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News & Events

Warna newsletter available in Marathi

SOPPECOM has produced LiveDiverse newsletter in Marathi, the local language spoken within the case study area in India. The first newsletter is available from here: Warana_Newsletter_vol1.

LiveDiverse partners in Scotland and Vietnam to sign an MOU for further collaboration

Written by Yumiko Yasuda

The LiveDiverse project has resulted in a long-term formal partnership between two institutions: The National Institute of Agricultural Planning and Projection (NIAPP), the LiveDiverse partner from Vietnam; and the University of Dundee, the LiveDiverse partner from Scotland. NIAPP visited the University of Dundee, and the two parties have signed the Memorandum of Understanding on June 7th, 2011. The MoU aims at facilitating further collaboration in research, education and training between the two LiveDiverse partners. As an initial step, a member of staff from NIAPP will participate in the Water Law Water Leaders course which will be held at the University of Dundee in August 2011. Mr. Vu Cong Lan, the Head of the division of international cooperation and project management at NIAPP, gave a special lecture titled ‘Rice, Water & Climate Change: Drama in Vietnam?’ Mr. Lan provided an overview of agriculture production in Vietnam, and potential climate change impacts particularly to two main deltas: Mekong delta and Red River delta. The lecture was co-organized by the IHP-HELP Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science, and the Centre for Environmental Change and Human Resilience, at the University of Dundee. Click here for more information and Mr. Lan’s presentation.

Left: Dr. Nguyen Van Toan, the Vice Director of NIAPP signs MOU. Centre: Mr. Vu Cong Lan gives special lecture. Right: Audience at the special lecture.

LiveDiverse results presented at the 2011 Conference on Earth System Governance

Written by Armelle Guignier

Three members of LiveDiverse project attended the Conference on Earth System Governance: crossing boundaries and building bridges, in Fort Collins, Colorado from 17 to 20 May 2011. They presented three papers showcasing the preliminary findings of their work during the project. Two papers by Dr. Dave Huitema and Dr. Farhad Mukhtarov from IVM- VU University analysed the issue of policy-making and agency in protected areas from a political science standpoint. The paper presented by Ms. Armelle Guignier from the University of Dundee contributed to a legal understanding of “good” governance of protected areas in South Africa and Vietnam.

More information is available from the conference web site.

Socio-economic experiment in Costa Rica

Written by Jetske Bouma

In the beginning of May 2011, a team from VU University, the Netherlands, and the Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica visited several villages in the Terraba-Sierpe basin, Costa Rica, to conduct socio-economic experiments. The experiments consisted of a set of games in which villagers were asked to decide how much they wanted to extract from a collective resource, i.e. the wetland or forest, and how much they wanted to conserve. Participants played for real money to reduce hypothetical bias: individual extractions generated individual returns and remaining amounts of the collective resource generated a group pay-off.

The purpose of the games was to study individual behavior in group decision-making, specifically related to the use and conservation of natural resources in the protected areas and indigenous territories nearby. Depending on the treatment, participants answered a set of questions related to protected area management before or after the game. Participants responded very positively to the games: several participants said that the game had taught them a lesson about cooperation and decision-making in natural resource management, and it was appreciated that people received direct returns. In the coming weeks the outcomes will be analyzed in the context of the potential for community co-management of protected areas, and shared on the LiveDiverse website.

For more information, please contact: Dr Jetske Bouma, VU University, The Netherlands. Jetske.bouma@ivm.vu.nl

From left: Explanation of the game in Terraba (Costa Rica)/ Example of individual earning/ Survey regarding protected areas management/Conducting the game in Sierpe (Costa Rica)

South African team works in Vietnam

Written by Karen Nortje

Work Package 4 (WP4) lead by the CSIR team from South Africa recently joined their Vietnamese counterparts in Vietnam for some WP4 related fieldwork, with aim of understanding public beliefs, perceptions, attitudes and preferences.  South African team members Marius Claassen and Karen Nortje arrived in Vietnam on the 4th of April 2011 and spent twelve days in the field.  They were joined by LiveDiverse co-ordinator Professor Geoffrey Gooch and the Vietnamese team members from NIAPP, Vu Cong Lan and Vuong Thuc Tran.  During this time the LiveDiverse team visited households in the following communes: Nam Mau, Dong Phuc, Khang Ninh (Ba Be) Thanh Tuong, and Son Phu (Na Hang).

