Project

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Analyzing and Modeling Transitions of Common Property Pastures in the Swiss Alps

Applicant Binder Claudia
Number 125267
Funding scheme Interdisciplinary projects
Research institution Department für Geographie Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Social geography and ecology
Start/End 01.06.2009 - 31.12.2012
Approved amount 236'161.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Social geography and ecology
Other disciplines of Environmental Sciences

Keywords (7)

transition; common property; pastures; socio-ecological system; Switzerland; modeling; Swiss Alps

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
The common property pastures in the Swiss Alps provide significant services to the mountainous regions, such as income sources for farmers and tourism industry, protection from soil erosion, water-run-off and landslides, and high biodiversity. These services are highly dependent on continuous management of the alpine pastures and meadows. In Switzerland, most alpine summer pastures are common property and have been managed by local governance systems since the Middle Ages avoiding an over-use of the scarce resources. Societal changes, like industrialization, rapid economic growth, and new agricultural policies, induced major transitions of the pasture management system, leading to abandonment of land or intensification and ensuing reduction of biodiversity on the long-term. In the future, market liberalization and climate change will further challenge the management systems of common property pastures. The main goal of this project is to analyze and assess the role of local governance systems for the development of the ecological and social system in the Swiss Alps over time. We will investigate how these systems, originally designed to overcome over-use of resources, could adapt to manage the under-use of resources.In particular we will first, characterize, analyze, and model the transitions of the management system of common property pastures in the Swiss Alps, with special focus on institutional development, land use change and biodiversity. Second, we aim to develop, in a transdisciplinary process, scenarios and strategies for coping with upcoming challenges such as climate change and market liberalization. The project will be conducted in two case study regions; stakeholders will be involved in three transdisciplinary workshops.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Prof. Dr. Elinor Ostrom, Indiana University United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Exchange of personnel
Prof. Dr. Berhard Schmid Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
University of Applied Science 30.10.2012 Zollikofen
International Geographical Congress Cologne 26.08.2012 Cologne
Konferenz der Schweizerischen Ethnologischen Gesellschaft 25.11.2011 Zürich
Global Change and the World's Mountains 26.09.2010 Perth


Knowledge transfer events



Self-organised

Title Date Place
Work-shop on development of system dynamics model 20.03.2013 Törbel
Validation of the factors affecting the management of CPP 21.07.2010 Grindelwald

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: radio, television Common Property Management in Swiss Alps Ö1 International 22.03.2011

Abstract

The common property pastures in the Swiss Alps provide significant services to the mountainous regions, such as income sources for farmers and tourism industry, protection from soil erosion, water-run-off and landslides, and high biodiversity. These services are highly dependent on continuous management of the alpine pastures and meadows. In Switzerland, most alpine summer pastures are common property and have been managed by local governance systems since the Middle Ages avoiding an over-use of the scarce resources. Societal changes, like industrialization, rapid economic growth, and new agricultural policies, induced major transitions of the pasture management system, leading to abandonment of land or intensification and ensuing reduction of biodiversity on the long-term. In the future, market liberalization and climate change will further challenge the management systems of common property pastures. The main goal of this project is to analyze and assess the role of local governance systems for the development of the ecological and social system in the Swiss Alps over time. We will investigate how these systems, originally designed to overcome over-use of resources, could adapt to manage the under-use of resources.The specific goals of this research project are first, to characterize, analyze, and model the transitions of the management system of common property pastures in the Swiss Alps, with special focus on institutional development, land use change and biodiversity. Second, we aim to develop, in a transdisciplinary process, scenarios and strategies for coping with upcoming challenges such as climate change and market liberalization. The project will be conducted in two case study regions; stakeholders will be involved in three transdisciplinary workshops.This project is innovative in its contribution to theory, method development, and under-standing of transition processes in common property resource management.Theory: This project expands governance theory to study the case of resource under-use: So far, governance theory has been applied to investigate common-pool resources threatened by over-use. In this project, we apply this theory to the case of Swiss alpine pastures threatened by resource under-use and analyze the question of changes in these regimes on land use and cover, and biodiversity.Method development: This project will build on existing and develop further new methodologies for analyzing coupled socio-ecological systems by providing spatially explicit interdisciplinary simulation models on transitions of common property regimes and related ecological systems. The way of integrating stakeholder knowledge into the process will provide a baseline for other projects analyzing resources managed under common property regimes. Furthermore, our framework supports integration between social and natural sciences as well as between stakeholder and expert knowledge.Understanding transition processes: This project provides an integrative inter- and transdisciplinary approach for analyzing and understanding transition processes. The analysis of ear-lier transitions additionally allows for studying pathways towards sustainable development in the Swiss Alps. Furthermore we have the unique opportunity to rely on studies performed in one specific study area during the 1970ies, in which spatially explicit land use scenarios for the year 2000 were developed. That is we will be able to investigate to which extent these scenarios came true, and to analyze which factors impacted on their success or failure. Empowerment of local population: Finally, the project transfers knowledge to and empowers the local community as it: a) increases the system understanding and scenario thinking of the local community; b) strengthens the stakeholders ability to select desired scenarios and define strategies to achieve them; and c) contributes to increase stakeholders confidence in finding sustainable ways of coping with future challenges (e.g. climate change, reduced direct payments).
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