2. Institutional and policy aspects of Terra Preta (Nova) production, use and management

Country: Colombia


The use of commonly-owned natural resources does not always lead to a Tragedy of the Commons. Often such use is guided by various institutions that enable certain uses and prevent the full depletion of the resource. Both informal local institutions as well as formal juridical-bureaucratic ones play a role when traditional rules and modern bureaucracies interact. Institutions do not always prevent resource depletion, particularly when mixed rule systems create insecurity, unclear situations and misuse. Economic growth, illegal activities and/or population pressure may also go beyond the regulatory power of given institutions. This project aims at increasing our understanding of these institutions, their evolution and present functioning. The relation between institutional diversity and the cultural diversity of Amazonia will be studied. The project addresses the following research questions: (1) what law and regulations concerning production, use and management of Terra Preta (soils and the trees / crops growing on them) are currently in use, and how do these affect local practices and interact with local institutions?; (2) which local level solutions have been developed for Terra Preta production, use and management in the countries and localities concerned out of formal-bureaucratic and informal-local institutions?; (3) to what extent have these institutions changed over time and why?; (4) what claims are being laid on Terra Preta by different stakeholders – scientific institutions, the state, businesses, ethnic groups – regarding ownership, access, use, management and benefit sharing?; (5) to what extent do Terra Preta institutions and stakeholder claims coincide or clash?; (6) to what extent do different existing types of institutional framework contribute to the preservation and/or improvement of Terra Preta (Nova) production, use and management for future generations?
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