The fieldwork conducted during these twelve days consisted of a number of semi-structured interviews with household members, as well as representatives of the Commune People’s Committee (CPC), who manage the everyday running of the different villages within which the villages that are taking part in the project, are situated.  The interviews covered topics specifically related to understanding the beliefs, attitudes and preferences people have in relation to their use and conservation of natural resources and biodiversity linked to their livelihoods.

For the South Africans, the first-hand experience of physically being there and being able to “see for themselves” have been invaluable.

Not only has it delivered excellent data but it has also provided depth and context to the data that is difficult to get otherwise. The data collected from these interviews will now be analysed in conjunction with similar work that has been done in the other case study areas, namely South Africa, Costa Rica and India.

The LiveDiverse team was honoured by the hospitality of the Vietnamese people who welcomed them into their homes.  In this photo:  Mr Nong Van Ly from Son Phu Commune (the first in the circle on the right), followed on his right by Vu Cong Lan (NIAPP), Vuong Thuc Tran (NIAPP), Karen Nortje (CSIR), Kerstin Völker (Geoffrey Gooch’s wife), Geoffrey Gooch (Linkoping University and LiveDiverse co-ordinator), and lastly a member of Mr Ly’s family. (Photograph taken by Marius Claassen, CSIR).

Field data collection and analysis under way in Viet Nam

Written by Vu Cong Lan

Active Field data collection and their analysis are currently under way in LiveDiverse case study area in Vietnam. Field surveys on cultural and spiritual vulnerability targeted 8 ethnic groups which include: Tay, Dao, Muong, Nung, Kinh, Cao Lan, H’Mong and Hoa. The survey covered a range of topics including: life cycle events; traditional food patterns and changes; sacred entities; traditional dressing; major deities; institutional issues; livelihoods and livelihood resources; and changes. Survey on public belief and perception was conducted as participatory action research, which covered 3 communes in Ba Be district, Bac Kan province, and 2 communes in Na Hang district, Tuyen Quang province. In addition, meetings were held with local line agencies and ethnic households.

At NIAPP office in Hanoi, the GIS database information collected from all four case study areas have been compiled and resulted in total of 127 map layers. They cover bio-physical, socio-economic and cultural-spiritual themes. Not only facilitating vulnerably assessment for 4 study areas, the GIS database is also providing an excellent geographic tool for information management and presentation of the result of all the analysis.

The application of the SOPAC Environmental Vulnerability Index to the LiveDiverse’s 4 study areas confirmed the effectiveness of the this tool in identifying areas which are environmentally vulnerable. The preliminary results suggest that the four case areas may fall into two vulnerability groups. A high vulnerability group comprising Ba Be Na Hang (Vietnam), Mutale river basin (South Africa) and Terraba river basin (Costa Rica) and a moderate vulnerability group consisting only of Warana basin (India). It has also provided a list of focal issues that could be applicable by the cases themselves to improve their status. This method identified the “hot” issues and considered to be the focus of environmental vulnerability to a specific area, thus helping managers make suitable decisions.

The LiveDiverse team get to grips with communication problems on the recent field trip in Vietnam (photo K. Nortje)

Third Stakeholder Workshops in the Térraba River Basin.

Written by Bepsy Cedeño, Alexander López and Ernesto Villalobos.

The third round of stakeholder workshops in Costa Rica took place at the end of March, with the purpose of presenting and sharing the different drivers for change and potential scenarios within the Térraba River Basin, identified through the LiveDiverse project, with the relevant stakeholders. The first workshop took place on 22nd March, which was an open discussion with the ProTérraba Basin Commission. This Commission is the main institutional body for the management of the Tèrraba River basin, and it includes a range of members from government and non-governmental organizations. The second workshop on 25th March, allowed the LiveDiverse group to meet with a broad range of community representatives from the middle and lower basin, in the town of Palmar Sur.

In both meetings the LiveDiverse Costa Rican team presented the main biophysical, socio-economic and cultural drivers related to scenarios of the Grande Térraba River Basin. The presentations started with an introduction to the scenarios construction. It was followed by a presentation on biophysical characterization of the river basin in order to show the main biophysical drivers including: land use cover and trends, protected areas, and population growth. In addition, the socio-economic drivers centered around three key elements: the Diquis hydroelectric dam project, the agriculture development, and tourism and real state development. Finally, the socio-economic drivers were discussed which included: livelihoods dependency on natural resources, the external exposure, and some level of religious syncretism in the indigenous communities.

