "tragedy of the commons" situation since moose at the time was almost extinct. The administrative system erected can be characterised as a conventional, top-down, single- species management system, and had features of both corporate arrangements and legal-rational bureaucratic administrative models. Due to high administrative costs and the explosion of the moose population in the late 1970's which resulted in significant grazing damages on commercial tree species, the State changed its policies. One change in formal rules allowed for hunting rights owners to establish so called Moose Management Units (MMU) which entailed that they gained management rights, and thereby could decide on their own the number of moose to be shot in a hunting season. This is a critical right since approximately 1/3 of the moose populations are decimated during a hunting season and this right is therefore an efficient tool for controlling the size of the moose populations. The State also made alterations in the corporate arrangement, from primarily only including the hunting interest organisation SAHWM to increase landowner interests' influence in the public administration. A quantitative study of the MMUs revealed that these can not be characterised as adaptive co-management systems to a high degree due to inadequate monitoring, inability to meet management goals, and failure to apply ecosystem management. Part of the reason for this is that there is an ecological and social misfit since MMUs are too small to contain its own moose populations. Another reason is inadequate knowledge regarding population dynamics on behalf of the local resource users. However, there were variations not only among MMUs but also on the regional level as to the extent of adaptive co-management characteristics. Two counties were selected for further study due to the fact that the MMUs in one county had more characteristics of adaptive co-management systems than in the other one. The case studies revealed that high levels of conflicts in a corporate arrangement hampered the development of adaptive co- management systems. In the county with low conflict levels regarding the moose question, a key steward holding a key position in the moose administrative system was a critical actor in promoting the development of adaptive co-management systems. It is concluded that devolution of management rights does not automatically foster adaptive co-management. Nor is a centralized system easily converted to a bottom-up system. The study shows that institutional change is path dependent but also that the State has an important role to play in developing adaptive co-management systems. This is particularly decisive if an ecological and social misfit is likely to arise since the State then can provide linkages both on an organisational level but also on a geographical level and thereby mitigate potential negative effects of local resource systems. However, this role differs significantly from that in conventional resource management and therefore it is also important that the organisation and tasks of the State is ensured legitimacy among both the public and affected resource users.