Is a Top-down approach more effective in achieving conservation?

Essay by cez_82University, Bachelor'sB, September 2006

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A top-down approach in resource management is that which aims to control the use of a particular resource through state structured apparatus that have ultimate control in the decision making process. This power 'trickles down' the different levels of stakeholders leaving those at the bottom with little or no say in the outcome of the particular resource use. This approach was widely used in the colonial periods in places like Africa and Latin America. The main strengths of a top-down approach include:

1. The ability to use resources more wisely avoiding local 'ignorance' in the management of a particular resource

2. The availability of social, economic and political capital in managing a resource and in implementing policy and authority

3. A more holistic vision in the use of resources in terms of the effect the use can have at local, national and international scales

Exclusively top-down approaches in resource management are often seen as having failed to bring about ecological and social sustainable outcomes.

Bottom up approaches are those which those 'principles and practices that argue conservation goals should be pursued by strategies that emphasize the role of local residents in decision-making about natural resources' (Adam & Hulmes in Murphree, 2004: pg. 204). This approach calls for greater decision-making power to those who are directly affected by the use and exploitation of a particular resource (WRI, 2002).

The main strengths of a bottom-up approach include:

1. More autonomy for communities directly affected by the use of a particular resource

2. Use of local knowledge and wisdom for better management practices

3. Control over direct effects of resource use on the local community

4. A micro visualization of resource use

This view has recently become the new paradigm in resource management. However, complete bottom-up approaches have been rejected on...