The presentations were favorably received by workshop participants, and the two workshops in the Térraba River basin demonstrated to be useful mechanisms for engagement of stakeholders and receiving their ideas about the possible development of the different drivers. Finally, the discussion confirmed that the approach taken to the scenarios and their content were in line with the issues that key stakeholders found to be the most relevant ones.

A ‘chiefly’ visit!

Written by Karen Nortje

Constant feedback and dissemination of findings are an integral part to the key philosophy of LiveDiverse.  In an effort not only to make sure that this philosophy is upheld, but also to fulfil the moral obligation we as researchers have towards the people who have given their time to participate in this project, the South African case study team embarked on an interim feedback tour to the traditional leadership of the various villages who are participating in the project in South Africa.  The South African team was joined by LiveDiverse co-ordinator Professor Geoffrey Gooch.

During this visit the LiveDiverse team visited with the Chiefs of Tshiavha and Mbahela, the Headman of Mushithe and the Mutele Traditional Authority with representatives from Thondoni and Beleni.  The LiveDiverse team prepared an interim feedback document for each of these villages and took time during the individual meetings to explain and discuss the contents of each of these interim feedback documents.  Each feedback document consisted of a village specific timeline that depicts the ‘story so far’, as well as some preliminary findings from the various interactions we had over the past few months.  Professor Gooch also used this opportunity to test some ideas for future development options for the villages with the traditional leadership.

The visits were very well received, and the feedback documents in particular were much appreciated. A representative from the Mutele Traditional Authority noted that “This is the first time anyone has brought the research back to us.  This really means a lot!”  The South African case study team is also planning a LiveDiverse feedback road show to all the participating villages at the end of August 2011.

From left to right: Prof Geoffrey Gooch, LiveDiverse Project Co‑ordinator, Chief Netshiavha of Tshiavha Village, and Ms. Karen Nortje, LiveDiverse team member, South Africa.  Here Chief Netshiavha is holding the Tshiavha interim feedback document presented to him by the LiveDiverse team.

LiveDiverse Partners meet in Kolhapur, India

Written by Yumiko Yasuda and Suchita Jain

The third LiveDiverse partner consortium meeting took place in Kolhapur, India, in the vicinity of the Warana river basin which is the LiveDiverse project’s case study area. As the project is in its final year, the meeting focused its discussion on consolidating the research output into scenario and policy recommendation, as well as publication and dissemination plan. On the second day of the meeting, the India’s case study committee members and other key contributors to the project including PhD students from Shivaji University, Principles from N D Patil College, Malkapur and Mahavir College in Kolhapur were invited to join the meeting with all the partners. After presentations from the coordinator Prof. Gooch and the case area partners from Costa Rica, India, South Africa, and Vietnam, the participants to the meeting had lively discussions and questions regarding the biodiversity and livelihoods from different case study areas. The key discussions included the impact of development on wetlands, involvement of local community in market economy, the role of headmen (village chiefs), status of women in community, the management of national parks, and the level of participation of state government to the project. On the third day of the meting, partners visited Amba, which lies within the Warana river basin. This trip provided LiveDiverse partners an opportunity to deepen their understandings of nature, history, and livelihoods related to the case study area in India. The meeting was concluded on the fifth day, with clear action points for the final year of the project.

LiveDiverse presents during the 13th Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons

Written by Yumiko Yasuda and Suchita Jain

The LiveDiverse project organized two panel sessions during the 13th Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons, which was held in Hyderabad, India from 10-14th January 2011. The panels were titled ‘Going Beyond Polarised Discourse: Integrating Biodiversity and Livelihood Concerns in Riparian Ecosystems in Developing Countries’ and the total of six papers were presented. The Panel was chaired by Shri Ashish Kothari, who is a founding member of Kalpavriksh, a 30-year-old environment research and action group based in Pune. Although the panel was held on the last day of the conference, it has attracted over seventy participants, and resulted in lively discussions on issues related to biodiversity and livelihoods. The LiveDiverse also had an exhibition booth during the conference, where the project publications, video, and posters were presented. The booth was decorated with a colourful skirt from Venda, which is our case study area in South Africa. The list of presenters and the presentation materials are available from here.

Engaging the Community – from Venda, South Africa

Written by Karen Norjte.  CSIR

On a warm Venda afternoon in May, Mr Wilson Mundzunga, resident of the Mbahela village in Venda, tells LiveDiverse team member, Karen Nortje, the story of the “man from outside” who came to visit Lake Fundudzi (sacred lake to the VhaVenda) and how “very bad things” happened to him because he did not ask the Chief permission to visit the lake – if he had, none of the bad things would have happened.  At closer inspection one will realise that Wilson’s story is not just a scary story, rather it links diverse issues such as culture and conservation, beliefs and science to form a holistic picture of a people and place that may operate in a modern, Western influenced world but still finds its roots in its traditions of old.

As part of the LiveDiverse South African case study, extensive fieldwork is being conducted in the rural setting of the Vhembe district in the Limpopo Province, on cultural and spiritual beliefs and attitudes relating to sustainable livelihoods and biodiversity. Led by the social science oriented Water Governance research group at the CSIR, transdisciplinary research and engagement are currently taking place. Collaborative partnerships with translators and the local authorities are being established, and this is providing valuable access to communities that are both physically remote but also socio-culturally difficult to penetrate. Project teams are therefore able to set out into the remote villages of Thondoni, Bileni, Tshiavha, Mbahela and Mushite and engage with community elders and members in one-on-one interviews, focus groups and household surveys.

The project team members are engaging people about their traditions, spiritual beliefs, food patterns, interaction with nature, and have gained considerable insights into VhaVenda culture. Specifically, they are discovering firsthand the dilemma between VhaVenda traditions that were upheld in days gone by, such as asking the Chief permission to visit the lake, and how these struggle to survive under modern, Western influences. Similarly, findings also reveal the need to advance academic understandings of what it means to be vulnerable, as the substantial entrepreneurial nature of rural people is coming to light.

LiveDiverse reaches out- from Warana basin, India

Written by K.J. Joy.  SOPPECOM

LiveDiverse believes in building close links between the research it conducts and the stakeholders in the research area. The Case Study Committee constituted for the Warana Basin in India, provides an important link; it consists of renowned scientists, ex-government officers, grass roots activists rooted in the stakeholder sections, environmental education specialists and academics. Their multidisciplinary approach and multifarious links are LiveDiverse strengths.

In December 2009 the LiveDiverse International team visited India to participate in field work.  The team visited study villages, religious, socio-cultural and tourist and sites, the Chandoli National Park, the river spots and also participated in a religious festival.  Two workshops were organised, one in Pune in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Pune and one in Warananagar, in the heart of the basin, with the collaboration of Y. C. Warana College, Warananagar and Department of Environmental Sciences, Shivaji University, Kolhapur. Both workshops were well attended and people from different disciplines and walks participated. The Waranagar workshop was inaugurated by the local legislator and received good press coverage.

Later, in the massive field surveys and interviews that were carried out (over 400 households from nine sites were surveyed in detail), the investigators were drawn from two local colleges. Five papers are currently being prepared by doctoral students of Shivaji University under the guidance of Prof. Jay Samant on different aspects relating to the biodiversity issues focusing on the Warana basin. The scenario building exercises and the feedback from them are expected to help further in this interaction and help build an effective two way relationship between the project and stakeholders within the Warana basin.

Students Experience LiveDiverse Research in India

Written by Elisa Trepp, MSc student.  Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM).

As part of the MSc Environment and Resource Management at the VU in Amsterdam, I travelled to the LiveDiverse partner SOPPECOM in Pune, India to assist in data collection and to conduct my master research. Together with a team of 12 students from local colleges and SOPPECOM staff, we visited various villages which have been affected by the establishment of Chandoli National Park. The experience was unforgettable- besides the sounds, smells, tastes and sites of India, I had the privilege to meet and speak with people in rural villages and to travel up steep slopes on the back of a motorcycle in search of respondents.

My research was focused on the impact of the establishment of Chandoli National Park on local communities’ socioeconomic vulnerability. Resettlement of villages has taken place in order to preserve biodiversity in Chandoli National Park and to protect the watershed area around a large dam. From both quantitative and qualitative data collected I found that the impact on the resettled communities has been mostly negative. Substantial changes have taken place in the lives of resettled people, and most notably there has been a shift from self sufficiency to an integration into the monetary economy and wage labor. On the other hand, moving to locations closer to a large city brings potential opportunities which the younger generations will hopefully embrace in the future. The tradeoffs between biodiversity protection in the area and the socioeconomic development of the respondents I spoke with brought theory into practice and opened my eyes to the difficulties in finding the delicate balance between these two concepts.

Learning from the field

Wirtten by Lisette van Marrewijk.  MSc Student. Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM)

During the period of April to September 2010, I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in the LiveDiverse project, in which I discovered the beauty but as well the sadness of Vhembe District in South Africa. Beautiful because of the people which were friendly, strong, generous and welcoming, sad because they lack the means to reduce their socio-economic vulnerability which is reflected in a degradation of their direct natural environment. Together with partners of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), I have conducted fieldwork for over three weeks in Vhembe District as part of my Master studies in Environment and Resource Management at the VU in Amsterdam, to gain a greater understanding of socio-economic vulnerability, gender relations and dependence on agricultural land and livestock of local households. This has been a full learning experience for me in every aspect, for which I am very grateful. Of course we cannot forget that this research project  has been made possible not only by the EU but more important by the Venda people, who were willing to share their time and knowledge with us.

New Reports and Publications from LiveDiverse

Live Diverse project is in its second year, and from all the field studies which have been conducted, we now have following reports published on our web site http://www.livediverse.eu/?page_id=20

Reports from Work Packages

  • A, López; Hernández. A; Villalobos E; Cedeño. B. (2010) Livelihoods and Biodiversity Futures: Building Scenarios for the Terraba River Basin, the Greater Kruger Park, the Warana River Basin, Ba Be National Park and Na Hang Nature Reserve.  (WP 8 Milestone report)
  • Joy K.J. and Paranjape Suhas. (2010) Identify interconnections between their cultural and spiritual practices and biodiversity in the area: Analytical framework and methodology. (WP7 Milestone report)
  • Bouma, J. and Huitema, D. (2010) Socio-Economic Vulnerability: Conservation-Development Trade-Offs and Agency in Multi-Level Governance Process. (WP6 Milestone report)

Reports from Case Study Area

  • Trepp Elisa. (2010) Chandoli National Park and Resettlement: Impacts on Local Communities in  Maharashtra, India. MSc thesis.
  • Medvey Johanna. (2010) Benefits of Burden? Community Participation in Natural Resource Management in the Greater Kruger Park Area. MSc thesis.
  • Uribe Monica. (2010) Terraba Sierpe Wetland’s Management plan: Struggling for policy change and its implementation. MSc thesis.
  • Cedeño. B, Hernández. A, López. A, and Villalobos. E: Atlas Biofísico de la Cuenca del Río Grande de Térraba. Caracterización Biofísica.  Escuela de Relaciones Internacionales de la Universidad Nacional, 2010.
  • Cedeño. B, Hernández. A, López. A, and Villalobos: Caracterización Socioeconómica de la Cuenca del Río Grande de Térraba. Escuela de Relaciones Internacionales de la Universidad Nacional. 2010

The second LiveDiverse partner meeting was held in South Africa in March 2010.

The second LiveDiverse partner meeting was held in the Kruger Park, South Africa from 13-21 of March 2010.  Nineteen participants from eight different partner organizations participated in the meeting, and visited the South African case area, the Mutabe River and the Limpopo Province. The partners discussed the results so far and planned the field work for 2010, which will include household surveys , interviews, village meetings and vulnerability studies in all 4 case areas.

New reports from LiveDiverse published on the internet. LiveDiverse has recently published 2 scientific reports,  one the project deliverable ‘Knowledge base for ecological, socio-economic, cultural-spiritual and policy analysis, coordinated by the EC Joint Research Center, and the second ‘Socio-Economic Vulnerability: Conservation-Development Trade-Offs and Agency in Multi-Level Governance Process’ produced by the Institute for Environmental Studies. The first report gathers the present knowledge on biophysical, socio-economic and cultural-spiritual vulnerability in the LiveDiverse case areas and the second provides the conceptual framework for analyzing socio-economic vulnerability. Click here to access the reports.

New book edited by LiveDiverse partners – Science, Policy and Stakeholders in Water Management (Gooch and Stålnacke eds.) A new book on Science, Policy and Stakeholders in Water Management (Gooch & Stålnacke, eds.) with contributions from LiveDiverse participants  is about to be published by Earthscan. The book presents both an analytical framework and examples from case areas on how science, policy and stakeholders can interact in water management. As LiveDiverse studies biodiversity and livelihoods in riparian areas, this will provide a useful contribution to the project’s work.   Click here for more information about the new book.

LiveDiverse coordinator presents the project at the first IUCN UK Conference in Edinburgh 19-20 April

The LiverDiverse project coordinator, Professor Geoffrey Gooch, presented the project at the first IUCN UK Conference in Edinburgh, 19-20 April. Valuable contacts were developed at the conference with, for example, the IUCN’s Working Group on Cultural and Spiritual values of Protected Areas, and with the working group on mangroves.